DATAPOINTS

$0

LOBBYING SPEND (2018)

0

LOBBYING/PR FIRMS

0

REGISTERED AGENTS

AL-MONITOR
LOBBYING RANK

#14 (tie)

Victory Coalition Strategies
Crowell & Moring subcontractor
(for KGL Investment)

Hired: Oct. 2019

NEW Domestic lobbying registration

Kuwait-based KGL Investment, which is seeking US help to pressure Kuwait to drop embezzlement charges against its former chief executive, Marsha Lazareva, has brought on Martha Boneta, a Virginia farmer-turned-conservative activist who has touted her connections to US President Donald Trump. Boneta’s lobbying registration was effective Oct. 11. Her firm, Victory Coalition Strategies, registered as a subcontractor to Crowell & Moring.

SGR Government Affairs and Lobbying
(for Agility Public Warehousing Company)

Hired: July 2019

NEW Supplemental
(April 1, 2019 – Sept. 30, 2019)
Fees: $60,000

Kuwaiti logistics firm Agility Public Warehousing Company paid SGR Government Relations & Lobbying $60,000 for media outreach as it defends itself in a defamation suit over whistleblower letters it sent to US officials accusing rival KGL Logistics of violating US sanctions on Iran. SGR also helps coordinate a congressional reception for the Paralyzed Veterans of America’s Paving Access for Veterans Employment (PAVE) program, to which Agility is a major contributor.

Meanwhile, SGR Government Relations & Lobbying stopped lobbying for Bader El-Jeaan, the outside counsel for Agility Public Warehousing Company, on Oct. 29.

 

American Defense International
(for Agility Public Warehousing Company)

Hired: Oct. 2019

NEW Domestic lobbying registration

The Kuwait-based logistics giant Agility Public Warehousing Company has hired Washington defense lobbying firm American Defense International (ADI) to help with its legal and public relations fight against Kuwaiti rival KGL Logistics. ADI President and CEO Michael Herson will lobby on the account along with Josh Martin, the former chief of staff to House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry, R-Texas. This is the sixth firm Agility has hired as it defends itself in a defamation suit over whistleblower letters it sent to US officials accusing KGL Logistics of violating US sanctions on Iran.

Fahmy Hudome International
(for KGL Investment)

Hired: March 2019

NEW Q3 domestic lobbying filing

Kuwaiti firm KGL Investment paid former Associate Deputy Secretary of Energy Randa Fahmy’s Fahmy Hudome International $45,000 to lobby Congress and the State Department on the “human rights, civil liberties and civil rights” of its former chief executive, Marsha Lazareva. KGL seeks US help to pressure Kuwait to drop embezzlement charges against Lazareva.

Tricuro
(for Marsha Lazareva)

Hired: Aug. 2019
Contract: $35,000

NEW Supplemental
(April 1, 2019 – Sept. 30, 2019)

Tricuro reported no payments or political activity on behalf of a Russian businesswoman accused of embezzlement in Kuwait in the six months through Sept. 30. The firm was hired in August by London-based Sanglier Media to undertake “media relations and public relations activities to advocate for clearing Marsha Lazareva of all charges made against her by the Kuwaiti government.”

Squire Patton Boggs
Crowell & Moring subcontractor
(for KGL Investment)

Hired: Aug. 2019

NEW Q3 domestic lobbying filing

Kuwait’s KGL Investment paid Squire Patton Boggs $80,000 last quarter to lobby for the release of its chief executive, Russian businesswoman Marsha Lazareva. KGL Investment argues that the US should sanction Kuwaiti officials over Lazareva’s imprisonment for what it says are false charges.

Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck
(for KGL Logistics)

Hired: Aug. 2018
2018 fees: $180,000

NEW Q3 domestic lobbying filing

Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck was paid $100,000 by KGL Logistics to lobby Congress, and the departments of Defense, State and Commerce as well as, for the first time, the White House and Treasury Department on “issues related to government contracts.” Brownstein board chairman Norm Brownstein began working on the account in the third quarter.

Ballard Partners
(for KGL Investment)

Hired: April 2019

NEW Q3 domestic lobbying filing

Kuwait’s KGL Investment paid Ballard Partners $150,000 last quarter to lobby for the release of its chief executive, Russian businesswoman Marsha Lazareva. KGL Investment argues that the US should sanction Kuwaiti officials over Lazareva’s imprisonment for what it says are false charges.

R & B Strategies
Crowell & Moring subcontractor

Hired: Feb. 2019

NEW Q3 domestic lobbying filing

Kuwait’s KGL Investment paid R&B Strategies $35,000 last quarter to lobby for the release of its chief executive, Russian businesswoman Marsha Lazareva. KGL Investment argues that the US should sanction Kuwaiti officials over Lazareva’s imprisonment for what it says are false charges.

Holly Strategies
Brownstein subcontractor
(for KGL Logistics)

Hired: 2003
2018 fees: $3.5 million

NEW Q3 domestic lobbying filing

Brownstein subcontractor Holly Strategies was paid $30,000 by KGL Logistics to lobby Congress and the State and Defense departments on government contracts and annual defense legislation.

  • Hired: 2018  
  • 2018 fees: $180,000
  • Latest Filing  
  • Registered agents

    • Marc Lampkin
      Shareholder
    • Douglas Maguire
    • R. James Nicholson
      Former Secretary of Veterans Affairs and Republican Party chairman
    • Travis Norton
      Of counsel
    • Ari Zimmerman

    Other Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck clients

  • Hired: 2019  
  • Registered agents

    • David Crane
  • Hired: 2019  
  • Registered agents

    • Martha Boneta

Lobbyist A-list puts Kuwait on spot over businesswoman's arrest

Editor

Julian Pecquet

@JPecquet_ALM

jpecquet@al-monitor.com
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Julian Pecquet is the Washington Editor for Al-Monitor, where he also supervises long-form stories as well as the award-winning Lobbying Tracker. 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

An A-list of former US and international officials is threatening a global backlash against Kuwait over its arrest of a Russian businesswoman with ties to the United States.

Kuwaiti private equity group KGL Investment hired no fewer than six firms between February and April to lobby Washington for the release of former chief executive Marsha Lazareva, who was arrested last year on embezzlement charges related to the firm's Cayman Islands-registered Port Fund. Lazareva, whose mother and young son live in the United States, spent 470 days in jail before being released on bail in June.

Members of some of the world's most powerful political families have taken on the case, including Neil Bush, son of the late President George H.W. Bush; former British Prime Minister Tony Blair's wife Cherie Blair; and Tatyana Yumasheva, the daughter of the late former Russian President Boris Yeltsin. In addition, KGL has hired law firms Crowell & Moring, Freeh Sporkin & Sullivan and Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, along with lobby shops Fahmy Hudome International and Ballard Partners to encourage Congress to consider sanctions against Kuwait under the Global Magnitsky Act. Crowell & Moring in turn hired R & B Strategies, the lobbying shop started by former Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., after his 2018 defeat and paid it $70,000 in the first half of this year.

Lazareva's army of advocates “share my desire to help Kuwait from suffering international reputational damage that continues to threaten your great country,” Bush wrote to Minister of Foreign Affairs Sabah al-Khalid Al Sabah in March ahead of an eight-member delegation in March. “I personally have tremendous respect for you and Kuwait, as does the entire Bush family. I know that you would like to amicably resolve this matter.”

All told, KGL Investment paid out a total of $750,000 in the first half of the year on more than a dozen registered agents, including former FBI director Louis Freeh, President Donald Trump's former Florida lobbyist Brian Ballard and former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi. Former House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce, R-Calif., now a policy director with Brownstein Hyatt, accompanied the March delegation but is not registered to lobby on the account.

The pressure campaign has prompted a handful of US lawmakers to ask Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin to consider sanctions against several members of Kuwait's ruling Al Sabah family. But it’s gained little traction beyond that, with Trump inviting Emir Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber Al Sabah to the White House on Sept. 12 to “further strengthen our substantial economic and security ties.”

The Lazareva case has dominated Kuwait-related lobbying for more than a year. After the United Arab Emirates' central bank ordered the freezing of $496 million in Port Fund assets held at Dubai’s state-owned Noro Bank in November 2017 in cooperation with Kuwaiti authorities, the Port Fund hired Squire Patton Boggs, Crowell & Moring, Fahmy Hudome International and Brownstein Hyatt to advocate for the funds' release.

The Port Fund has paid the firms more than $2.8 million from the time they were first hired in July and August 2018. Lobbying contracts with Crowell & Moring, Fahmy Hudome International and Brownstein Hyatt were terminated between February and March 2019 after the UAE released the funds.

A separate KGL entity, KGL Logistics, continues to retain Crowell & Moring and Brownstein Hyatt to lobby regarding its government contracts with the US military. The firm signed a new $1.4 billion deal with the Pentagon in January 2018 to feed US troops in the Middle East that has come under scrutiny over KGL's work with a US-sanctioned Iranian partner. KGL Logistics spent $360,000 on lobbying in 2018 and $340,000 in the first half of 2019.

Meanwhile, another Kuwaiti logistics firm, the Agility Public Warehousing Company, has hired a flurry of lobbyists in its intensifying legal and public relations fight against KGL Logistics in US court. Agility is being sued for sending whistleblower letters to US officials accusing its rival of violating sanctions against Iran. Two of Agility’s law firms in the case, Quinn Emanuel and Skadden Arps, registered as foreign agents for Agility last month along with SGR Government Relations and Lobbying.

Agility previously hired Venable in March and paid the firm $50,000 in the second quarter to lobby Congress on the annual defense authorization bill. Former Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., is one of three registered agents on the account.

Separately, Kuwait's Al Arfaj group hired the Sonoran Policy Group for $1.2 million to provide “promotion and counsel” to the firm. Sonoran's three registered agents on the account will work on the disputed neutral zone between Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, whose Wafra and Khafji oil fields can produce 500,000 barrels a day but have been shut down for several years amid a spat between the two countries.

HIGHLIGHTS

No active lobbying

 

$0

Total lobbying and PR spending for 2018

 

 

WINS
  • US backs Kuwaiti mediation in intra-Gulf dispute
  • US pressure campaign against Iran encourages resolution of oil dispute with Saudi Arabia
  • Pentagon arms sales continue
LOSSES
  • Members of Congress threaten sanctions over businesswoman's arrest
  • Logistics contract with US military comes under scrutiny for ties to sanctioned Iranian firm
  • US fails to resolve intra-Gulf dispute

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