LOBBYING TRACKER

PRESENTED BY

Levick logo

DATAPOINTS

Includes Halkbank

$5.6 Million

LOBBYING SPEND (2018)

7

LOBBYING/PR FIRMS

31

REGISTERED AGENTS

AL-MONITOR
LOBBYING RANK

#22

The Turkish Radio-Television Corporation
(for the Turkish Radio and Television Corporation)

Registered: March 2020

NEW Related news

Turkish broadcaster TRT has lost its credentials for covering Capitol Hill after being forced to register as a foreign agent, Al-Monitor has learned.

According to the Radio and Television Correspondents’ Association (RTCA), the rules of Congress prohibit credentialed media “from engaging in lobbying, advertising, publicity or promotion work for any individual, corporation, organization or government.” As a result, and in keeping with past practice, the association has rescinded TRT’s credentials for as long as the Department of Justice requires it to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).

“TRT's credential request is on hold until the organization resolves its matter with the Department of Justice,” the RTCA Executive Committee told Al-Monitor in an emailed statement.

The Justice Department ordered TRT’s Washington office to register last summer, saying the outlet is engaged in “political activities” on behalf of the Turkish government. TRT complied earlier this month, even as it insists it is financially and editorially independent of Ankara.

The credentials are necessary to access certain areas of the Capitol where lawmakers congregate, and to cover news events and work out of Capitol Hill studios. TRT journalists can still enter House and Senate office buildings as members of the public

Mercury Public Affairs
New contract
(for Turkey-US Business Council)

Hired: Jan. 2020
Contract: $1 million

NEW Registered foreign agent
John Anthony Deschauer

John Anthony Deschauer has registered as a foreign agent on Mercury Public Affairs’ account with the Turkey-US Business Council (TAIK). Deschauer is also registered to lobby for Turkey and Libya.

Mercury Public Affairs
(for Turkey)

Hired: May 2018
2018 fees: $758,000

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

NEW Terminated foreign agent
Daniel Rajaiah

Mercury Public Affairs received more than $1 million from Middle Eastern clients from June through November, including $500,000 from Turkey.
  
The firm reported $500,000 in fees from Turkey and disclosed sending dozens of emails to think tank officials and journalists. Mercury disclosed meeting with Syrian American Council policy and advocacy officer Shlomo Bolts; Nicholas Heras, then a fellow at the Center for a New American Security; and Jeff Donald, a senior vice president at the Business Council for International Understanding.

In addition, Mercury Vice President Daniel Rajaiah stopped working on the firm’s account with Turkey Nov. 30. Rajaiah is now director of global strategy and operations at Mastercard.

CHP Representative Office to the US

Registered: 2013

NEW Informational materials

The US office of Turkey’s opposition Republican People’s Party distributed a statement from Deputy Chairman Unal Cevikoz denouncing the Donald Trump administration’s Middle East peace plan as a “dangerous initiative” designed “more with domestic policy concerns and one that may lead to new tensions in our region.”

Capitol Counsel
Greenberg Traurig subcontractor
(for Turkey)

Hired: Nov. 2015
2018 fees: $432,000

NEW Contract renewal

Greenberg Traurig has renewed its contract with Capitol Counsel to act as a subcontractor on its account with the Turkish government through 2020. The contract is for $442,000, $10,000 more than Capitol Counsel received in 2018. Capitol Counsel partner and former Rep. Charles Boustany, R-La., signed the contract on Jan. 24.

Cogent Strategies
(for Alliance for Shared Values)

Hired: Feb. 2018
2018 fees: $100,000

NEW Q4 domestic lobbying filing

The Alliance for Shared Values, which is aligned with exiled Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen, paid Cogent Strategies $30,000 last quarter to lobby Congress.

Fidelis Government Relations
(for National Council on Civil Advocacy)

Hired: Jan. 2020

NEW Domestic lobbying registration

Supporters of exiled Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen have brought on another lobbyist to advocate on human rights issues in Turkey, which blames Gulen for a failed coup in 2016. Bilal Eksili’s National Council of Civil Advocacy, which recently registered to lobby in-house, has now brought on Fidelis Government Relations to lobby on “human rights, religious freedom and social justice in Turkey,” effective Jan. 6. Terry Allen is the sole lobbyist on the account. Fidelis previously lobbied for another firm led by Eksili, the now-defunct Washington Diplomacy Group, in 2017 and 2018, and was paid $77,000 for its efforts.

McGinn and Company
(for Halkbank)

Hired: Dec. 2017
2018 fees: $560,000

NEW Q4 domestic lobbying filing

Turkey’s state-owned Halkbank paid McGinn and Company $20,000 for “media counseling” in connection with the federal investigation into its activities. In October, the bank was indicted in federal court with scheming to circumvent US sanctions on Iran. Shortly after the indictment, Ballard Partners stopped representing the bank.

Greenberg Traurig
(for Turkey)

Hired: 2014
2018 fees: $1.7 million

NEW Supplemental
(May 1, 2019 – Oct. 31, 2019)
Fees: $769,000

Greenberg Traurig received $769,000 from Turkey in the six-month period ending Oct. 31. Greenberg Traurig lobbyists met with more than a dozen House members, including four meetings with Congressional Turkey Caucus co-chairman Steve Chabot, R-Ohio. Lobbyists also met with Sens. Ben Cardin, D-Md., Thom Tillis, R-N.C., Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., and Mike Rounds, R-S.D. The meeting with Inhofe, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and committee member Rounds came on May 22, the day after the United States gave Turkey an ultimatum to rescind its purchase of a Russian missile system.

National Council on Civil Advocacy
(in-house)

Registered: Sept. 2019

NEW Q4 domestic lobbying filing

Al-Monitor first reported that supporters of exiled Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen had once again registered to lobby on human rights issues in Turkey, which blames Gulen for a failed coup in 2016. Now newly disclosed activity logs reveal that the National Council on Civil Advocacy spent $10,000 on in-house lobbying in both the third and fourth quarters of 2019. In the last three months of the year, the group lobbied Congress regarding “proposals to address violations of human rights, the rule of law and civil rights by the government of Turkey,” including a bill to provide support to “prisoners of conscience and politically motivated prisoners” in the country (the bill includes a section on Enes Kanter, an NBA athlete and outspoken critic of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who faces arrest if he returns to Turkey). The group’s lobbyist, Bilal Eksili, also lobbied on a bill focusing on efforts by foreign governments to use Interpol “for political and unlawful purposes.” Eksili’s group’s address is the same as the Rumi Forum, which counts Gulen as its honorary chairman.

    S-3 Group
    • 2019 fees: $120,000

Ankara lobbyists can’t mend US-Turkey rift

Editor

Julian Pecquet

@JPecquet_ALM

jpecquet@al-monitor.com
bookmark

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

Turkey spent more than $5.5 million last year trying to patch a deepening rift with the United States.

In the end, all it bought was heartache.

For years, Ankara has faulted its NATO ally for failing to fully grasp what Turkey views as existential threats, whether from Kurdish militants in Syria or alleged coup plotters under the supposed influence of a US-based cleric. Tensions finally came to a head this year when Turkey, infuriated by Washington’s 2015 decision to pull its Patriot missile batteries from the Syrian border, closed a rival arms deal with Russia.

Much of Turkey’s recent influence operations have aimed to convince Congress and the Donald Trump administration not to cancel its planned purchase of 100 F-35 jet fighters and to allow Turkey to continue producing some 900 parts for the plane. Turkish lobbyists have also spent countless hours trying to take down Pennsylvania-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Ankara accuses of masterminding the 2016 coup attempt against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

In a bid to eliminate a key irritant in bilateral relations, Ankara released US pastor Andrew Brunson in October 2018 after he served two years in prison on charges of involvement in the 2016 coup. But other sticking points could not be resolved.

After Turkey ignored repeated US warnings not to proceed with the Russian S-400 missile defense purchase, the White House canceled Ankara’s F-35 sale order in mid-July and booted it out of the international co-production program. A month later, the Pentagon told Al-Monitor that it had rescinded a $3.5 billion offer to sell Turkey Patriot missile batteries.

Attempts to convince the Trump administration to extradite Gulen also appear dead in the water.

After pocketing $500,000 in 2017 as the lead firm fighting to unravel a Gulen-linked network of US charter schools, Washington law firm Amsterdam & Partners saw its payments shrink to just $150,000 last year despite a $50,000-per-month contract. In its latest lobbying filing, the firm reported no political activity for the six months through April and blamed “bureaucratic inertia” for Turkey’s failure to pay up for 17 months.

Despite significant setbacks, Turkey can take some solace from the fact that its foes are also feeling the pinch.

Even as the anti-Erdogan mood in Washington promises a sympathetic ear, pro-Gulen lobbying has collapsed amid reports that the group is hurting for money as Turkey clamps down on its businesses. Sextons Creek and Fidelis Government Solutions both pulled out last summer, leaving only Cogent Strategies working for the Gulenist New York nonprofit Alliance for Shared Values.

Turkey’s campaign of damaging leaks regarding the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul has also paid off, with Saudi Arabia facing one of the worst hits to its reputation in Washington since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

And Ankara does have a few other wins in its column.

State-owned Halkbank spent more than $2 million last year lobbying to minimize the damage from its alleged violations of US sanctions on Iran. The bank’s former deputy director general, Mehmet Hakan Atilla, was released from US prison in July after serving a 32-month sentence but the bank itself has so far avoided fines in the case.

Turkey is also expressing satisfaction with its new deal with the United States on a safe zone along the Syrian border. US-backed Kurdish forces began moving away from the border late last month, allowing Erdogan to back off his threats to launch a new incursion into Syria.

Despite that rare diplomatic breakthrough, Turkey’s turn away from the United States appears to be irreversible. Following Ankara’s expulsion from the F-35 program, Erdogan attended an arms show with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow in late August during which the two leaders shared their interest in Russian warplane sales to Turkey.

HIGHLIGHTS

Main lobbying firm:
Greenberg Traurig

 

 

$5.6 million

Total lobbying and PR spending for 2018

 

 

WINS
  • Trump tacitly OKs Syrian incursion
  • State Department rejects Armenian genocide designation
  • Pentagon seeks to limit fallout from worsening relationship
LOSSES
  • Congress recognizes Armenian genocide
  • Congress votes to lift arms embargo on Cyprus
  • Halkbank indicted on sanctions-busting charges

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