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Lobbyists Ride Out Regime Change in Egypt

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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.

Bill Allison, an analyst for the Sunlight Foundation, said that often when there is a turnover in government, there is a change in lobbying teams. He cited the example of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, an ardent critic of the United States who fired the country’s U.S. lobbying team when he was elected.

Foreign relations experts said that while a change in lobbying teams often accompanies political upheaval, the situation in Egypt is different in part because much of the government has not really changed yet.

“For all practical purposes as it affects lobbying you haven’t had regime change yet,” said Anthony Cordesman, a scholar at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. 

Allison said the same. The fact that PLM is still advocating on behalf of Egypt is a sign that “the government is still operating the same as before,” he said.

A change in the lobbying team may occur if and when elections are held in Egypt as the military has promised, these observers said.

It is not unusual for foreign governments to fire their lobbying teams not only when there is a change in power but even when foreign leaders are angered at actions of the U.S. government.

Bannerman said the government of Tunisia fired his firm years ago over disputes stemming from differences from the Gulf War. 

“We told them the truth and that’s not what they wanted to hear,” Bannerman said.

Correction: Feb. 16, 2011

The article misstated the year Graeme Bannerman’s firm began representing Egypt. It was 1990.

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