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FARA Few Dollars More . . . A field trip to the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) Registration Unit Public Office is almost guaranteed to turn up a motley cast of colorful characters. You’re as likely to discover that the government of Ontario has shelled out $1 million for lobby work as you are to find that the World Center for Research on the Green Book — a group whose mission it is to hype the 1975 manifesto of Libyan leader Gen. Moammar Gadhafi — has dropped a few hundred thousand dollars to spread its gospel. FARA records released this month show that the past six months have been bountiful ones for lobbyists and others representing foreign governments of widely ranging repute. The sole member of the Axis of Evil to shell out FARA cash in the past six months was the government of Iran, which paid Mark Edmond Clark, a former fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, $20,000 for, among other things, distributing letters from the Iranian government to House and Senate members. Clark also created a U.S. newsletter for the Iranian mullahs; provided “assistance” for their nuclear negotiations with Germany, France, and the United Kingdom; and helped develop the itinerary for President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s September 2005 visit to New York, where he addressed the U.N. General Assembly. No word if that included a table at Jean Georges. Ahmadinejad must have been pleased with Clark’s planning. After returning to Iran he said that when he spoke at the U.N., a divine light surrounded him and that “for those 27 or 28 minutes, all the leaders of the world did not blink.” Clark could not be reached for comment. Iran wasn’t the only global hot spot to show up in the filings: The government of Sudan also shelled out $402,000 to C/R International LLC to make the case that the regime is not, in fact, genocidal. C/R took its message to State Department officials, House staffers, and the press. The firm stopped working for Sudan in February, and the firm apparently is not eager to tout the affiliation or the sweet payday. Reached by phone, a female staffer at the firm’s D.C. office who did not identify herself would only say, “I can tell you that we do not work for Sudan.” But when asked if it had worked for Sudan in the past few months, she punted the call to firm principal Robert Cabelly’s voice mail. Cabelly was traveling and did not return the call before deadline. C/R International also collected $23,300 from the oil-rich but near-dictatorial government of Equatorial Guinea to promote U.S.-sponsored energy projects in the West African country. Alas, it was an ill-fated match. C/R’s contract was terminated in December 2005 “because of nonpayment.” Moving north in Africa, as noted, Libya’s World Center for Research on the Green Book paid $407,300 to the Washington-based MENA Cultural & Communications Center, a group about which very little information seems available, to spread the good word in America. . . . Apparently, the $407,300 did not cover speaking to Full Disclosure, as MENA did not return phone calls seeking an explanation of its mission. The Libyan government, meanwhile, paid $375,000 to Fahmy Hudome International, the consulting shop of Randa Fahmy Hudome, a former associate deputy secretary of energy under then-Secretary Spencer Abraham. Fahmy Hudome has been working for Tripoli since 2004, when the United States lifted sanctions imposed on the country after the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am flight over Lockerbie, Scotland. Not that all FARA fees are generated through unsavory governments. Consider Hogan & Hartson, which brought in almost $2 million representing the government of Ontario ($1,248,420), the government of the Bahamas ($481,048), and the government of Qatar ($120,775). The Livingston Group, long a FARA powerhouse, reported more than $1 million in FARA fees, with $900,000 coming from the government of Turkey, its largest client. It also brought in $150,000 from the government of Azerbaijan. DLA Piper Rudnick Gray Cary recorded nearly $620,000 in FARA receipts, with the government of Spain kicking in $300,000, the German state of Rheinland-Pfalz $212,500, and the Mexican Senate $107,479. But it wasn’t all about the money; Piper Rudnick repped the government of Afghanistan pro bono. Cynics take note. Or, on second thought, don’t. — Andy Metzger
D-Day The Normandy Group, a new lobby shop composed of six alumni from Fleischman and Walsh, has registered a bevy of new clients, including American Airlines, Electronic Warfare Association, American Systems Corp., Forest City Enterprises, National Cable & Telecommunications Association, Sanako Corp., Verizon Communications, Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association, Qualcomm Inc., and Check Point Software Technologies. The group is led by Louis Dupart, formerly chief counsel on the House Intelligence Committee. It opened in February. — Joe Crea
Go Fish The Food and Water Watch Fund, a newly formed group composed of Public Citizen alumni, has recently registered with the Senate to lobby on a number of food- and water-related issues. At the top of its agenda is Open Ocean Acquaculture, an initiative designed to simulate (and perhaps stimulate) the creation of open-water fisheries in federal waters. Last June the Bush administration sent a bill to Congress that would, for the first time, open up the costal Exclusive Economic Zone to permitting for large underwater fish farms, according to the group’s staff attorney, Zach Corrigan. The House has not acted on the proposed legislation, but Sen. John Sununu (R-N.H.) will soon introduce a measure similar to the administration’s bill, with some minor changes, says Corrigan. — Joe Crea
Egg Rolling It’s not really a protest or political statement, says the gay lobby, but the effort to get hundreds of gay and lesbian families to attend the annual White House Easter Egg Roll seems to be quickly heading in that direction. In an e-mail distributed to members of the Gay, Lesbian & Allies Senate Staff Caucus, Colleen Gillespie, a volunteer for Family Pride, the group assisting the gay families, asked for volunteers to stand in line overnight to secure tickets: “We think this is a great opportunity to make our families visible . . . the media is always there so we can be assured that pictures of our wonderful families having a great time will be broadcast across the nation,” wrote Gillespie, who did not return phone calls seeking comment. Jennifer Chrisler, executive director of Family Pride, says the e-mail is nothing more than a request for manpower. “It’s just about us casting a net far and wide to pull this day off for the families,” says Chrisler, who confirmed the participation of 115 families. Peter Watkins, a spokesman for first lady Laura Bush, who is hosting the event, says it is public and all families are welcome to attend. The egg roll is scheduled for Easter Monday. — Joe Crea
Cost of Business Last year may be long gone, but thanks to the Senate’s lax lobby disclosure filing requirements, reports of companies’ 2005 in-house lobby spending are still making their way to the Senate Office of Public Records. Reports filed in the past month confirm that if there’s one constant in Washington, it’s money. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce filed its reports this month, disclosing that it spent nearly $39 million through its main operation and its legal reform wing. Health care groups were not pinching pennies, either. The American Hospital Association spent $19.8 million, and the American Medical Association doled out $19.2 million. Microsoft Corp., not a Washington power player until recently, spent $8.7 million on its in-house lobbying. Other firms and groups to report big in-house spending in 2005 include the Securities Industry Association ($8.3 million), Motorola Inc. ($7.6 million), BellSouth Corp. ($7.4 million), and the oft-demonized Exxon Mobil Corp. ($7.1 million). — Andy Metzger
Ringing the Bells Final figures are not in yet for 2005, but the U.S. Telecom Association, the nation’s premier trade association for the telecom industry, spent a whopping $11.4 million from January to June 2005, according to recent Senate filings. Total 2004 expenditures of $14.8 million doubled what the group had spent in 2003. According to Senate filings, during the first half of 2005 the association lobbied on a variety of issues, including universal service, local telecommunications competition, updating the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the Junk Fax Prevention Act, the Preserving Innovation in Telecom Act, and the Death Tax Repeal Permanency Act. Whew. — Joe Crea
Groovin’ When you’re a one-man operation going up against the likes of the Recording Industry Association of America, the Motion Picture Association of America, and what you publicly describe as “Hollywood cartels,” it doesn’t hurt to have a good schtick. Fortunately, IPac, the Intellectual Property Action Committee, a year-and-a-half-old group that argues for hands-off IP policies, has a pretty good one: It’s sent iPods, loaded with copyright-released music and videos, to 12 senators on the Senate Commerce Committee, which is looking to move landscape-shifting copyright legislation in the upcoming months. But Jake Fisher, IPac’s executive director and sole full-time employee, is quick to explain that the iPods weren’t gifts. “They’re in-kind campaign contributions,” he says. Among the recipients: Gordon Smith (R-Ore.), who has been assigned to draft broadcast-flag legislation; Commerce Committee members John Sununu (R-N.H.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Conrad Burns (R-Mont.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), John Ensign (R-Nev.), Trent Lott (R-Miss.), and John Kerry (D-Mass.); and Commerce Co-Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii). Conspicuously absent from the list? Commerce Chairman Ted Stevens (R-Alaska). Fisher can explain. “He got an iPod for Christmas from his daughter,” he says, and Fisher did not want to commit the faux pas of giving Stevens something he already has. Fisher also points out that the iPods came stocked with digital copies of the Constitution. So what does he recommend the senators load on to their new toys? “They’ll be able to preview campaign commercials and keep track of their donor databases.” Rock on. — Andy Metzger

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