LOBBYING TRACKER

PRESENTED BY

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DATAPOINTS

Includes lobbying by individual emirates

$18.2 Million

LOBBYING SPEND (2018)

15

LOBBYING/PR FIRMS

74

REGISTERED AGENTS

AL-MONITOR
LOBBYING RANK

#7 (tie)

UAE Strategies
(for UAE)

Hired: 2017
2018 fees: $720,000

NEW Informational materials

United Arab Emirates lobbyist Hagir Elawad sought meetings with Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr, R-N.C., and ranking Democrat Mark Warner, D-Va., for UAE Director of Intelligence Ali al-Shamsi during his visit to Washington in December. Shamsi hoped to discuss “key issues of regional interest as well as matters related to the Horn of Africa that are also of mutual US-UAE interest.” An aide confirmed that Warner met with al-Shamsi. Elawad joined Akin Gump earlier this month.

Federal Advocates
(for Opus Capital Asset Limited FZE)

Hired: Sept. 2019

NEW Q4 domestic lobbying filing

Dubai-based national security firm Opus Capital Asset Limited FZE paid Federal Advocates less than $5,000 to lobby the White House on “oil and gas logistics services” and provide “educational background” to the Trump administration in the fourth quarter - down from $60,000 in the third quarter. Federal Advocates boss Michael Esposito is no longer listed as an agent on the account after the FBI opened an investigation and raided his office following a Washington Post report that he traded off dubious ties to President Trump. Esposito’s firm initially registered to lobby for Opus in September regarding “geopolitical issues in Africa.”

Williams and Jensen
(for American Business Group of Abu Dhabi)

Hired: 2015
2018 fees: $60,000

NEW Q4 domestic lobbying filing

Williams and Jensen disclosed less than $5,000 in revenue lobbying Congress and the State Department on trade, tax and investment issues for the American Business Group of Abu Dhabi (aka Amcham Abu Dhabi).

GrayRobinson
(for Etihad Airways)

Hired: 2015
2018 fees: $0

NEW Q4 domestic lobbying filing

Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways paid Florida law firm GrayRobinson PA less than $5,000 to lobby Congress on “commercial aviation regulatory and policy issues.”

Etihad Airways
(in-house)

Hired: 2014
2018 fees: $160,000

NEW Q4 domestic lobbying filing

Fees: $40,000

Abu Dhabi-based airline Etihad spent $40,000 on in-house lobbying to defend the Open Skies agreement between the United States and the United Arab Emirates amid accusations by US domestic carriers that it receives unfair government subsidies. The airline lobbied Congress, the White House, the Office of the US Trade Representative, the International Trade Administration, the Federal Aviation Administration, the Transportation Security Administration, US Customs & Border Protection, and the departments of State, Homeland Security, Commerce and Transportation.

Camstoll Group
(for Outlook Energy Investments)

Hired: 2012
2018 fees: $7 million

NEW Registered agent
Fiona Renezeder

Analyst Fiona Renezeder has joined Camstoll Group’s account for Abu Dhabi-based Outlook Energy Investments to provide “research on issues pertaining to illicit financial activity.” The Camstoll account is the UAE’s biggest lobbying expenditure, accounting for $7 million of the $18.2 million the UAE spent in 2018. It largely focuses on raising concerns about the financial activities of Gulf rival Qatar.

Sanitas International
(for Expo2020 Dubai)

Hired: April 2019

NEW Supplemental
(April 1, 2019 – Sept. 30, 2019)
Fees and expenses: $657,000

Expo2020 Dubai paid Sanitas International $657,000 in fees and expenses in the six-month period ending Sept. 30. The firm reported no outreach to “media, government officials or other stakeholders” for the expo during that time.

Dickens & Madson
(for DP World)

Hired: Dec. 2019

NEW Contract

Dubai ports giant DP World has hired a former Israeli intelligence official to lobby the US government for support in its bid to operate Sudan’s largest port terminal.
 
The firm signed a $5 million contract — of which $1.5 million was paid up front — with Ari Ben-Menashe and his Montreal-based Dickens & Madson firm in November to lobby Sudan for a 20-year concession with the South Port Container Terminal in Port Sudan, according to newly disclosed lobbying filings. The contract also calls on Dickens & Madson to lobby the Donald Trump administration for a grant to help “maintain and develop” the port, which handles most Sudanese imports. Read more here.

Glover Park Group
(for UAE mission to UN)

Hired: Nov. 2019 (contract began in Sept. 2019)

NEW Contract

The UAE’s mission to the United Nations has brought on its second former Samantha Power aide as the country faces pressure over alleged human rights abuses in Libya and Yemen.
 
Max Gleischman, a former director of communications for President Barack Obama’s UN ambassador, is listed as the account lead on a newly disclosed $400,000 contract with the Glover Park Group. Gleischman is a senior vice president at Breakwater Strategy, which was founded by Glover Park co-founder Arik Ben-Zvi. The other registered agents on the account — Victoria Esser, a former deputy assistant secretary of state for digital strategy under Obama, Joshua Gross and Brett O'Brien — all work directly for Glover Park. Read more here.

Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld
(for UAE)

Hired: 2007
2018 fees: $3.6 million

NEW Story

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has asked its Washington lobbyists to correct the record after Akin Gump sent what it insists was an inaccurate email to Senate staffers stating UAE “support for sanctions measures” following Ankara’s incursion into northeast Syria. Read more here.

    Michael Korens
    Former counsel to US Senate Aviation Subcommittee
    • 2018 fees: $40,000
    Williams and Jensen
    • Hired: 2015  
    • Latest Filing  
    • Registered agents

      • Christopher Hatcher
      • Susan Hirschmann
      • Matthew Hoekstra
      • Karina Lynch
      • Melinda Maxfield
      • Erin Mullen
      • Laura Simmons
      • David Starr
      • Eric Stewart
    • 2018 fees: $60,000
    Federal Advocates
    • Hired: 2019  
    • Latest Filing  
    • Registered agents

      • Jennifer Arangio
        Former National Security Council senior director for International Organizations and Alliances
      • Michael Esposito
        Founder
      • Kevin Talley

UAE seeks to shield itself from Gulf blowback

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

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) spent more than $18 million last year to try to tar one Gulf neighbor and dodge the blowback against another.

Already one of the biggest spenders in the Washington influence game before its diplomatic break with Qatar in June 2017, the UAE has almost doubled its lobbying and public relations budget since then in an effort to paint Doha as an untrustworthy US ally. In recent months that effort has largely focused on trying to force Al Jazeera to register as a foreign agent of Qatar in a bid to curtail the rebellious network’s reach.

But the UAE has also had to defend its own policies as Abu Dhabi under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan plays an increasingly assertive role in the region.

That campaign has run into unforeseen complications over the past year as the UAE’s main ally, Saudi Arabia, fell out of favor in Washington following the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Bipartisan outrage over the killing soon translated into congressional pressure to end US refueling support and arms sales to the Saudi and Emirati alliance against the Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen, although President Donald Trump used his veto to keep US arms sales flowing.

The UAE still has concerns, however. A month-old lobbying filing by UAE lobbyist American Defense International reveals a list of amendments the country wants dropped from the pending annual defense bill, including a congressional demand for a detailed description of the military involvement by the UAE and other countries in the conflict in Libya, restrictions on US support for the UAE and Saudi Arabia’s intervention in Yemen, and a request for a study on how the United States monitors exports of surveillance-related capabilities and their potential for abuse by foreign governments.

The emirates are also facing backlash for their support for southern secessionists in Yemen, who have their own lobbying presence here in Washington. Previously a key ally against the Houthis, the UAE is now facing accusations from the Yemeni government — disseminated by its embassy in Washington — of having bombed government forces. The increasingly messy situation and resulting civilian casualties have only strengthened US calls for an end to the four-year war, with the Wall Street Journal reporting late last month that the Trump administration now wants to open direct talks with the Houthis.

With its role on the international stage coming under scrutiny, the UAE is intent on showcasing its domestic reforms and achievements. In a region wracked by religious intolerance, the emirates scored a PR coup when it hosted Pope Francis in February for the first ever visit by a pontiff to the Arabian Peninsula.

Meanwhile, the UAE’s influence operations in Washington have continued to grow. Ambassador to the US Yousef al-Otaiba hired TRG Advisory Services in September 2018 for $50,000 per month to help develop US programs “with a particular focus on programs associated with science, technology, cultural diplomacy, education, tolerance, values, women's empowerment and related areas.” And this July, the embassy retained the Glover Park Group for $80,000 to conduct in-person focus groups and nationwide online community discussions regarding unspecified “public attitudes” through September.

HIGHLIGHTS

Main lobbying firm:
Camstoll Group

 

 

$18.2 million

Total lobbying and PR spending for 2018

 

 

WINS
  • White House prevents congressional arms sales restrictions
  • US steps up pressure campaign on Iran
  • UAE hailed for religious tolerance
LOSSES
  • UN accuses UAE of key role in Libya violence
  • Congress revolts against Yemen war
  • Campaign against Al Jazeera 

  • Trip: April 12, 2019 to April 19, 2019
    5 staffers; $20,000
  • Trip: Oct. 13, 2018 to Oct. 19, 2018
    7 staffers; $19,000
image-from-the-document-manager

UAE lobbies for sanctions against Turkey

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: December 12, 2019

The United Arab Emirates is pressing Congress for sanctions against Turkey, lobbying filings reviewed by Al-Monitor reveal. Charles Johnson, a partner with UAE lobby shop Akin Gump, emailed what appear to be two Senate staffers Nov. 7 to encourage Congress to punish Ankara over its incursion against Kurdish militants in northeastern Syria. The email was sent a week after the House passed Turkey sanctions legislation from Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel, D-N.Y. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed its own sanctions bill Wednesday.

“I am reaching out on behalf of our client, the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates, to underscore the UAE's condemnation of Turkish aggression in Syria and support for sanctions measures against Turkey such as the House-passed ‘Protect Against Conflict by Turkey Act’ (H.R. 4695),” Johnson wrote. “I hope this information is helpful as you continue to monitor developments in Syria, and as the Senate considers potential sanctions measures.”

The email calls the Syrian incursion a “direct threat to stability and peace in the region” and goes on to point out that UAE archrival Qatar was one of the few countries in the region not to condemn the move. Johnson also says that Qatar has doubled down on its support for Turkey despite congressional criticism, describing Doha’s $15 billion investment pledge to Ankara in 2018 as being “intended to undermine newly-initiated US sanctions.”

Akin Gump in previous filings had disclosed lobbying for sanctions “against Iran and other countries,” but not Turkey specifically. The UAE’s influence campaign against Qatar, by contrast, is well documented. Akin Gump has represented the UAE embassy in Washington since 2007, which paid it $3.6 million last year.

The recipients of the email are identified only as “Andrew & Matt.” The Senate Foreign Relations Committee's Democratic counsel is named Andrew Keeler and his Republican counterpart is Matthew Sullivan, but Al-Monitor was unable to confirm that's who the email was sent to. Johnson did not respond to a request for comment. The email released by the Foreign Agents Registration Act unit at the Department of Justice was forwarded to Melissa Laurenza, a partner at Akin Gump who focuses on campaign law and lobbying registration.