With David Beavers and Daniel Lippman
FARA FRIDAY: Here are a couple of notable recent Foreign Agents Registration Act filings, as part of our occasionally Friday roundup. Booz Allen Hamilton has registered retroactively with the Justice Department for work the firm did for Saudi Arabia’s government in 2017 and 2018. It’s the first time the consulting firm has registered under FARA. The registration is notable because Booz Allen’s contract with the kingdom specifies that the firm “will not substantively perform activities that would require Booz Allen to register as an agent of Client under the Foreign Agent Registration Act.”
— Booz Allen agreed in the 2017 contract, filed with the Justice Department last week, to consult on a variety of matters for Saudi Arabia’s embassy in Washington. They included advising Prince Khalid bin Salman, the Saudi ambassador to the U.S. at the time, and other embassy personnel on “the Embassy’s role in the U.S. Foreign Military Sales and Direct Commercial Sales” and helping with “key events in the US that promote the KSA / US relationship and support the Embassy in pushing forward the KSA / US collaboration.” Booz Allen was paid more than $3 million for the work.
— Asked why the firm registered more than two years later for the work, Jessica Klenk, a Booz Allen spokesperson, wrote in an email that “Booz Allen has determined that work performed for the Kingdom Of Saudi Arabia beginning in 2017 and ending in January 2018 may have been subject to filing requirements under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, and we therefore have made such a filing.”
— Former Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), meanwhile, a former chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee who’s now a lobbyist at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, sent a report to the Justice Department’s FARA unit this week making the case that Al Jazeera should register as a foreign agent. Al Jazeera has a massive reach in the United States, with millions of readers, viewers, and followers, and billions of ‘hits’ on social media, dwarfing the U.S. impact of state-media outlets owned and controlled by China, Russia, and Turkey,” she writes. “But the American public does not know that Al Jazeera is owned by the Emir of Qatar and is a foreign policy tool of the Government of Qatar.”
— Ros-Lehtinen, as she notes in the report, wrote it in her capacity as a lobbyist for the United Arab Emirates, which along with Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries has been locked in a feud with Qatar since 2017. She goes out of her way to praise the Emirates in the report, writing that while she was in Congress she and her colleagues (needs space) “found common cause with the UAE on almost every international crisis and problem that our nation sought to address, especially in the fight against terrorism and extremism.” The report was first spotlighted by The Washington Free Beacon.
NEW BUSINESS: Lyft has hired Marcus Mason of the Madison Group to lobby on “policy matters impacting independent workers, consumers, and businesses,” according to a disclosure filing. The company hired Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld to lobby on similar issues in May. ViacomCBS has added Peck Madigan Jones to its stable of outside lobbying firms, which also includes Becker, Harbinger Strategies and the Glover Park Group, according to disclosure filings.
— And former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has signed another lobbying client through his firm, Christie 55 Solutions. He and his former chief of staff, Rich Bagger, will lobby for the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, the island’s bankrupt public utility, which is the process of being partially privatized.
COX SAYS HE’S LEAVING THE WHITE HOUSE: “Chris Cox, President Donald Trump‘s top liaison to the House of Representatives, has told associates he is leaving the White House, 15 hours after POLITICO raised questions about his alleged contacts with a former lobbying client while in government,” POLITICO’s Jake Sherman reports. “On multiple occasions, Cox suggested while working in the White House that he was collecting intelligence or doing work after speaking to representatives and lobbyists from corporate interests, multiple sources said.”
— POLITICO asked the White House more questions on Thursday afternoon “about whether and how Cox was involved in a matter last month involving a former lobbying client that was pushing for help in the Trump administration; the White House declined comment.” Cox was a lobbyist at Navigators Global before joining the White House in March as deputy assistant to the president for legislative affairs.
SUPREME COURT DECISION COULD HAVE RAMIFICATIONS FOR THOSE UNDER CONGRESSIONAL INVESTIGATION: The Supreme Court’s ruling on Thursday in Trump v. Mazars USA LLP, in which the court kicked the question of whether Congress could subpoena Trump’s tax returns back to a lower court, “could have significant implications for private parties responding to requests from congressional investigators,” Robert Kelner and Perrin Cooke of Covington & Burling write in a blog post.
— Congressional investigations are a lucrative line of business for Covington and other Washington law firms with practices devoted to advising companies that find themselves under investigation. Congress can “rely on the implied or stated threat of a subpoena for privileged material as leverage to obtain sought-after non-privileged documents or testimony,” Kelner and Cooke write. “In Mazars, however, the Supreme Court may have dramatically weakened that leverage and tilted the scale in favor of parties resisting congressional demands for privileged material.” The ruling “will surely prove helpful to parties fighting efforts by congressional investigators to compel disclosure of privileged material.”
HOW THE CATHOLIC CHURCH TAPPED THE PAYCHECK PROTECTION PROGRAM: “The U.S. Roman Catholic Church used a special and unprecedented exemption from federal rules to amass at least $1.4 billion in taxpayer-backed coronavirus aid, with many millions going to dioceses that have paid huge settlements or sought bankruptcy protection because of clergy sexual abuse cover-ups,” The Associated Press’ Reese Dunklin and Michael Rezendes report. “The church’s haul may have reached — or even exceeded — $3.5 billion, making a global religious institution with more than a billion followers among the biggest winners in the U.S. government’s pandemic relief efforts, an Associated Press analysis of federal data released this week found.”
— “Houses of worship and faith-based organizations that promote religious beliefs aren’t usually eligible for money from the U.S. Small Business Administration.” But religious groups succeeded in persuading “the Trump administration to free them from a rule that typically disqualifies an applicant with more than 500 workers. Without this preferential treatment, many Catholic dioceses would have been ineligible because — between their head offices, parishes and other affiliates — their employees exceed the 500-person cap.”
IF YOU MISSED IT ON THURSDAY: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis “has directed his top fund-raiser, Heather Barker, to tell donors not to give to the [Republican National Convention in Jacksonville] because of a personal dispute between the governor and Susie Wiles, his former campaign manager who is serving as an informal adviser to the convention planners, according to multiple people familiar with his actions,” The New York Times‘ Annie Karni and Patricia Mazzei report. Barker “has been explicit with donors in Florida that the governor will not be helpful with rounding up money for the convention because of the involvement of Ms. Wiles, according to the people familiar with the conversations.” Wiles helped Trump win Florida in 2016 and ran DeSantis’ 2018 campaign, but DeSantis broke with her last year as part of a broader Florida political feud.
Cruz 20 for 20 Victory Fund (Sen. Ted Cruz, Reps. Ann Wagner and Chip Roy, Alek for Oregon, Amanda Adkins for Congress, Americans for Parnell Committee, August Pfluger for Congress, Burgess 4 Utah, Cawthorn for NC, Fallon for Congress, Feenstra for Congress, Friends of McCormick, Friends of Nick Freitas Inc, Good for Congress, Hightower for Alabama, Hunt for Congress, Jeanne for Congress, Lauren Boebert for Congress, Leo Valentin for Congress, Marchant for Congress, Mary Miller for Congress, Matt Rosendale for Montana, Raul for Congress, Rodimer for Congress, Shane Hernandez for Congress, Yvette4Congress, Jobs, Freedom and Security PAC)
Rita Hart Victory Fund (Rita Hart for Iowa, Iowa Democratic Party)
Amarillo Matters PAC (Super PAC)
Black Equity PAC (Hybrid PAC)
California Credit Union Employees Federal PAC (PAC)
Committee to Elect Kanye West (Super PAC)
Defend the Constitution Political Action Committee (PAC)
Progressive Change Coalition (PAC)
Rural Catholics for Biden (Super PAC)
Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld: Meta Aerospace
Alexander, Borovicka & O’Shea Government Solutions (fka Alexander & Borovicka Go: Uptake
Crossroads Strategies, LLC: Douglas County Public Utility District
Cruise LLC: Cruise LLC
Cypress Advocacy, LLC: B. Riley Financial, Inc.
Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, LLP: Victims of Terrorism – Sudan and East Africa
Holland & Knight LLP: Kirlin Builders LLC
Miller & Chevalier, Chtd: Semiconductor Industry Association
Mr. Thomas Kahn: Cormac Group on behalf of Bell Legal Group
Olsson, Frank, Weeda, Terman & Matz, PC: GA Food Service, Inc.
Parry, Romani, Deconcini & Symms: APCO Worldwide
Peck Madigan Jones: Viacom, Inc.
Strategic Health Care: RemoteMD
The Madison Group: Lyft, Inc.
The Picard Group, LLC: Allegiance Health Management, Inc.
Thorn Run Partners: Fisher Island Community Association
Breaux Lott Leadership Group: Sanderson Farms, Inc.
Crossroads Strategies, LLC: Allstate Insurance Company
Crossroads Strategies, LLC: Northrop Grumman Corporation
Sprint Corporation: Sprint Corporation
Squire Patton Boggs: LHC Group
The Ingram Group LLC: CoreCivic
The Livingston Group, L.L.C.: 50 Cities Inc
The Livingston Group, L.L.C.: Greater America LLC (on behalf of Engense, Inc./dba DFNDR Armor)
The Raben Group: EarthRights International