- Actum takes over Mercury’s international lobbying clients
- Akin Gump represents Afghan diplomats in US
- Jordan launches $324,000 PR campaign for Jesus baptism site
- Manchin chief of staff ends Qatar lobbying
- Grenada hires Finn Partners
- Vietnam central bank ends lobbying after currency agreement
- Bulgaria business clan renews anti-kleptocracy lobbying
- Qatar aeronautical company expands South Carolina footprint
- Inside the Turkey lobby
New lobbying filings
Actum International UK has taken over Mercury Public Affairs‘ foreign lobbying contracts after absorbing Mercury’s London affiliate Mercury International UK last month. The new firm is now representing the governments of Ethiopia, Libya and Zimbabwe as well as the African Development Bank, with Mercury’s Washington office still working on the accounts as a subcontractor to Actum. Mercury is no longer representing the governments of Haiti and Uganda, imprisoned Saudi officials or embattled Israeli spyware company the NSO Group / Q Cyber Technologies, however.
As part of its lobbying registration, Actum has made public Mercury UK’s contracts with the clients it has taken over, offering new details about their terms. The Ethiopian contract is worth $85,000 per month through Nov. 22 and was signed by Ambassador Fitsum Arega Gebrekidan. The contract with Zimbabwe is for $90,000 per month through April 2022 and was signed by Foreign Minister Frederick Shava. Libyan State Minister for Government Affairs Adel Amori signed the $175,000-per-month contract on behalf of the transitional Government of National Unity (GNU) in Tripoli,. And the African Development Bank is on the hook for $297,000 for its six-month contract to boost the upcoming Africa Investment Forum.
Dominican Republic: The Pennsylvania-based Federation of Town Mayors (Federacion de Alcaldes Pedaneo) is helping Massachusetts immigrant rights activist Altagracia del Pilar Mendez and her associates with public relations, translation of documents and scheduling meetings. The federation is to be paid a symbolic $1.
Grenada: The Grenada Tourism Authority has hired public relations Finn Partners to promote tourism and increase visitors to the Caribbean island nation. The newly disclosed one-year contract is for $11,250 per month starting July 15.
Afghanistan: Akin Gump is helping former US-based Afghan diplomats Adela Raz, Safiullah Delawar and Adbui Hadi Nejrabi gain protection for themselves and their families following the Taliban takeover of the country. “Included in this representation is advocacy to amend Section 13 of the Immigration & Nationality Act to allow USCIS to approve more than 50 adjustments per year for former diplomats and their family members who otherwise qualify and to exempt them from relevant fees,” the lobbying registration states. Akin Gump is working on the effort pro bono.
Meanwhile the US-based Afghanistan-U.S. Democratic Peace and Prosperity Council continues to lobby against US recognition of the Taliban. Wise Capital Strategy, headed by former Republican Capitol Hill aide Matthew Wise, held an Aug. 14 phone call with Reps. John Curtis (R-Utah), Michael Guest (R-Miss.) and Mark Green (R-Tenn.) and staffers for Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.) and Rep. Billy Long (R-Mo.). The group is group funded by Afghan businessman Mohammad Gul Raoufi and has three former members of the now-disbanded Afghan parliament on its board of advisers.
Vietnam: Sidley Austin has terminated its representation of the Vietnamese central bank as of Sept. 17, according to a new lobbying filing. The State Bank of Vietnam hired the Chicago-based firm in April after the Donald Trump administration labeled Vietnam a currency manipulator for the first time in December 2020, requiring the country to enter into negotiations with the US government and the International Monetary Fund to address the situation. The Joe Biden administration resolved the dispute with Hanoi in July.
Bulgaria: Bulgaria’s Bobokov family, owners of the Prista Oil motor oil company, have renewed their lobbying engagement with former State Department official Marshall Harris and his firm Alexandria Group International for another six months, from Oct. 15 though April 15, 2022. The contract is for $7,500 per month, down from $26,000 per month previously. Harris has helped defend several Bulgarian business clans from what they describe as shake-down attempts by the Bulgarian government over the past year.
Listen to our January 2021 podcast interview with Harris here:
Jordan: The Royal Hashemite Court has hired Finn Partners to craft a communications plan for the Bethany Beyond the Jordan archaeological World Heritage site in Jordan. The $324,100 contract runs from July through the end of the year. Jordan is competing with Israel for millions of dollars in annual revenue from tourists visiting the site where John the Baptist baptized Jesus Christ.
Qatar: Integrated Strategy Group terminated its lobbying registration on behalf of the Qatari Embassy in Washington effective June 30, according to a new lobbying filing. The embassy hired the firm co-founded by former Rep. Heath Shuler (D-N.C.) and James Murphy, the national political director for Donald Trump‘s 2016 presidential campaign, on a year-long, $30,000-a-month contract back in March. Hayden Rogers, a former chief of staff to Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), had been registered on the account as a consultant.
Qatar: Portland PR has registered executive Aaron Muench as a foreign agent for the government of Qatar. The firm has represented Qatar’s Government Communications Office since 2014 and is paid $20,000 per month.
Qatar: Qatari-owned spy plane manufacturer Barzan Aeronautical has announced plans to “develop, construct, and operate an assembly, testing and distribution facility for unmanned aerial systems at the Charleston Executive Airport on Johns Island in Charleston County, South Carolina.”
Caught our eye
Our friends over at the Center for International Policy have a new report out on Turkish lobbying in the US.