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Lobbyists Ride Out Regime Change in Egypt

But Foreign Clients Can Make Difficult Partners for U.S. Lobbying Firms

John Moore/Getty Images
Protesters took to the streets and overthrew the regime of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, but the nation’s K Street lobbying team remains in place and “busier than ever,” said Toby Moffett, a principal in the PLM Group.

Correction Appended

The government of Egypt has fallen, but its lobbyists in the U.S. soldier on.

K Street firms hired to lobby for the turbulent nation have remained active even after the collapse of the regime, due in part to their long-standing ties to the Egyptian military now running the country.

The lobbyists have been under contract to the Defense Ministry for years.

Even after the government of President Hosni Mubarak collapsed under a popular uprising, the principals of the PLM Group, a joint lobbying venture, continue to meet with Egyptian officials in Washington, D.C., and lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

“We’re busier than ever,” said former Rep. Toby Moffett (D-Conn.), who is chairman of the Moffett Group, which is part of the three-firm lobbying partnership.

Moffett said he attended a two-hour meeting Monday at the Egyptian embassy. It also included other PLM lobbyists Tony Podesta, president of the Podesta Group, and former Rep. Bob Livingston (R-La.), who chairs the Livingston Group.

The lobbyists also had a meeting scheduled Tuesday with the Egyptian military attache in Washington. Moffett said he spent six hours on Capitol Hill at the beginning of the week and has been fielding questions from lawmakers about the future of the Egyptian government.

While the unfolding events in the Middle East have created a sense of uncertainty about the future of U.S.-Egyptian ties, the lobbying relationship remains stable largely because the $1.1 million annual lobbying contract is not with the Egyptian president but with three Cabinet-level offices that remain in place.

The lobbyists have contracts with the Defense Ministry, the Foreign Ministry and the International Cooperation Ministry.

The Egyptian military has a vested interest in the country’s relationship with the U.S. because of the vast amount of American military aid it receives, experts said. Over the years, the Defense Ministry has cultivated key relationships here, including with two lobbyists, William “Skip” Miner and Curtis Silvers, who now work as subcontractors to the PLM Group.

But lobbying relationships can quickly sour when governments change.

Tunisia, where protesters also ousted the government recently, does not have a registered lobbyist in Washington, but it had a public relations contract with the Washington Media Group.

Gregory Vistica, the president of Washington Media Group, said his firm ended its PR contract with Tunisia a week before President Ben Ali fled the country following widespread protests.

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