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#13 (tie)

Trip: Nov. 27, 2019 to Nov. 29, 2019
1 lawmaker

Trip type: Congressional delegation
Destination: Kuwait
Lawmakers: Rep. Haley Stevens, D-Mich.

Rep. Haley Stevens, D-Mich., went on a congressional delegation to Kuwait from Nov. 27 to 29.

Victory Coalition Strategies
(for Port Fund)

Hired: Jan.2020

NEW Domestic lobbying registration

Victory Coalition Strategies, which is registered to lobby for Kuwaiti private equity fund KGL Investment via Crowell and Moring, has now also registered to lobby for KGL Investment’s Cayman Islands-based Port Fund, effective Jan. 21. Conservative activist Martha Boneta is the only registered lobbyist on both accounts. KGL Investment has launched a multimillion-dollar campaign to pressure Kuwait to drop embezzlement charges against its former CEO, Marsha Lazareva.

R & B Strategies
Crowell & Moring subcontractor
(for KGL Investment)

Hired: Feb. 2019

NEW Q1 domestic lobbying termination

R&B Strategies stopped working for Kuwaiti private equity fund KGL Investment Jan. 2. The firm was paid $45,000 in the first quarter of 2020 and disclosed lobbying Congress and the State Department regarding “Defense contacts on Human Rights.” R&B was serving as a subcontractor to Crowell & Moring, which is spearheading a multimillion-dollar campaign to pressure Kuwait to drop embezzlement charges against former KGL Investment CEO Marsha Lazareva.

Sonoran Policy Group
(for Saud Abdul Aziz al-Arfaj)

Hired: Feb. 2019
2018 fees: $1.2 million

NEW Supplemental
(July 1, 2019 – Dec. 31, 2019)
Fees: $0

Sonoran Policy Group terminated its contract with Kuwaiti oil magnate Saud Abdul Aziz al-Arfaj on Dec. 31, according to the firm’s lobbying filing for the second half of 2019. The firm did not disclose any political activity on behalf of Arfaj during that period. Lobbyist Anne Ekern left the firm Oct. 20, leaving founder Robert Stryk and CEO Christian Bourge as the firm’s only two foreign agents.

Quadripoint Strategies
Venable subcontractor
(for Agility Public Warehousing Company via Venable)

Hired: Aug. 2019

NEW Q4 domestic lobbying filing amendment

Venable subcontractor Quadripoint Strategies has amended its fourth-quarter lobbying filing for Kuwaiti logistics company Agility to disclose that it was paid $45,000 — not less than $5,000 — to lobby Congress and the executive branch on “troop support contracts and contract disputes.”

Holly Strategies
Brownstein subcontractor
(for KGL Logistics)

Hired: 2003
2018 fees: $3.5 million

NEW Q4 domestic lobbying filing

Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, a lobbyist for Kuwaiti firm KGL Logistics, paid Holly Strategies $30,000 to lobby Congress and the State and Defense departments on “issues related to government contracts” and the annual defense bill.

(for Agility Public Warehousing Company)

Hired: March 2019

NEW Q4 domestic lobbying filing

The Kuwait-based Agility Public Warehousing Company paid Venable $60,000 to lobby Congress on the National Defense Authorization Act. 

Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck
(for KGL Investment)

Hired: March 2019

NEW Q4 domestic lobbying filing

Kuwaiti private equity firm KGL Investment paid Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck $200,000 to lobby the departments of State and Treasury to levy human rights sanctions against Kuwait if it does not drop embezzlement charges against former KGL Investment CEO Marsha Lazareva.

Freeh Sporkin & Sullivan
(for KGL Investment)

Hired: Feb. 2019

NEW Q4 domestic lobbying filing

Freeh Sporkin & Sullivan reported no lobbying activity and less than $5,000 in fees for Kuwaiti private equity firm KGL Investment.

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

Hired: Aug. 2019

NEW Q4 domestic lobbying filing

Crowell & Moring paid Squire Patton Boggs $150,000 for its work on behalf of Kuwaiti private equity firm KGL Investment. Patton Boggs lobbied the Senate, State Department, Treasury Department and White House on alleged human rights violations.

  • Hired: 2019  
  • 2019 fees: $20,000
  • Registered agents

    • Ralph Caccia
      Partner and former Assistant US Attorney
    • Kevin Muhlendorf
      Partner and former assistant chief of the fraud section of the Justice Department’s securities and financial fraud unit

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


Julian Pecquet



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

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.


No active lobbying



Total lobbying and PR spending for 2018



  • Sanctions campaign tied to legal dispute fails to take off
  • US pressure campaign against Iran encourages resolution of oil dispute with Saudi Arabia
  • Pentagon arms sales continue
  • Right-wing media echo anti-Kuwait lobby claims
  • Members of Congress threaten sanctions over businesswoman's arrest
  • Logistics contract with US military comes under scrutiny for ties to sanctioned Iranian firm