From: Berhane Habtemariam (Berhane.Habtemariam@gmx.de)
Date: Sun Aug 23 2009 - 07:09:06 EDT
Adding it up: The Top Players in Foreign Agent Lobbying
By Anupama Narayanswamy and Luke Rosiak, Sunlight Foundation and
<http://www.propublica.org/site/author/jennifer_lafleur/> Jennifer LaFleur,
August 23, 2009 1:34 pm EDT
It isn't just U.S. companies or groups that push for their causes on Capitol
Hill. Thousands of times each year, lobbyists for foreign governments and
other overseas organizations reach out to members of Congress and other U.S.
leaders to make their case on issues important to them.
But counting up those thousands of contacts hasn't been easy. Records
detailing what foreign entities are lobbying, who they're contacting and why
are filed on paper forms, sometimes in handwriting that's little more than a
scrawl. After prodding from open-government groups, the Department of
Justice put scanned copies of the forms on its Web site in 2007, but in a
fashion that's barely an advance over the old-fashioned card catalog.
Now, the Sunlight Foundation and ProPublica have taken more than a year's
worth of data filed under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, or FARA, and
put it in a digital format that can be easily searched and analyzed to
discover all the players in the foreign lobbying game.
Under FARA, all lobbyists who represent foreign governments, political
parties and government-controlled entities in a "political or
quasi-political capacity" must file disclosures. The forms list activities,
fees received, political contacts and any campaign contributions.
Data for this project is based on filings in calendar 2008. The reports
cover lobbying activity that year and in late 2007, and provide an extensive
look into how foreign countries advanced their interests in Washington,
D.C., during the period.
Among the overall findings:
* Lobbyists for various foreign agents, including a handful of
for-profit corporations, disclosed receiving $87 million in fees during the
* Lobbyists contacted congressional offices more than 10,700 times,
including 2,280 meetings, nearly 2,600 phone conversations and more than
4,000 e-mails, with the balance of contacts in letters and faxes.
* Countries that engaged in the most intensive lobbying campaigns
include long-term allies like Turkey and recent adversaries like Libya.
Wealthy countries like the oil-rich United Arab Emirates are players, but so
are poor nations like Ethiopia, with a per capita GDP of just $800.
What follows is a look at the countries and lobbyists that have been most
active, what some of them wanted, whom they contacted and how much they
spent pursuing their goals.
Where the big spenders are
Interests in the United Arab Emirates, primarily Dubai, spent the most money
on lobbying and public relations campaigns. (Iraq's spending also includes
the Kurdistan Regional Government.)
United Arab Emirates
United Arab Emirates
United Arab Emirates
Until it was branded a threat to national security and a federation with "a
dubious record on terrorism," the United Arab Emirates spent modest amounts
on foreign lobbying, while Dubai, one of its semi-autonomous emirates, spent
Dubai's troubles began in February 2006, when Dubai Port World, a
government-owned marine terminal management company, acquired a company with
contracts to perform stevedoring operations around the world, including at a
handful of U.S. ports. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., charged that the deal
would compromise U.S. port security and labeled the U.A.E. a "country that
has been linked to terrorism." Other members of Congress soon echoed the
charges. Dubai Port World and the government of Dubai hired lobbyists and
public relations firms to blunt the charges, but it was too late: Dubai Port
World sold the U.S. port business to another company.
The emirate had learned its lesson. By March 2007, when another
government-owned firm, Dubai Aerospace Enterprises, acquired a pair of
aviation companies with operations at U.S. airports, Dubai already had in
place a sophisticated lobbying operation that contacted some of the harshest
critics of the ports deal to gain their support. Dubai's government relied
on three firms to burnish its image:
Piper  focused on pushing political interests, the Mark Saylor Company
focused on crisis communications and Levick Strategic Communications handled
press outreach and public relations campaigns.
According to 2008 FARA filings, the Dubai government paid more than $4.6
million in fees to the three firms. Dubai Aerospace completed its
acquisition in July 2007 without protest from Congress.
The country's public relations campaign continued in 2008. Lobbyists
promoted such initiatives as "Dubai Cares," to help educate children in
developing countries. They fielded questions about the ruling family's
alleged abuse of jockeys in camel racing, and about Dubai's sovereign wealth
funds. The firms' lobbyists met with dozens of congressional staffers. They
pitched U.S. media on stories such as economic development, Dubai's transit
system and a "Star Wars" theme park.
The government of Japan has focused largely on trade through organizations
like the <http://www.jetro.org/> Japanese External Trade Organization 
(JETRO) and the <http://www.mipro.or.jp/english/> Manufactured Imports and
Investment Promotion Organization  (MIPRO). The country also employs
009> Hogan & Hartson  to lobby on a range of issues from blocking
congressional resolutions admonishing the conduct of the Imperial Army in
the Second World War to gaining a permanent seat for Japan on the United
Nations Security Council.
In 2008, lobbyists for Japan met with at least five members of Congress to
lobby on defense appropriations and to influence policy on the foreign sales
of a military aircraft, the F-22 Raptor. The Obama administration and
Congress ended U.S. funding for the F-22, but the House Armed Services
Committee directed the Obama administration to look into supplying the
fighter jets to Japan.
Pakistan made frequent use of lobbyists when it sought to convince
Democratic majorities in Congress to go along with the Bush administration's
plans for "Reconstruction Opportunity Zones," or preferential trade zones
that would be able to export commodities manufactured there duty-free to the
United States. Establishing the zones would spur economic development, would
decrease unrest in some of Pakistan's more lawless and underdeveloped
regions, particularly on its frontier with Afghanistan, proponents say. The
bill to authorize them died in committee in the last Congress, but has been
taken up again this year.
Pakistan's lobbyists also performed damage control over foreign aid - not
the first time the country has had to manage the feat. Assistance to
Pakistan was halted in 1998 after it conducted at least five nuclear tests,
and was not restored until the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States, when
the Bush administration sought allies in its struggle against al-Qaida.
Following a <http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d08806.pdf> June 2008 Government
Accountability Office  finding that the Pentagon couldn't track more than
$5.5 billion in military aid, Pakistan's FARA lobbyists made 104 contacts
with seven journalists concerning the GAO report and the "status of U.S.
aid." The Pakistani Embassy paid $514,000 in lobbyist fees.
* Note: Lobbyists for Paul Calder LeRoux, a dual citizen of South Africa and
Australia who lives in the Philippines, reported receiving $6,500,000 in
fees. The Justice Department classifies LeRoux as "international" rather
than assigning him to any individual country; as such, we have omitted him
from this chart. LeRoux hired the firm,Dickens & Madson,to "generate
policies favorable to [his] business interests," according to FARA filings,
principally his effort to lease farmland from the government of Zimbabwe.
The firm reported no contacts on LeRoux's behalf; according to FARA records,
Dickens & Madson stopped representing LaRoux in December 2008.
Most congressional contacts
Turkey's lobbying drive to block a resolution branding the 1915 slaughter of
Armenians as genocide resulted in the most contacts with members of
18> related story. )
United Arab Emirates
Republic of Congo
*-Contacts include in person meetings, phone calls, emails, letters and
Egypt, historically one of the largest recipients of U.S. foreign aid,
mounted a large lobbying effort, employing
Group  - a joint venture of two well-connected K Street firms, the
Podesta Group, headed by Democratic lobbyist Tony Podesta, and the
09> Livingston Group , founded by former Republican Rep. Robert
Livingston of Louisiana - to preserve that funding between October 2007 and
October 2008. The stakes are not small: Egypt has received more than $50
billion from the United States since 1975.
The United States agreed to large foreign aid payments to Egypt and Israel
in 1978 following the historic peace agreement negotiated by Anwar Sadat and
Menachem Begin. As the Arab nation's economy has eroded, excess American aid
has allowed it to put off much-needed changes rather than spur them, critics
Lobbyists for Egypt had at least 279 contacts on military issues, the bulk
of which occurred when PLM Group accompanied delegations of Egyptian
military officers to meet members of Congress, administration officials and
representatives from defense contractors - including BAE Systems, General
Dynamics, General Electric, Raytheon and Lockheed Martin. All five have done
business with the Egyptian government, selling tanks, fighter jets,
howitzers and radar arrays to its military. At the time of the meeting with
the contractors, Podesta Group counted BAE Systems, General Dynamics and
Lockheed Martin among its clients, while the Livingston Group represented
Two of the top three best-paid lobbying firms were also among the busiest
contacting government officials: DLA Piper and the Livingston Group.
DLA Piper US
Dickens & Madson Canada
Invest Northern Ireland
Cassidy & Associates
Netherlands Board of Tourism & Conventions
Barbour, Griffith & Rogers
Moroccan-American Center for Policy
Japan National Tourist Organization
Spotlight: DLA Piper
<http://www.dlapiper.com/> DLA Piper , a firm whose Web site says is
"positioned to help companies with their legal needs anywhere in the world,"
is well suited to helping them in Washington, with a roster of 39 former
government officials that includes former House Democratic leader Richard
Gephardt. Until his resignation last week, former House GOP leader Richard
Armey also worked with the firm. The firm represented some of the most
active foreign clients, including Ethiopia, the executive office of Dubai,
and the government of Turkey, for whom it promised, among other things, to
find "members of Congress who will speak in Turkey's favor on matters of
critical importance to Turkey." DLA Piper helped Borse Dubai, a United Arab
Emirates company that invests in stock exchanges, when a hefty investment by
the firm in the Nasdaq market required approval from the Committee on
Foreign Investment in the United States, an inter-agency committee that
reviews foreign investments in the United States that might affect national
security. The firm also lobbied to keep a sizable U.S. military presence in
the German state of
Rheinland-Pfalz  and tried to ease sanctions on
<http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/2846.htm> Ivory  Coast.
Members contacted most
Four of the top five members with the most contacts with the foreign
lobbyists served on either the Senate Foreign Relations Committee or House
Foreign Affairs Committee.
No. of contacts
Berman, Howard L.
Ortiz, Solomon P.
Spotlight: Rep. Robert Wexler
Rep. Robert Wexler (U.S. Congress)
Rep. Robert Wexler (U.S. Congress)
<http://wexler.house.gov/> Wexler, D-Fla ., was the most sought after;
he or members of his staff were contacted 173 times, according to the
filings. Azerbaijan, which hired the Livingston Group to lobby on its
behalf, was among Wexler's top petitioners. Both Lydia Borland and Robert
Livingston of the Livingston Group met with staffers working with Wexler,
who serves as co-chairman of the Azerbaijan Caucus. Wexler
<http://wexler.house.gov/pdfs/azerbaijantrade.pdf> introduced a bill  to
repeal earlier legislation that related to the country as a post-Soviet
state and led to normal trade relations with Azerbaijan. The strategically
important country, which has both Iran and Russia as neighbors, has spent
close to $2 million since late 2005 seeking better trade and investment
opportunities from the United States, according to FARA records.
Spotlight: Rep. Roy Blunt
Rep. Roy Blunt (U.S. Congress)
Rep. Roy Blunt (U.S. Congress)
<http://www.blunt.house.gov/> Blunt, R-Mo.,  the former Republican
House whip, and his staff were contacted at least 105 times by lobbyists of
various foreign governments and organizations. Blunt and his taff had
several meetings and phone conversations with lobbyists for both Peru and
Panama regarding their free trade agreements. A few days before the passage
of the U.S. Peru Free Trade Act, lobbyists for the country met with Blunt's
staffers regarding the bill. The trade pact passed with support from
Republicans in Congress; 116 Democrats voted against it. The Panamanian
Embassy used the Washington Group to intensively lobby Congress in October
and November 2008 to pass an agreement. Blunt and his staff were contacted
Top campaign contributors
Registered foreign agents reported $4.3 million in political contributions,
including nearly $2 million to congressional campaigns. There were at least
74 instances in which lobbyists reported campaign donations to individual
members they had contacted.
Robert L. Livingston
J. Allen Martin
Alfonse M. D'Amato
Spotlight: Who gave
Of the 74 donations FARA agents made to members they'd personally contacted,
34 came from lobbyists working for a single firm, the PLM Group. PLM was
formed in March 2007 as a joint venture of the Livingston Group and the
8> Podesta Group . In all, lobbyists with the PLM Group reported giving
nearly $63,000 to members of Congress. Three of the contributions made to
Reps. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., Dan Burton, R-Ind., and Donald M. Payne,
D-N.J., came on the same day they met with lobbyists.
Bob Dole, the former Senate majority leader and the 1996 Republican
presidential nominee, contributed the most among registered foreign agents -
$104,000. Dole, who lobbies for
008> Alston & Bird , wasn't nearly as active as Livingston, FARA records
show. Most of his activity, on behalf of the Taipei Economic and Cultural
Representative Office of Taiwan, was confined to writing letters to members,
either inviting them to Taiwan or thanking them for meeting with Taiwanese
officials. Dole attended a briefing on investment opportunities in
Montenegro, another Alston & Bird client.
Livingston contributed more than $99,000. Other PLM group lobbyists who have
given liberally include Paul Cambon, J. Allen Martin, Tony Podesta and
former Democratic Rep. Toby Moffett.
Spotlight: Who received
Overall, the presidential campaigns of John McCain and Hillary Clinton
topped the list, taking in $202,000 and $71,000 respectively. Among
congressional campaigns, successful Senate candidate Mark Warner, D-Va.,
received the most money from FARA registrants - more than $44,000. Sen.
Roger Wicker, R-Miss., was next with $38,000, followed by the House
Republican leader, John Boehner of Ohio, with $34,000
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