Foreign Agent Files

Posted October 2, 2007 at 6:24pm

A team of Patton Boggs’ lobbyists that took in the sights of Cyprus this summer came back with the ultimate K Street souvenir: a $103,625-a-month contract. [IMGCAP(1)]

According to the contract, on file at the Justice Department, Patton Boggs will provide “counsel and advice to the Government of the Republic of Cyprus regarding relations with the United States Government and the Executive Branch.”

Qorvis Communications and CMS Strategies also are getting a piece of the Cyprus account, according to the contract.

The long list of lobbyists working on the issue include Tom Boggs, former Sen. John Breaux (D-La.) and Edward Newberry as well as Michael Petruzzello of Qorvis and Christy Stefadouros from CMS Strategies.

Cyprus wasn’t the only foreign client to tap Patton Boggs recently. The firm’s Rodney Slater, a former Transportation Secretary during the Clinton administration, is working for Bermuda’s Ministry of Finance. Slater will advise the ministry “on U.S. public policy, tax, legislative and regulatory issues,” according to a disclosure report filed with DOJ.

Bermuda, unlike Cyprus, will pay by the hour. To give the client an idea of what kind of bill might be in store, Slater wrote that Patton Boggs’ partners’ billing rates range from $270 an hour to $920 an hour. “For example, my time is billed at $675 per hour,” he divulged.

Meanwhile, the Livingston Group, the firm of former Rep. Bob Livingston (R-La.), has started working for the Bank of the Netherlands Antilles for $40,000 a month, plus expenses. “TLG will be working in the area of a potential tax treaty, which would enhance the Netherlands Antilles and Curacao’s role as a financial services center in the Caribbean,” Livingston said in an e-mailed statement to Roll Call.

The embassy of the United Arab Emirates has tapped a team from Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld led by Daniel Spiegel, who served as a U.S. permanent representative to the United Nations during the Clinton administration. Akin Gump will handle a broad range of issues for the Middle Eastern country. The firm will give advice on export controls and economic sanctions, human rights and human trafficking, trade negotiations, and U.S. defense policy, among others.

“Akin Gump will advise the Embassy in expanding its communication and contact with key Members and staff in Congress,” Spiegel said in the contract. “The congressional members and staff will similarly benefit from a better understanding of the UAE and its posture of friendship and partnership toward the United States.” The firm will bill UAE by the hour.

Another Middle Eastern neighbor, Saudi Arabia, signed with Hogan & Hartson for $300,000 for six months work. The firm’s H.P. Goldfield is the point person.

Genocide — or Not. A bill that is the subject of a long-running lobbying battle and a top priority for the government of Turkey will get a committee vote in the House next week. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) announced on Tuesday that the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Oct. 10 will mark up and vote on a Congressional resolution that recognizes the killings of Armenians by the former Ottoman Empire, starting in 1915, as “genocide.”

The Turkish government, which has on retainer the Livingston Group and DLA Piper, has been lobbying furiously against the resolution, including ginning up support from defense contractors and other businesses operating in Turkey. That lobbying team includes former Minority Leader Dick Gephardt (D-Mo.), who is with DLA Piper.

“They have been lobbying against this more intensely than I have ever seen,” said Schiff in an interview.

But, he added, “They don’t have the truth on their side. There is really no debate among historians that this was genocide.”

Schiff’s district, which includes Pasadena, apparently has the largest Armenian population in the world outside of the Republic of Armenia, a landlocked country which shares a border with Turkey.

Schiff said his resolution, which has previously passed out of committee but not made it to full House consideration, has its best shot now, even though he hasn’t gotten Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to commit to bringing it for a vote by the full House.

“We have a strong number of co-sponsors on the committee and both sides of the aisle,” Schiff said. “Knock on wood … we’re optimistic. I am hopeful the bill can come up on the floor not long after it comes out of committee.”

In recent years, then-Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) had prevented the bill from making it to the House floor, Schiff said. If it does make it to the floor, it is expected to pass. The bill currently has more than 225 co- sponsors.

“I think that’s a pretty strong indication of how the Members feel about the importance of the issue,” the Congressman added.

Turkish Ambassador Nabi Sensoy said he has meetings scheduled with Schiff’s colleagues as soon as today.

“Now, since we have a markup on the 10th, and there’s going to be a vote, we’re going to redouble our efforts at the Capitol Hill,” Sensoy said. “We hope that from different channels, the messages are going there. The passage of such a resolution will have a very negative effect on Turkish-American relations.”

Getting Heard on the Hill. SoundExchange Inc., the recording industry’s nonprofit tasked with collecting the royalties owed for songs, has stepped up its lobbying presence as it takes on broadcasters in a battle to get more royalties.

The recording industry earlier this year launched a large-scale effort to change copyright laws in the hopes of forcing broadcasters to pay royalties not just to the holders of a song’s copyright but also to the performers and the music labels.

SoundExchange’s general counsel Michael Huppe and executive director John Simson registered for the first time to lobby Congress, and SoundExchange spokesman Richard Ades said the group has hired a team of lobbyists from The Washington Group, including former Rep. Susan Molinari (R-N.Y.) and Eugene Patrone and the lobby shop Bartlett, Bendall & Kadesh. SoundExchange has spent $50,000 so far this year.

Current law mandates satellite and Internet radio outlets to pay record labels and artists performance fees when they play their songs, but traditional radio stations do not have to. Ades said he expected legislation to be introduced to cover radio as well.

“It’s ensuring that artists and content owners are paid whenever and wherever their music is played,” he said.

K Street Moves. Walter Welsh, currently a lobbyist with Hartford Life, is joining the American Council of Life Insurers on Nov. 5 as senior vice president. Welsh will replace Ann Cammack, who is joining MassMutual Financial Group, a member of ACLI.

• The Federation for American Immigration Reform has tapped Julie Kirchner as its executive director. Before joining FAIR, Kirchner worked as counsel at the Minnesota House of Representatives, where she staffed the Judiciary and Civil Law committees.

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