Latest filings

African electoral lobbying dominates $3 million in new contracts; FGH ends Argentina, Ivory Coast lobbying; US business group seeks visas for displaced Vietnam workers

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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African electoral lobbying dominates $3 million in new contracts for September

Government officials and candidates from a trio of African nations gearing up for elections dominated the more than $3 million in new lobbying contracts disclosed in September, according to a Foreign Lobby Report review of Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA) filings with the Department of Justice.

Eastern Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar briefly led the ranking after signing a $960,000 contract with a quartet of firms led by former Bill Clinton special counsel Lanny Davis‘ law firm Lanny J. Davis & Associates and former Rep. Robert Livingston (R-La.) and his Livingston Group. The firms were meant to represent Haftar for six months and help organize a three-day Washington visit, but the contract quickly fell apart.

Meanwhile another would-be Libyan candidate, former Interior Minister Fathi Bashagha, signed a six-month, $50,000-per-month with the BGR Group.

In western Africa, the government of Liberia has hired a trio of lobbying and public relations firms for $1.5 million over three years while the opposition has launched its own campaign against the government of President George Weah.

And Democratic Republic of the Congo millionaire politician Moise Katumbi has added Republican lobbying firm the DCI Group to his growing roster of Washington influence firms as he eyes a 2023 presidential run.

Read the story and check out all the contracts here.


New lobbying developments

Africa

Foley Hoag on Sept. 30 terminated its lobbying registration on behalf of Apopo, a Belgian nonprofit headquartered in Tanzania that uses southern giant pouched rates to detect landmines and tuberculosis. The firm had lobbied for Apopo since 2015 to increase US support for civil society demining projects in international post-conflict zones.

Democratic Republic of the Congo: Republican lobbying firm the DCI Group has launched the @MKatumbi_US Twitter handle to promote Congolese millionaire politician Moise Katumbi‘s social and political priorities for US audiences. DCI registered as a foreign agent for Katumbi in September as he lays the groundwork for a presidential run in 2023. The firm is to be paid $45,000 for three months of work as Katumbi seeks US support in opposing proposed legislation that could bar him from running because his father wasn’t native Congolese. 

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Ivory Coast: FGH Holdings (formerly the Glover Park Group) terminated its lobbying registration on behalf of the Ivory Coast government effective Aug. 1, according to a new filing under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). The office of President Alassane Ouattara hired the Glover Park Group for $300,000 back in October 2020 for “government affairs and communications services and support … with regard to [the government’s] relations with the United States and other relevant Anglophone countries.” The initial contract was for an initial three-month period until Dec. 15 and came as Ouattara’s opponents were crying foul over his decision to run for a third five-year term in the Oct. 31 election. The firm continued serving as an adviser to the Ivorian government in 2021 but did not disclose any payments or lobbying activity in the six months through July.

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Americas

Argentina: FGH Holdings (formerly the Glover Park Group) terminated its lobbying registration on behalf of Argentina, according to a new filing under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). The firm has served as a subcontractor to Arnold & Porter on the account since May 2020 for $36,000 per month.

Arnold & Porter signed a year-long, $1.932 million contract with Argentina’s Ministry of International Trade and Foreign Investment that month for help with a massive debt restructuring and other economic issues. These include the elimination of tariffs on biodiesel exports imposed under the Donald Trump administration.

Venezuela: The Houston-based Citgo Petroleum Corporation (CPC) has registered Vice President of Supply & Marketing Karl Schmidt as a foreign agent of Venezuela’s national oil company Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA). Citgo is lobbying to protect the Venezuelan company’s US assets from the South American country’s creditors following the creation of an ad hoc board controlled by allies of opposition leader Juan Guaido.

Acting on behalf of Citgo, Schmidt “may participate in meetings with representatives of the U.S. Government and U.S. media to discuss the importance and means of protecting CPC’s assets, or the value of said assets, from claims brought by creditors of the Maduro regime,” according to his registration. “The registrant may additionally contribute to written materials taking a position on the same subject in preparation for those meetings.”

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Asia

South Korea: Richmond communications firm T. Dean Reed terminated its registration as a foreign agent for the South Korean Embassy in Washington as of June 1, according to a new lobbying filing. Reed is a Washington-based public affairs consultant and who previously served as national editor and Washington bureau chief for a group of 30 U.S. daily newspapers. He had provided PR services for the South Korean government since December 2019.

Vietnam: Alexandria lobbying firm Van Fleet Associates has registered to lobby on behalf of international recruiting firm Gap Labor, effective Oct. 7. The firm will “ask Congress to enact short term low skilled EB3 worker plan for SE Asians primarily Vietnamese to come to the US and revitalize small business vital to the local economies.” Firm President Townsend Van Fleet and Vice President for Law and Government Relations Walter Sanders are registered to lobby on the account.

Gap Labor says it “recruits international workers in those many instances where a US-based workforce is unable to keep up with available positions.” The lobbying push comes as millions of Vietnamese workers could flee the industrial heartland for the relative safety of the countryside following the easing of Coronavirus travel restrictions, exacerbating global supply chain bottlenecks.

Europe

France: Portland PR has registered manager Lucy Fyler as a foreign agent for the French Development Agency, or Agence Francaise de Developpement (AFD). She will “represent AFD to media in order to further awareness of the organization’s global initiatives.” The AFD hired Portland in December to boost the profile of a French-led effort to bring together the world’s public development banks in tackling climate change and other global challenges.

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Middle East

Israel: The Israeli government-backed nonprofit Shalom Corps has extended its fundraising contract with Berger Hirschberg Strategies from July 1 through May 31, 2022 for $10,000 per month. Launched in 2019 to promote volunteering by Jewish youth, the nonprofit is a joint effort between the Jewish Agency and Mosaic United (Mosaic is a partnership between the Diaspora Affairs ministry and Jewish philanthropists). Founded by presidential campaign veterans Stephanie Berger and Rachel Hirschberg, Berger Hirschberg bills itself as “Washington D.C. and New York City’s premier Democratic political fundraising firm.” 

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Israel: Israeli energy storage company Nostromo Energy has hired Holland & Knight to lobby on investment tax credits in the Build Back Better Act. The lobbying registration was effective Oct. 11.

Qatar: Portland PR has registered manager Lucy Fyler as a foreign agent for the government of Qatar, tasked with representing Doha to the Joe Biden administration, Congress and non-governmental entities such as think-tanks, academic, media and businesses. Portland has represented Qatar’s Government Communications Office since 2014 and is currently paid $20,000 per month.

United Arab Emirates: APCO Worldwide has registered senior consultant Priya Ramanathan as a foreign agent for the Technology Innovation Institute in Abu Dhabi. The government-funded company has hired APCO 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. 

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