LOBBYING TRACKER

PRESENTED BY

Levick logo

DATAPOINTS

$3.2 Million

LOBBYING SPEND (2018)

1

LOBBYING/PR FIRMS

0

REGISTERED AGENTS

AL-MONITOR
LOBBYING RANK

#17 (tie)

Ballard Partners
(for Artoc Auto)

Registered: June 2018
2018 fees: $210,000

NEW Q1 termination filing

Ballard Partners says it stopped lobbying for Egypt’s Artoc Auto in its quarrel with Volkswagen on Jan. 1. Ballard had previously reported a termination date of Dec. 14, 2018.

Egypt drops lobby firm amid PR ordeal

Editor

Julian Pecquet

@JPecquet_ALM

jpecquet@al-monitor.com
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Julian Pecquet is the Editor of Special Projects for Al-Monitor, where he supervises the award-winning Lobbying Tracker as well as managing long-form stories. Before that he covered the US Congress for Al-Monitor. Prior to joining Al-Monitor, Pecquet led global affairs coverage for the political newspaper The Hill.

Posted: September 11, 2019

Egypt continued to suffer reputational damage this year as it dumped its longtime lobby firm while facing a public relations onslaught from an aggrieved US citizen.

The Egyptian Embassy in Washington terminated its contract with the Glover Park Group in January, days after a testy "60 Minutes" interview with President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi that touched on the country’s poor human rights record and good relations with Israel. The firm — which was hired in October 2013 at a time when influence firms were still avoiding Cairo following the Arab Spring turmoil — was paid $3 million in 2018.

Meanwhile, former professional roller skater April Corley has hired a Washington law firm to press her case against Egypt after being grievously injured in a mistaken 2015 air attack by US-made Apache helicopters on her tourism party in the country’s Western Desert. Jared Genser, the director of Perseus Strategies and a former foreign agent for DLA Piper and Levick Strategic Communications, is representing Corley alongside public relations firm trident DMG in her bid to get Cairo to pay $14 million for her medical treatment.

Corley’s campaign has had some success. In their foreign aid spending bill for the coming fiscal year, House Appropriators have set aside $13 million of the $1.3 billion in annual US military assistance to Egypt until Cairo pays up. The bill also conditions a total of $260 million of the military assistance to progress on human rights and democracy. And in the Senate, longtime Sisi critic and early Corley advocate Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., has held up a billion-dollar Apache helicopter sale until she is reimbursed (Apaches were used in the 2015 attack).

Separately, the Ministry of Investment and International Cooperation continues to retain the services of Hill+Knowlton Strategies, although the firm reported no political activity or payments in 2018. And Egypt’s General Intelligence Service ended its relationship with APCO Worldwide and Cassidy & Associates in April 2018, shelling out $157,500 last year. That brings the government’s total lobbying and public relations spending to just shy of $3.16 million last year, far less than the $5.15 million spent in 2017.

Despite the dwindling influence campaign and growing congressional concerns, Egypt has largely been able to contain the backlash thanks to close personal ties between Sisi and US President Donald Trump. Hosting the Egyptian leader at the White House in April, Trump praised him as a “great president,” even as lawmakers of both parties criticized a constitutional referendum that could keep him in power until 2034.

Meanwhile, the State Department continues to ask for $1.38 billion in economic and military assistance to Egypt for the fiscal year starting Oct. 1, more than any other country save for Israel and Jordan. And despite the Corley incident, the Trump administration has approved the sale of 10 Apache helicopters worth $1 billion and 60,500 tank rounds worth $201 million to the Egyptian military.

While the government has backed off its lobbying for now, Egyptian millionaire businessman Shafik Gabr hired several lobbying firms last year to go after Volkswagen, after the German car company stripped his Cairo-based Artoc conglomerate of its exclusive right to sell Skodas (a VW subsidiary) in Egypt. Artoc paid Holland & Knight $290,000 and Covington & Burling $90,000 in 2018 (the Holland & Knight contract was terminated this April and the Covington one in June). Artoc also paid former Trump lobbyist Brian Ballard and his Ballard Partners firm $210,000 last year to lobby Congress and the Environmental Protection Agency regarding “trade policy and regulation.” That contract was terminated in December 2018.

Finally, an Egyptian travel company whose assets were seized by the government over alleged links to the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood hired multinational law firm Dentons in February to advocate on US “policies regarding rule of law issues in Egypt.” New York commercial litigation attorney Charles Dorkey III was hired representing Horse Tours & Travel, which is based in Nasr City, Cairo. But the contract was terminated on June 30 without Dentons reporting any activity. Egyptian media reports indicate that Horse Tours & Travel is owned by businessman Imad al-Galda, a former member of parliament who was sentenced to three years in prison in 2011 on bribery allegations. The company filed a lawsuit demanding the nullification of the asset seizure in 2015, denying any connection to the Muslim Brotherhood.

HIGHLIGHTS

Main lobbying firm:
Hill and Knowlton Strategies

 

 

$3.2 million

Total lobbying and PR spending for 2018

 

 

WINS
  • Trump lauds ‘great president’ Sisi at April White House meeting
  • US arms sales continue despite injured American
  • State Department keeps military assistance steady
LOSSES
  • Egypt parts ways with top lobbyist after interview debacle
  • Congress demands compensation for injured American
  • US lawmakers denounce Sisi term extension

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