LOBBYING TRACKER

PRESENTED BY

DATAPOINTS

For government and agencies

$11.1 Million

LOBBYING SPEND (2018)

26

LOBBYING/PR FIRMS

66

REGISTERED AGENTS

AL-MONITOR
LOBBYING RANK

#3 (tie)

Ashcroft Law Firm
(for Qatar)

Hired: 2017
2018 fees: $0

NEW Registered foreign agent
Nathan Brennan

Nathan Brennan, an attorney, has registered to work on the Ashcroft Law Firm’s Qatar account. Brennan will “conduct open-source and legal research; draft memorandum and letters for filing in [Southern District of New York] turnover proceedings; and draft products for possible delivery to US government recipients” for Qatar and the Republic of the Congo, another Ashcroft Law Firm client, according to a filing.

RF|Binder
(for Qatar Foundation)

Hired: April 2020
Contract: $360,000/one year

NEW Informational materials

RF|Binder, which works for the Qatar Foundation, distributed a Daily Beast story on fake journalists who wrote pro-UAE articles in right-wing outlets. The firm also pitched interviews with Marc Owen Jones, a professor at the foundation’s Hamad Bin Khalifa University who is quoted in the article. RF|Binder also distributed an invitation to a Qatar Foundation webinar with Layla Saad, the author of “Me and White Supremacy.”

Bridge Builder Communications
(for Qatar)

Registered: 2020
2019 fees: $185,000

NEW Informational materials

Bridge Builder Communications, which does work for Qatar related to the Qatar Harvey Fund, distributed a press release on $2.1 million in grants by the Bob Woodruff Foundation for groups impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Bridge Builder Communications highlighted the grants made possible through a partnership with the Qatar Harvey Fund.

Debevoise & Plimpton
(for Qatar)

Hired: May 2018
2018 fees: $39,000

NEW Supplemental
(Dec. 1, 2019 – May 31, 2020)

Qatar paid law firm Debevoise & Plimpton $215,000 in fees and expense reimbursements during the six-month period ending May 31 (the firm reported $1,900 in expenses in that time). The firm reported just one meeting, with then-deputy national security adviser for Middle East and North African Affairs Victoria Coates and White House, State Department and National Security Council staff on Feb. 4 in which they “discussed Qatar's legal and equitable position with respect to” an ongoing blockade by other Gulf countries including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Chase Untermeyer
Former US ambassador to Qatar
(for Qatar)

Hired: Sept. 2019

NEW Supplemental
(Dec. 1, 2019 – May 31, 2020)

Former US Ambassador to Qatar Chase Untermeyer, who works for Qatar, was paid $90,000 by the country in the six-month period ending May 31. Untermeyer disclosed meeting with George P. Bush, the land commissioner of Texas, on Dec. 13 to “discuss possible Texas trip of the head of the US office of the Qatar Investment Authority in the interest of promoting Qatari investment in the state.” Untermeyer also attended lunches at the homes of Houston businessman Nijad Fares (Jan. 23) and former US Special Envoy to the OIC Sada Cumber (Feb. 4) to introduce the men to Qatar’s consul general. Untermeyer disclosed attending a gala at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston (Jan. 24) and a Qatar-America Institute event at the Houston Museum of Natural Science (Jan. 28) to introduce the Qatari consul general to attendees. Untermeyer also spoke by phone with Harris County, Texas, commissioner Rodney Ellis “to discuss the possibility of Qatari aid to [the] Houston community” on May 8.

Qatar-America Institute

Registered: May 2020

NEW Filing

NEW Related news

The Qatar-America Institute’s former executive director, Paul Hamill, was paid $130,000 when he worked at the think tank, according to a new filing. And the think tank says its new leadership “does not intend to engage in any activities requiring registration under FARA going forward.” In June, the think tank disclosed receiving a $5.2 million “gift & pledge” from Qatar’s embassy in 2017 along with agreements with the Qatar National Tourism Council and the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, which is responsible for 2022 World Cup preparations.

Myriad International Marketing
(for Qatar's tourism authority)

Hired: 2016
2018 fees and expenses: $286,000

NEW Supplemental
(Nov. 1, 2019 – April 30, 2020)
Fees and expenses: $141,000

Myriad International Marketing reported $141,000 in fees (including expenses) for the Qatar Tourism Authority and $232,000 in expenses for the tourism authority for the six-month period ending April 30.

Ballard Partners
(for Qatar)

Hired: March 2018
2018 fees: $650,000

NEW Terminated foreign agent

Ballard Partners’ Jamie Rubin, a former assistant secretary of state for public affairs in the Bill Clinton administration, has stopped working for foreign clients, including Qatar.

Coast to Coast Strategies
(for Qatar-America Institute)

Hired: 2019

NEW Contract

The Qatar-America Institute (QAI), the pro-Qatar think tank that last week disclosed its Qatari government funding, hired Coast to Coast Strategies to provide “strategic planning, recruitment of participants, participating in scheduled conferences/delegations and assist in developing an alumni program for the Qatar-America Leadership Program (QALE) throughout the United States.” According to a contract, which began Jan. 1, Coast to Coast was due to be paid $189,900 for one year’s work. The sole registered foreign agent on the account is Saulius Anuzis, the chairman of the Michigan Republican Party from 2005 to 2009. According to his filing, Azunis was expected to be paid $123,000 for the work. According to a separate QAI filing, the think tank paid Coast to Coast $219,000 in October 2019 for “arrangements for QALE delegation.” Coast to Coast also disclosed informational materials that included a post-delegation report.

Gallagher Group
(for Qatar)

Hired: July 2016
2018 fees: $411,000

NEW Supplemental (termination)
(March 1, 2020 – Aug. 31, 2020)

The Gallagher Group stopped lobbying for Qatar on March 27. The firm, which ceased all lobbying activity for Qatar on Feb. 26, was hired by Portland PR to work for Qatar in 2015; in July 2016, it started working directly for the embassy. Qatar paid the firm $545,000 in 2019 and $227,000 this year.

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.