LOBBYING TRACKER

PRESENTED BY

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DATAPOINTS

For government and agencies

$11.1 Million

LOBBYING SPEND (2018)

22

LOBBYING/PR FIRMS

60

REGISTERED AGENTS

AL-MONITOR
LOBBYING RANK

#5 (tie)

Myriad International Marketing
(for Qatar's tourism authority)

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

NEW Supplemental
(May 1, 2019 – Oct. 31, 2019)
Fees and expenses: $187,000

NEW Registered agent
Dylan Fox

Qatar’s tourism authority paid Myriad International Marketing $187,000 in fees and expenses in the six-month period ending Oct. 31. The firm spent $72,000 for its Qatar account in that period and did not report any political activity. Dylan Fox has registered to work on the account.

 

Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough
(for Qatar)

Hired: July 2017
2018 fees: $1.5 million

NEW Supplemental
(May 1, 2019 – Oct. 31, 2019)
Fees: $896,000

Nelson Mullins received $896,000 from Qatar in the six months through October. Lobbyists for the firm met with multiple officials including Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jim Risch, R-Idaho, and Steve Pinkos, Vice President Mike Pence’s deputy national security adviser.

Ballard Partners
(for Qatar)

Hired: March 2018
2018 fees: $650,000

NEW Supplemental
(May 1, 2019 – Oct. 31, 2019)
Fees: $660,000

Ballard was paid $660,000 in the six months through October by Qatar but did not disclose any contacts with US officials.

Venable
(for Qatar)

Hired: Jan. 2018
2018 fees: $1.3 million

NEW Supplemental
(May 1, 2019 – Oct. 31, 2019)
Fees: $250,000

Venable was paid $250,000 by Qatar during the six months through October. During that time, the firm reached out to at least 47 congressional offices to invite members of Congress on a trip to Qatar.

ThirdCircle
(for Qatar)

Hired: Jan. 2019

NEW Supplemental
(May 1, 2019 – Oct. 31, 2019)
Fees: $280,000

ThirdCircle reported $280,000 in payments from the government of Qatar in the six months through October. The firm assisted with arranging US government and business delegations to Qatar.

Chase Untermeyer
Former US ambassador to Qatar
(for Qatar)

Hired: Sept. 2019

NEW Contract

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 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.” Read the full story here.

T. Dean Reed
(for Qatar)

Hired: June 2018
2018 fees: $30,000

NEW Contract renewal

Dean Reed has renewed its $10,000-per-month public relations contract with Qatar’s embassy in Washington.

Timothy A. Glassco Consulting
(for Golden Pass Products)

Hired: 2017
2018 fees: $120,000

NEW Q3 domestic lobbying filing

Golden Pass Products, a Texas liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal 70% owned by Qatar, paid Timothy A. Glassco Consulting $30,000 to lobby Congress, the National Security Council and the National Economic Council regarding LNG exports.

SGR Government Affairs and Lobbying
Venable subcontractor
(for Qatar)

Hired: Feb. 2018
2018 fees: $440,000

NEW Supplemental
(April 1, 2019 – Sept. 30, 2019)
Fees: $360,000
Meetings: Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich.

SGR Government Relations & Lobbying received $360,000 from Venable as a subcontractor representing Qatar. The firm notably met with Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., and emailed the offices of Reps. Rick Crawford, R-Ark., and Jack Bergman, R-Mich., after he wrote an op-ed denouncing Qatari TV station Al-Jazeera. SGR also reached out three times to former Rep. Randy Hultgren, R-Ill., in April. The firm also coordinated a media campaign that included sponsored content in Politico and the sponsorship of the daily Playbook newsletter. Venable hired SGR as a subcontractor for $40,000 per month in February 2018.

Portland PR
(for Qatar)

Hired: Jan. 2014

NEW Supplemental
(April 1, 2019 – Sept. 30, 2019)
Fees: $120,000

The government of Qatar paid Portland PR $120,000 in the six months through Sept. 30 for advice on government communications and media relations. In addition, Portland PR employees Kayla Elias, Haydee Escalante, Claire Sunderland Ferguson, Natasha Lobo and Jamie Silverstein stopped working for Qatar on unspecified dates, leaving only five foreign agents on the account.

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
  • Pentagon deepens military ties
  • Doha hosts US-Taliban talks
  • US aid freeze to Palestinians elevates Qatar
LOSSES
  • Congress raises pressure on Al Jazeera
  • US fails to settle intra-Gulf dispute
  • Gulf foes ramp up costly lobbying war

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.