LOBBYING TRACKER

PRESENTED BY

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DATAPOINTS

For government and agencies

$11.1 Million

LOBBYING SPEND (2018)

24

LOBBYING/PR FIRMS

60

REGISTERED AGENTS

AL-MONITOR
LOBBYING RANK

#7 (tie)

Ashcroft Law Firm
(for Qatar)

Hired: 2017
2018 fees: $0

NEW Amendment

Former Attorney General John Ashcroft’s Ashcroft Law Firm amended past filings to disclose that registered foreign agents Ashcroft, Mike Sullivan and David Ayres attended an autism fundraiser hosted by their client, the Embassy of Qatar, in 2018 and 2019.

Mercury Public Affairs
(for Qatar)

Hired: 2014
2018 fees and expenses: $1.2 million

NEW Supplemental
(June 1, 2019 – Nov. 30, 2019)

Mercury Public Affairs received more than $1 million from Middle Eastern clients from June through November, including $242,000 from Qatar.

Mercury also reported $242,000 in fees and expenses from Qatar’s government communications office. Mercury reported meetings with World Affairs Councils of America President and CEO Bill Clifford, Wilson Center project manager Merissa Khurma and program and research associate Alexander Farley before the account was terminated in mid-October. Mercury currently works for Qatar’s Embassy in Washington through a separate contract that began in November.

Avenue Strategies Global
(for Qatar)

Hired: July 2017
2018 fees: $685,000

NEW Supplemental
(Aug. 1, 2019 – Jan. 31, 2019)

NEW Terminated foreign agents
John Cpin
Angus Green Jr.

Avenue Strategies Global did not report any lobbying for their clients — which include Qatar — in the six-month period ending Jan. 31. The firm also did not report any lobbying-related payments in that time period. In addition, John Cpin and Angus Green Jr. have left the firm, where they were registered to lobby for Qatar. Cpin was terminated on July 26, and Green on Sept. 29.

Lexington Avenue Consulting
Registered: December 2019
(for Qatar)

Hired: Sept. 2018

NEW Contract

Allison Biggs has signed a new contract with Qatar through her firm, Lexington Avenue Consulting. Biggs was previously registered to work for the Qatari Embassy in Washington as an individual. The firm will be paid $25,000 per month according to the new agreement, which was effective Feb. 1, to advise and assist the embassy’s support for victims of Hurricane Harvey.

Orlie Yaniv Strategies
(for Gigamon)

Hired: 2016
2018 fees: $120,000

NEW Q1 domestic lobbying termination

Orlie Yanov Strategies stopped lobbying for California-based computer networking company Gigamon on March 5. The Qatar Investment Authority owns 30% of Gigamon.

McDermott Will & Emery
(for Qatar)

Hired: 2017
2018 fees and expenses: $480,000

NEW Supplemental
(Aug. 1, 2019 – Jan. 31, 2020)

Qatar paid McDermott Will & Emery $160,000 in August and September before the contract with the Qatari Embassy in Washington was terminated Sept. 23. During that time, former Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va., gave a presentation at the Gulf International Forum in Washington on the topic of "Afghanistan: Does the Road to Peace Run Through the Gulf?" Moran now lobbies for Qatar via Nelson Mullins.

Ott, Bielitzki & O'Neill
Barzan Aeronautical subcontractor
(for Barzan Aeronautical)

Hired: 2015
2018 fees: $150,000

NEW Supplemental
(Aug. 1, 2019 – Jan. 31, 2020)

Ott, Bielitzki & O'Neill was paid $1.65 million in fees and expenses to provide “legal and government relations counsel on commercial and export control matters” for Barzan Aeronautical, a South Carolina-based spyplane maker owned by Qatar’s Defense Ministry, in the six months through January. The firm reached out to the offices of the state’s US senators, Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott, and invited Gov. Henry McMaster, state Sen. Paul Campbell and others to attend the Oct. 24 signing of a sister-cities agreement between Doha and Charleston, attended by Ambassador Sheikh Meshal bin Hamad Al Thani and Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg. The firm contributed $2,000 to the mayor’s campaign in early October.

Gallagher Group
(for Qatar)

Hired: July 2016
2018 fees: $411,000

NEW Contract extension

The Gallagher Group has extended its $45,000-per-month contract with Qatar through 2020.

PAVEA
(for Qatar)

Hired: Jan. 2019

NEW Termination

PAVEA, the lobbying firm run by former Serbian ambassador to the United States, Vladimir Petrovic, stopped working for Qatar Aug. 31. The firm reported $400,000 in fees in 2019.

Holland and Knight
Nelson Mullins subcontractor
(for Qatar)

Hired: Feb. 2020 (contract effective March 2020)
Contract: $35,000/month

NEW Contract

Qatar is bringing on two Republican ex-lawmakers for the express purpose of lobbying their former GOP colleagues amid persistent right-wing criticism of Doha as a friend of Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood.
 
The $35,000-per-month contract with Holland and Knight is set to begin March 1 and has no expiration date. The firm will serve as a subcontractor for Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough, which is already registered to work for the Gulf country. Former Reps. Tom Davis and Thomas Reynolds, Republicans who represented Virginia and New York, have registered to work on the account along with Jodi Richardson, a former aide to Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind. Read more here.

Qatar fends off congressional attacks on Al Jazeera

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

Middle East news giant Al Jazeera has emerged as a major battleground in the fight for Washington influence between Qatar and its Gulf rivals.

The Doha-based network hired DLA Piper in June and paid the law firm $40,000 that month to provide US policymakers with “informational communications regarding client's journalism, press freedom, and other issues impacting client's US operations.” The lobbying push comes as the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Republican lawmakers have been doubling down on their campaign to cast the network as a foreign agent of Qatar rather than a legitimate news outlet.

Pressure on Al Jazeera has been building since 19 lawmakers led by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Reps. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., and Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J., asked the Justice Department to investigate whether the outlet should be required to register as a foreign agent in March 2018. Five months later, Congress passed an annual defense authorization bill that requires US-based foreign media outlets to file biannual reports to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) describing their legal status and government funding.

Lobbyists for the UAE, which shares Republicans’ distaste for Al Jazeera’s support for Islamists and other groups that threaten the regional status quo, have jumped into the fray to argue that the news outlet should register with the FCC. Since the first half of 2018, longtime UAE lobbyist Akin Gump has courted lawmakers including Cruz and Zeldin and met with FCC officials to find out more about the new reporting requirement, as well as with the general counsel of the pro-Israel lobby American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

The campaign has forced Qatar to remain on the defensive. The country’s embassy in Washington alone has added 12 firms to its lobbying roster since Saudi Arabia and the UAE declared an embargo in June 2017, including two this year and six in 2018. Qatari government lobbying spending totaled $11.1 million in 2018 — less than the $18.5 million spent in 2017 but still three times more than the $3.6 million spent in 2016.

Despite the unwanted attention, Qatar remains a key US partner in the region. Doha is notably shelling out $1.8 billion for improvements to the main US air base in the region at al-Udeid and buying billions of dollars worth of US weapons, including 24 new Apache attack helicopters.

Paradoxically, Qatar’s maverick foreign policy, while isolating the emirate from its neighbors, has also allowed the country to play an outsized diplomatic role. Having accommodated senior members of the Taliban since 2013, Doha is now hosting peace talks between the Afghan Islamists and the Donald Trump administration.

Likewise in the Gaza Strip, Qatar’s relations with Hamas, while anathema to many lawmakers in Congress, allowed Doha to help broker a cease-fire with Israel in May and spearhead talks to try to end the current spate of violence. The Trump administration’s decision to end US aid to the Palestinians has also boosted Qatar’s profile, with Doha pledging $480 million to help prevent the financial collapse of the Palestinian Authority.

HIGHLIGHTS

Main lobbying firm:
Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough

 

 

$11.1 million

Total lobbying and PR spending for 2018

 

 

WINS
  • US doesn't require Al Jazeera to register as a foreign agent
  • Pentagon deepens military ties
  • Doha hosts US-Taliban talks
LOSSES
  • Education Department wants US universities to better disclose foreign funding
  • Congress raises pressure on Al Jazeera
  • US fails to settle intra-Gulf dispute

image-from-the-document-manager

Qatar hires former US ambassador to Doha

Editor

Aaron Schaffer

aaronjschaffer

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Posted: November 22, 2019

Qatar has hired former US Ambassador to Doha Chase Untermeyer to advocate on its behalf. Untermeyer is tasked with “advancing bilateral Qatar-US trade and investment opportunities” as well as “cultural/academic exchanges” in Texas, where he currently lives. He is to be paid $180,000 per year under the yearlong contract, which began Sept. 1.

Untermeyer told Al-Monitor via email on Thursday that he would conduct “no lobbying and nothing at all on a federal level.” He said his role is “purely one of relationship-building within Texas in the areas cited. This may require contacting state and local officials but not to get them to vote or rule a particular way.”

Untermeyer served as ambassador to Doha from 2004 to 2007. In recent years, he has served as the founding chairman of the Qatar-America Institute, a Washington nonprofit that counts Qatar’s tourism council and its World Cup organization — the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy — among its sponsors. Untermeyer said he resigned as chairman after signing the contract with the Qatari Embassy in Washington.

In his Nov. 18 registration under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, Untermeyer also disclosed a Qatar-funded trip to the country in September with Texas land commissioner George P. Bush, son of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. Untermeyer told Al-Monitor that they met with officials, including Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Defense Minister Khalid bin Mohammad Al Attiyah, Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani, US charge d’affaires William Grant and an official with the Qatar Investment Authority. The visitors also toured the campus of Texas A&M University in Qatar.

The visit comes as the nonprofit Zachor Legal Institute, which fights the boycott movement against Israel, has asked Texas A&M to hand over documents showing its funding by the Qatari government. The semi-public Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development has filed a lawsuit against the state of Texas to keep the records private. The Justice Department has opened an investigation into foreign funding at the university, The Associated Press reports.

Untermeyer joins a roster of more than 50 lobbyists, public relations executives and consultants seeking to burnish Qatar’s reputation amid a multimillion dollar attack campaign by its Gulf rivals, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Doha spent more than $11 million on lobbying and public relations in 2018, an Al-Monitor analysis of lobbying disclosures shows. Saudi Arabia and the UAE spent more than $31 million and $18.2 million last year, respectively.