LOBBYING TRACKER

PRESENTED BY

Levick logo

DATAPOINTS

Includes Halkbank

$5.6 Million

LOBBYING SPEND (2018)

7

LOBBYING/PR FIRMS

30

REGISTERED AGENTS

AL-MONITOR
LOBBYING RANK

#20 (tie)

Ballard Partners
(for Halkbank)

Hired: Aug. 2017
2018 fees (including reimbursements): $1.5 million

NEW Supplemental
(May 1, 2019 – Oct. 31, 2019)
Fees: $455,000

Ballard Partners received $455,000 from Turkey’s state-owned Halkbank from April 1 until it dropped the firm in mid-October following its indictment on charges that it schemed to circumvent US sanctions on Iran. During that time, Ballard only registered two contacts with US officials, both with Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and Eurasian Affairs Phil Reeker.

LB International Solutions
Greenberg Traurig subcontractor
(for Turkey)

Hired: 2014
2018 fees: $270,000 (from Greenberg Traurig)

NEW Supplemental
(April 1, 2019 – Sept. 30, 2019)
Fees: $135,000 (from Greenberg Traurig)

Turkey lobbyist Greenberg Traurig paid subcontractor LB International Solutions $135,000 in the six months through September. LB in turn paid a $12,000 consulting fee to consultant John McGregor’s McGregor Group on April 15. During that time, firm president Lydia Borland met with House Foreign Affairs Committee members Steve Chabot, R-Ohio; Tim Burchett, R-Tenn.; and Steve Watkins, R-Kansas, to discuss US-Turkey relations, as well as staff for the committee. Chabot is the co-chairman of the congressional caucus on US-Turkey relations and Turkish Americans. In addition, John McGregor stopped working as a consultant for LB International Solutions on May 1. He had been a registered agent for Turkey via LB since January 2017.

 

Venable
Greenberg Traurig subcontractor
(for Turkey)

Hired: Feb. 2019

NEW Supplemental
(May 1, 2019 – Oct. 30, 2019)
Fees: $45,000 (from Greenberg Traurig)

Venable was paid $45,000 via Turkey lobbyist Greenberg Traurig during the six months through October. During that time, the firm tried to stop a House resolution acknowledging the Armenian genocide from making it to the floor. Former Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., sent emails to two aides to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., on Oct. 22 to “request” that the resolution “not come to House floor for a vote.” One week later, Pelosi spoke on the floor in support of the resolution, which passed 405-11. Stupak also attended visiting Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul’s June meeting with Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Rep. Bill Keating, D-Mass. The firm reached out to at least 11 congressional offices to invite members of Congress on a trip to Turkey.

Mercury Public Affairs
(for Turkey)

Hired: May 2018
2018 fees: $758,000

NEW Registered foreign agent
John Anthony Deschauer

NEW Informational materials

Public relations consultant John Anthony Deschauer has registered to lobby on a part-time basis for the Turkish Embassy in Washington and for Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli via Mercury Public Affairs. He will assist Turkey with “public relations campaigns, including speaking with and dispensing information to members of the media” and provide “strategic consulting regarding public affairs and government relations, including outreach to US official, nongovernmental organizations and think tanks” on behalf of the GNA. Deschauer previously lobbied for Qatar via Levick Strategic Communications and Saudi Arabia via Qorvis Communications.

In addition, Mercury Public Affairs distributed an op-ed by Turkish Ambassador to the US Serdar Kilic responding to an Oct. 2 Washington Times piece by Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Fla., attacking Turkish designs on Cyprus. Bilirakis has led the effort in the House of Representatives to end the three-decade arms embargo on Cyprus along with Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I. An edited version of Kilic’s op-ed ran in the Washington Times Oct. 27.

CHP Representative Office to the US

Registered: 2013

NEW Informational materials

The US office of Turkey’s opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) shared its own policy recommendations following Ankara’s incursion into northeast Syria last month. The CHP believes Turkey should not take sides in Middle East conflicts, and supports diplomacy between Ankara and Damascus, while supporting the deployment of Turkish troops to battle Kurdish militants in Syria. The CHP also takes issue with President Donald Trump’s threats against Turkey and accuses President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party of making “irrelevant excuses” for Trump.

S-3 Group
(for Karsan USA)

Hired: March 2019

NEW Domestic lobbying amendments

S-3 Group has amended its three 2019 quarterly domestic lobbying filings for Karsan USA, the US subsidiary of Turkish auto manufacturer Karsan Automotive, to note that Michaeleen Earle Crowell, a former chief of staff to Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., did not lobby the Senate. Karsan paid S-3 $50,000 to lobby Congress on “issues related to the FLEET (Federal Leadership in Energy Efficient Transportation) Act and electric vehicles” in the third quarter.

Capitol Counsel
Greenberg Traurig subcontractor
(for Turkey)

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

NEW Informational materials

Recent lobbying filings offer new insights into Turkey lobbyists’ doomed efforts to prevent the US House of Representatives from recognizing the Armenian genocide last month. Capitol Counsel — a subcontractor to Turkey lobbyist Greenberg Traurig — distributed a 2000 letter from President Bill Clinton to House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., warning of “far-reaching negative consequences for the United States” if such a resolution were brought to the floor and passed. The House eventually passed the bill 405-11.

Finn Partners
(for Turkey Promotion Group)

Hired: June 2019
Contract: $55,000

NEW Contract

NEW Supplemental
(April 1, 2019 – Sept. 30, 2019)

The Turkey Promotion Group has hired Finn Partners to undertake an “aggressive media relations campaign targeting business-to-business and business-to-consumer audiences concurrently.” The Turkey Promotion Group is under the purview of the Turkish Ministry of Trade and was created by law last year. The contract with Finn was signed Aug. 8 but was effective June 15.

Giran Ozcan
HDP Representative to the US

Registered: 2017

NEW Supplemental
(April 1, 2019 – Sept. 30, 2019)

Fees: $20,000 (travel and personal expenses

Giran Ozcan, the US representative for Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), disclosed meeting with top State Department officials who deal with Turkey in the six months through September. Contacts include Yuri Kim, the director of the office of Southern European affairs, and Rich Outzen, a senior adviser for Syria Engagement. Ozcan also met with six senators, one Senate Foreign Relations Committee staffer and the offices of 49 House members. Ozcan reported receiving $20,000 from the HDP for “travel and personal expenses” during the filing period.

Capitol Decisions
(for Imperial Natural Resources Trona Mining)

Hired: Feb. 2019

NEW Q3 domestic lobbying filing

Imperial Natural Resources Trona Mining, a US company owned by billionaire Turkish mining magnate Turgay Ciner, paid Capitol Decisions $40,000 to lobby Congress regarding “Bureau of Land Management, Lease, Sale and Permit related issues.” The firm owns one of the biggest trona mines in Wyoming, which is refined into soda ash, the state’s biggest international export.

Ankara lobbyists can’t mend US-Turkey rift

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

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
  • US and Turkey agree on Syria cease-fire zone
  • State-owned Halkbank avoids sanctions
  • Turkish rivals lose lobbying clout
LOSSES
  • Pentagon ejects Turkey from F-35 program
  • US uninterested in extraditing alleged coup plotter
  • Trump steel and aluminum tariffs remain in place

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