Foreign Lobby WatchTool

America First Policies, nonprofit arm of America First Action, founded by Trump Campaign 2020 manager Brad Parscale and VP Pence Chief of Staff Nick Ayers.  December 17, 2018, Full-page Border Wall ad in the Washington Post signed by “Sheriff” David Clarke first

American Conservative Union, the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC): oldest US lobbying organization which William F. Buckley Jr. helped found; Matt Schlapp, Wichita, KS,Fox News contributor. Matt and wife Mercedes founded Cove Strategies in 2009 with KOCH as its first client. Mercedes Schlapp has been an NRA board member and strategic consultant.(2015: $60k, 2016: $45k @ ) 1 hr./wk.) Matt Schlapp was Deputy Assistant to Pres. George W. Bush, 1st term while Mercedes was Director of Strategic Communications/Specialty Media. Joined Koch Companies as VP of Federal Affairs, National Association of Manufacturers Board, U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Archive.  ‘In September 2018, Schlapp tweeted a photo of three Democratic Senators, all of whom were people of color, and wrote, “Look at this photo conservative voters in WV, ND, IN, FL, MO, MT, MI, TN, AZ, NV.”[7] Critics, including conservative Bill Kristol and Tom Nichols, accused Schlapp of racial dog-whistling, which Schlapp denied.[7]Wikipedia

Meet the Schlapps, Washington’s Trump-Era ‘It CoupleMatt and Mercedes Schlapp at home in Alexandria, Va. To some Republicans, the Schlapps are a conservative “it couple.” To others, they’re opportunists. NYTimes by Elizabeth Williamson April 30, 2018. “Mr. Trump appeared at CPAC as president in 2017 and in February was again the star of the three-day conference, attended by about 10,000 people and underwritten by a multitude of sponsors and exhibitors, some of them former Cove Strategies clients. While Mr. Schlapp said not all participants are pro-Trump, prominent “Never Trump” conservatives like John Kasich, George Will and Bill Kristol were not invited to speak. But as Mr. Trump closed in on the presidency, the Schlapps drew closer to Mr. Trump, who despite his no-show at CPAC had contributed tens of thousands of dollars to the group in earlier years. By the end of the campaign, the Schlapps were making some 30 press appearances a week for Mr. Trump. There was one setback: Ms. Schlapp seeing her husband defend Mr. Trump on Fox News after an “Access Hollywood” tape surfaced of the candidate boasting of grabbing women’s genitals. Mr. Schlapp did condemn Mr. Trump for “inexcusable talk” and evoked his wife, “who has been in situations where it was hard for her to be an attractive woman in the workplace.” “

h/t @ninaandtito Lobbying Arrangements Results for ‘Cove Strategies’ @ninaandtitoPro Public.  No FARA records h/t

“Bill Smith, Vice President-elect Mike Pence‘s former chief of staff in Congress and the governor’s office, recently started lobbying at the federal level through his friend Terry Allen‘s firm, Fidelis Government Relations. David Schwartz, a New York lawyer whose Gotham Government Relations & Communications has worked with Trump in the past, also announced plans to open a Washington office.”  Politico

Manafort’s guilty plea exposes hardball tactics he used to thrive in Washington swamp Washington Post By Rosalind S. Helderman Tom Hamburger Matt Zapotosky September 14, 2018  “The prosecution of Manafort by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III has drawn in players from across the political spectrum, including pillars of the Washington lobbying and legal community like Mercury Public Affairs; the Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom law firm; and the now-defunct Podesta Group, helmed by Democratic lobbyist Tony Podesta.”

NRA leader, Jack Abramoff and GOP operative tied to alleged Russian spy Maria Butina have long history as foreign agents lobbying together Open Secrets By

December 10, 2018 “Keene’s history as a foreign agent

Amidst all of the buzz surrounding his ties to alleged Russian agent Maria Butina, NRA board member and former NRA president David Keene took a different approach, registering as a foreign agent representing the interests of the government of Algeria. Unlike Butina and Erickson, who are alleged to be Russian agents under Section 951, Keene has now registered as a foreign agent under FARA. This is hardly the first time Keene has had a hand in foreign influence operations.

Keene kicked off his first registered foreign lobbying and influence shop, Keene, Shirley & Associates, in 1987 by inking a $60,000-per-year contract with the National Farmers’ Federation of Australia before signing on to represent Nicaraguan interests the following year. The firm’s board of directorsincluded Keene’s wife, Diana, and another political consultant named Craigan Shirley. Perhaps most well-known is Keene’s lobbying for Nigeria and Algeria — which was disclosed under the Lobbying Disclosure Act. Keene went on to lobby for a broad array of interests, including the World Wrestling Federation.

Now David Keene has again registered as a foreign agent, according to FARA filings made available through CRP’s Foreign Lobby Watch tool.Outlining the terms of their $360,000 lobbying agreement, Algeria’s government issued a cheeky press release titled “Algeria is Keen on NRA Alum Keene.” One chapter of Keene’s lobbying history has made even fewer headlines: The time he, Paul Erickson and Jack Abramoff were lobbying for a widely recognized dictator’s entry into the United States.

Erickson and Abramoff had been longtime friends whose professional lives often intertwined. After college Republicans, Erickson and Abramoff went on to do more than just develop the anti-Communist Dolph Lundgren flick Red Scorpion together. In 1995, Erickson obtained a $30,000 contract for a six-week stint lobbying for entrance into the United States on behalf of Mobutu Sese Seko, the president of the Republic of Congo during the Rwandan genocide who was widely referenced as a military dictator. Mobutu had been banned from the entering the United States after he developed political ties while working as a journalist then formed an authoritarian regime. He was notorious for corruption, nepotism, and embezzlement between $4 and $15 billion during his reign as well as widespread human rights violations.

As Abramoff noted in the FARA disclosures, he was “under no illusion we are dealing with Thomas Jefferson.” The official foreign principal who hired Erickson’s firm was Andre Soussan, a “Danish citizen residing in Paris who is a close political advisor to President Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire,” according to the FARA disclosures obtained by CRP. Soussan reportedly “acted as an intermediary for President Mobutu’s quest for a U.S. visa,” which entailed rallying together members of Congress to write letters of support and “employment of Mr. Keene to assist in Andrew Soussan’s visa quest.” But the FARA disclosures discovered through Foreign Lobby Watch’s full-text search feature show Soussan played little role in the operation.

In the FARA disclosure, Abramoff argued that negotiations in the United States, “where Mobutu has few or no friends — would be less susceptible to manipulation.” U.S. officials did not agree, reportedly pushing back that Mobutu merely wanted to sanitize his image by appearing to support democratic reforms so he could stage controlled elections and further consolidate his power. The State Department ultimately rejected Mobutu’s entrance into the United States. He stayed in power until he was expelled in 1997. Abramoff has again been implicated in Erickson’s schemes related to Butina, though the full extent and scope of Abramoff’s role is unclear.

Anti-fraud investigators at Wells Fargo bank, acting on a tip from federal investigators, flagged potentially suspicious bank transfers from an account held jointly by Butina and Erickson to what appeared to be a shell company tied to Abramoff’s family. Erickson sent wire transfers for $15,000 to a California company incorporated in March 2017 out of the home of Abramoff’s son who is listed as its CEO and sole director while Abramoff’s brother is the registered agent.”

Richard BurtALFA Bank, Managing Dir. of McLarty Associates partner with Henry Kissinger, wrote Trump’s speech at Mayflower Hotel, Nord Stream II Pipeline

BGR Group

Inside the other Georgian lobbying effort in Washington Foreign Policy There’s been plenty of reporting about the Georgian government’s extensive lobbying effort in Washington, but little is known about the new and expansive lobbying effort now in place on behalf of a Georgian billionaire and a leading opposition lawmaker, who are confronting Georgia’s president on the world stage. Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili is in Washington BY |

“Ed Rogers is a a political consultant and a veteran of the White House and several national campaigns. He is the chairman of the lobbying and communications firm BGR Group, which he founded with former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour in 1991.” What is so significant about Sam Nunberg? ” Bidzina Ivanishvili, a billionaire tycoon of Georgian descent who is working closely with Irakli Alasania, the leader of Georgia’s Free Democrats Party and the president’s main political rival. Ivanishvili is currently paying the lobbying firm BGR Group $25,000 per month, according to disclosure filings, in a contract signed last November. He is also paying another $20,000 per month to Sam Patten, a Tbilisi-based consultant who is working with BGR on behalf of Ivanishvili, the disclosure records show. That money is paid through a London-based entity called BGR-Garbara, LTD, which the records state is working on behalf of Ivanishvili. BGR-Garbara, LTD, also pays Patten $10,000 per month to work on behalf of Alasania, according to disclosure filings, to “advise U.S. officials” on political developments in Georgia, and for “arranging meetings with U.S. officials on behalf of the foreign principal [Alasania].” Another contract filing shows that BGR-Garbara, LTD, also pays BGR an undisclosed sum to work on behalf of Alasania and the Free Democrats. The filing defines BGR-Garbara, LTD, as “a pan-European government affairs and public relations firm engaged by ‘Free Democrats’… for the purposes of promoting a stronger Georgian democracy through fair, open, and honest elections in 2012.” Former U.S. Ambassador to NATO Kurt Volker is also working on the contract for BGR, according to lobbying e-mails sent out by BGR to journalists and non-governmental organizations. We’re told by two sources that Alasania and Ivanishvili have also recently signed a contract with Patton Boggs, a powerful D.C. lobbying law firm, although no disclosure forms have yet been submitted. Both sources also confirmed that Ivanishvili’s representatives made a pass at the Podesta Group, offering to double their fee to switch teams, but Podesta declined. Ivanishvili is also working with Sam Amsterdam, the son of Robert Amsterdam, the Canadian lawyer made famous by his defense of imprisoned Russian oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky. There’s no disclosure filing for that relationship because Sam Amsterdam is not a U.S. citizen and is not lobbying U.S. officials. Ivanishvili has made statements criticizing Khordorkovsky in the past. Robert Amsterdam is not working with Ivanishvili or his son on the project. Ivanishvili’s critics paint him as a Russia-funded oligarch whose agenda is anti-Western and therefore anti-American. They point to his seemingly soft stance on Russia, such as when he said of once and future President Vladimir Putin, “the Russian people like this man,” and that Russia “is not the worst example of an undemocratic state.” He has also blamed Saakashvili for the outbreak of war with Russia in 2008. Ivanishvili’s ties to Russia are not only political, but economic. He made his fortune in Russia in the 1990s, and still maintains at least a 1 percent stake in Gazprom, the semi-state controlled energy behemoth. (The Russian Federation and Gazprom are represented in Washington by Ketchum).”

Ketchum Public Relations-Russian Federation and Gazprom

1996 became a subsidiary of Omnicom Group

Cellphone Industry: ” In 1993 a series of reports and books on the potential for the new analog cellular mobile phones to produce brain cancer and the proliferation of ugly base-station transmission towers in suburban settings, created a health scare in many cities in the developed world.

The Cellular Telephone Industry Association (CTIA) initially reacted to this threat to their business by offering $1 million for research, and demanding that the US Federal Government appoint a ‘blue-ribbon panel’ of scientists to oversee research to prove that cellphones were safe. This trivial reaction to what was perceived as a real threat, caused a storm in Congress.

Carlo set up for the cellphone industry, the Wireless Technology Research as a limited liability company, totally controlled by himself and his wife. Over the next few years it spent $27.8 million of the CTIA’s money on research guaranteed not to find anything of health significance.

In 2003, the U.S. Department of Education signed a $700,000 contract with Ketchum to do “rankings of newspaper coverage of the No Child Left Behind law” and to produce a video news release (VNR) touting the law, which featured Education Secretary Rod Paige and promoted a tutoring program offered under the new law. The VNR, narrated by faux reporter Karen Ryan (actually a PR pro), generated controversy since it “comes across as a news story but fails to make clear the reporter involved was paid with taxpayer money.” A similar VNR promoting the Bush Medicare law was found by the Government Accountability Office to be covert propaganda in violation of federal law. [3]

Download Ketchum’s contract with the U.S. Department of Education, to promote the No Child Left Behind Act (1.6 MB PDF file).

Download Ketchum’s request for increased funding for their “Minority Outreach Campaign,” featuring Armstrong Williams (132 kb PDF file).

Documents obtained on Ketchum contracts with the U.S. Department of Education through a FOIA request from the People for the American Way are available for download here.

In May 2005, a PR Week story on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services request for proposals on its outreach work over the next five years reported that, “Under the last umbrella contract … Ketchum led a $25 million integrated marketing campaign to drive people to the Medicare (800) number and website.” [6]

Despite the controversy over the Armstrong Williams contract, Ketchum won a a $25 million contract, including $2 million in fees, to manage the advertising campaign as part of a $300 million, three-year U.S. government effort encouraging seniors to sign up for the new Medicare prescription drug program.

Ketchum “produced a controversial series of prepackaged news stories,” or video news releases (VNRs), for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). VNRs that Ketchum produced for the Department of Education were also recently found to be ‘covert propaganda.'” Sourcewatch

Vernon K. Krieble Foundation on Sourcewatch   

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher presented Robert Krieblean award on behalf of the Frank Gaffney Center for Security Policy (Islamophobia)for his efforts in Russia Stern Facts

Koch (DonorsTrust, Americans for Prosperity, Taxpayer’s Alliance Tea Party), ALEC, State Policy Network(Council for National Policy), Heritage Foundation.  Anti-immigration “Red Card” solution