Latest filings

Diplomatic campaign to phase out oil and gas hires Democratic PR firm; Saudi Arabia’s Neom hires Teneo for $3.3 million; Dem fundraiser Mottur lobbies for Chinese chipmaker

Welcome to Foreign Lobby Report’s biweekly roundup of all the latest lobbying developments. Every week we go through dozens of filings under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) and the Lobbying Disclosure Act (LDA) to offer our readers the most comprehensive snapshot anywhere of the foreign governments, political groups and businesses trying to influence US policymaking and public opinion.

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New lobbying developments

A multinational alliance led by Denmark and Costa Rica that seeks to phase out oil and gas production and stop giving permits for new exploration has hired left-leaning political consulting firm Blue Crab Strategies to help design and launch their Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance. The firm is expected to provide Project management support including “creating work plans, tracking progress to goal, coordinating stakeholders, advising on communications strategy, and communicating with partners.” The firm and the alliance are still negotiating a formal contract. CEO Jason Waskey is registered as a foreign agent on the account along with program assistant Javon Averett and consultant Maame Boakye. The lobbying registration was effective Oct. 1 but the firm helped introduce the Danish government to the Joe Biden administration as early as Aug. 24 with an email to National Security Council Director of Climate Policy and Energy Transformation Helaina Matza.

The Beyond Oil and Gas diplomatic initiative was announced at the Energy Action Day organized by the Government of Denmark, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the UN Environmental Program and the World Economic Forum on the margins of the UN High-Level Dialogue on Energy last month. It is expected to be formally launched at the COP 26 UN Climate Change Summit in Glasgow, Scotland.

Africa

Angola: Squire Patton Boggs has registered Public Policy Specialist Perrin Brown a former press aide to Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), as a foreign agent for the government of Angola. Squire Patton Boggs has represented the Angolan government since 2019 and signed a $3.75 million yearlong contract extension in June 2021. Luanda is courting international investors following 2017 elections that saw President Jose Eduardo dos Santos step down after 38 years in power marked by massive corruption in the oil-rich nation

Democratic Republic of the Congo: Congolese millionaire politician Moise Katumbi is eyeing a two-and-a-half week to the United States from Nov. 1 to Nov. 19 — if he can get a visa in time. International law firm King & Spalding last week and its subcontractor Brownstein Hyatt contacted David Young, the US charge d’affaires in Zambia, where Katumbi retains residency, asking him to expedite the visa application, according to a new lobbying filing. A former governor of the southeastern province of Katanga, Katumbi hired King & Spalding for around $48,500 a month in June to get US support against proposed Congolese legislation that could make him ineligible to run in the 2023 presidential election because he does not have two Congolese parents.

The new filing says the firms have already arranged meetings with members of Congress and are working to get him in front of the White House National Security Council, the State Department, the Pentagon and other agencies. Topics of discussion include human rights, election integrity and “issues related to critical minerals and supply chains.” Katumbi is also expected to hold meetings with the private sector and United Nations officials in New York.

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Ethiopia: Mercury Public Affairs has deregistered Washington director Avery Rose Royster (bio) as a foreign agent for the government of Ethiopia less than a month after adding her to the account. A former deputy press secretary for Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Royster joined the firm in February. Mercury registered its Ethiopia work under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) as a subcontractor to its London affiliate Mercury International UK as Addis Ababa beefs up its Washington lobbying presence amid growing pressure from Congress and the Joe Biden administration over the violence in Tigray. The firm also represents the American Ethiopia Public Affairs Committee (AEPAC), a diaspora group that supports Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed‘s offensive against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front and its allies. 

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Americas

Brazil: The Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association has hired Washington law firm Steptoe & Johnson for assistance with its advocacy efforts ahead of next week’s COP 26 UN Climate Change Summit in Glasgow, Scotland. The contract with UNICA (Uniao da Industria de Cana de Acucar) is for $50,000 and was effective Oct. 11. Registered as foreign agents on the account are Fernando Quintana Merino (bio), the firm’s managing director for investigations and white-collar defense, and partner Jeffrey Weiss (bio).

Based in Sao Paulo, UNICA represents companies that produce sugar, ethanol and bioelectricity in the Center-South region of Brazil. The association “aims to promote and defend the interests of sugar, ethanol and bioelectricity producers, not only in Brazil but at a global scale,” according to Steptoe’s registration under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). The firm will notably help prepare summary presentations about a border tax on carbon-intensive imports proposed by the European Commission and Democrats in Congress. Brazil joined South Africa, India and China, its partners in the so-called BASIC group of emerging economies, in an April joint statement denouncing the EU proposal as a “discriminatory” threat to their exports.

Canada: The public relations firm hired to defeat next month’s Maine referendum against a $1 billion power line between Canada and New England is now targeting New Yorkers. HQ Energy Services, the US affiliate of Canadian utility Hydro-Quebec, has hired Forbes Tate Partners for a maximum of $476,000 to promote a separate proposal to bring Canadian hydropower to New York. Forbes Tate has registered three consultants with Alexandria-based Cold Harbor CreativePeter Pessel, Michael O’Donnell and Nicholas Kadick — as subcontractors on the account. They will “act proactively to educate New Yorkers on the benefits of the project,” according to a new lobbying filing. The contract runs from Oct. 1 through Jan. 31, 2022.

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Ecuador: Arnold & Porter has registered policy specialist Scarlett Bickerton as a foreign agent for the Ecuador’s Ministry of Production, Foreign Trade, Investments, and Fisheries. Quito hired the firm for $900,000 in November 2020 as it seeks to build on trade talks begun under the Donald Trump administration.

Nicaragua: Human rights lawyer Jared Genser of Washington law firm Perseus Strategies terminated his lobbying on behalf of imprisoned Nicaraguan opposition leaders Felix Maradiaga Blandon and Juan Sebastian Chamorro at the end of September, according to new lobbying filings. Genser reported receiving a $30,000 payment from Blandon’s wife Berta Valle and another $30,000 from Chamorro’s wife Victoria Cardenas. Genser lobbied Congress, the White House, the State Department and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) regarding “US political, economic, human rights, humanitarian, and intelligence interests relevant to Nicaragua and the release of political prisoners” during the third quarter. Both registrations were effective July 19. Genser is well-known for representing such figures as Vaclav HavelAung San Suu KyiDesmond TutuElie Wiesel and Liu Xiabo.

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Asia

China (Uyghurs): Washington lobbying firm Lobbyit terminated its registration on behalf of Uyghur activist Rebiya Kadeer‘s Uyghur National Movement on July 1, according to a new lobbying filing. The firm, which registered to lobby regarding human rights in China on April 7, did not disclose any lobbying in the third quarter amid financial and organizational difficulties in the fledgling Uyghur advocacy movement.

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China (Fujian Jinhua): Brownstein Hyatt shareholder Alfred Mottur (bio), the co-chair of the firm’s technology and telecommunication practice and a heavyweight Democratic fundraiser, has registered as a foreign agent on the firm’s $40,000-a-month contract with Chinese microchip manufacturer Fujian Jinhua. Mottur is expected to provide “government relations services and strategic counsel on matter before the US Government.” He also represents the governments of Cambodia. Egypt, Saudi Arabia and South Korea.

Brownstein has represented the company since 2019. Fujian Jinhua attracted outsize media attention as the first company targeted under the “China initiative” that the Justice Department launched in 2018 under President Donald Trump. A federal grand jury charged the state-owned company back in November 2018 of involvement in a conspiracy to steal trade secrets from Micron Technology of Idaho, the only US-based company to manufacture dynamic random-access memory (DRAM). The allegations led the US Commerce Department to cut off Fujian Jinhua from US suppliers.

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Japan: APCO Worldwide has registered public affairs consultant Margaret Kate Patton of New York as a foreign agent of the Japanese consulate in New York. APCO signed a six-month, $150,000 contract back in March to provide communications and media relations services in the US that was recently extended through March 2022.

Japan: The Japan Securities Clearing Corporation has hired financial services lobbying T Cap Solutions to lobby on “legislation or issues concerning clearing in the securities and derivatives markets.” Charlie Thornton, the former chief of staff for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission under President Donald Trump who launched the firm in February, is the only lobbyist on the account.

Micronesia: Arnold & Porter has registered policy specialist Scarlett Bickerton as a foreign agent for the Federated States of Micronesia. The firm has represented the western Pacific island nation since 2016.

Singapore: The Singapore Tourism Board has registered Americas managers Zhi Qi Jayne Yeo in California and Krisna Rajan Bhavani in New York as foreign agents.

South Korea: Squire Patton Boggs has registered Public Policy Specialist Perrin Brown a former press aide to Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), as a foreign agent for the Embassy of South Korea in Washington. She will advise on “international trade and immigration matters, including advising on U.S.-Korea economic relations.” Squire Patton Boggs has represented the Korean Embassy since 2018.

Europe

Germany: The Delegation of German Industry and Commerce in Washington DC has registered senior manager for consulting and corporate development Viola Meyerweissflog and project coordinator Jayne Peters as foreign agents. The group is owned by DIHK DEinternational GmbH in Berlin, which works “independently from but closely with Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy,” according to a lobbying registration filed in August.

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Middle East

Qatar: The Embassy of Qatar has signed a $50,000-a-month contract with Praia Consultants, the firm founded by former Serbian Ambassador to Washington Vladimir Petrovic. The subcontracting agreement with Qatar lobbyist Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman runs for one year from Aug. 15 through Aug. 14, 2022, for a total of $600,000. Praia previously represented the Embassy for $100,000 a month since August 2020. Petrovic is registered as a foreign agent on the account along with President Barack Obama‘s former Senate campaign manager and political director Dan Shomon.

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Saudi Arabia: New York CEO advisory firm Teneo Strategy has signed a 12-month, $3.3 million ($275,000 a month) contract with Saudi Arabia’s Neom corporation to develop a communications strategy for Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman‘s $500 billion vision of a futuristic megacity in the desert. The new contract runs from Aug. 1 through the end of July 2022, according to a newly disclosed lobbying filing. The firm has registered 14 people as foreign agents on the account. Teneo has done work for Neom since 2019 and recently struck a $2.7 million deal to represent its owner, Saudi Arabia’s $400 billion sovereign wealth fund.

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United Arab Emirates: The government-funded Technology Innovation Institute in Abu Dhabi has hired APCO Worldwide to promote its technological and scientific innovations in the US and to promote “Abu Dhabi and the wider United Arab Emirates as a key player in advanced technology.” The $55,000 contract runs from Oct. 20 through the end of the year. The institute is owned and subsidized by the Advanced
Technology Research Council, which is itself owned by the Abu Dhabi Executive Council, the emirate’s executive authority. Registered as foreign agents on the account are APCO associate director Melissa Rincon, project assistant Thalia Baeza Milan and public affairs consultant Alexander Brendan-Ray Gibson.

UAE: Akin Gump has registered senior policy adviser Jose Borjon (bio) as a foreign agent for the UAE Embassy in Washington. Borjon is a former chief of staff to Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (D-Texas), the founder of the congressional Oil and Gas Caucus. He is expected to lobby on “export controls and sanctions, trade policies, human rights, U.S. foreign and defense policies, and strengthening bilateral relations and regional security.” Akin Gump has represented the UAE Embassy since 2007.

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