But it’s not without its pitfalls, Davis and other K Street consultants warned. Foreign governments are notorious for not paying their bills, and lobbyists must contend with the potentially destructive epitaph “foreign agent.”
“Some people have a real visceral reaction to that,” a downtown GOP source said. “From a perception issue, it depends on what countries you’re representing ... if you’re representing G-20 countries, it’s usually not a big deal.”
Tony Blankley, a public relations consultant who was also a spokesman for former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), said he refuses to work on behalf of foreign governments. But the former Washington Times editor, who was born in London, wrote in an e-mail that his opposition is for professional reasons, rather than ideological ones.
“Every person makes their own decisions — and I do not question them. I know many fine, patriotic and honorable people who represent foreign governments in different capacities,” he wrote. “For me, both for personal reasons and because as a writer and commentator who frequently comments on foreign policy (and wrote two books on the subject), I do not want to limit or undermine my commentary by having any professional or economic interest in the well being of any country other than the USA.”
Unlike when he represented Pakistan more than a decade ago, Davis said his legal and consulting clients pay him regular retainers rather than hourly rates these days. He also said that he’s attempting to avoid the “difficulty” of getting foreign governments to pay their bills by demanding cash on the barrel before he starts dispensing advice.
“You need to be paid most of the fee up front — I’m trying to do that with every client,” Davis laughed.