US media reported in August on what has described as the ‘unusual’ hiring of a Democratic lobbying firm by the Qatari government, after years of attempts to get closer to President Trump and other prominent Republicans. The report asserted that this move was part of a trend also connected to the conventional wisdom of Corporate America that Joe Biden will get elected president in November. According to the Daily Beast report, the lobbyist firm is co-run by Serbia’s former ambassador to the United States:
August 28, 2020 This month, the Gulf monarchy’s D.C. embassy brought on board a new government relations firm, Praia Consultants, that is run by Serbia’s former ambassador to the United States and a Chicago political consultant named Dan Shomon. The former ambassador, Vladimir Petrovic, raised money for Barack Obama’s Senate campaign, and Shomon is a longtime Obama associate and former top political aide who began cashing in on the relationship even before Obama was elected president…Though not a segment of corporate America, the Qatari embassy’s decision to hire Praia underscores the trend. Petrovic founded the firm just last month, and foreign agent disclosures filed with the Justice Department say that he and Shomon will be splitting the revenue from their new lobbying agreement with Qatar…“We both have a lot of friends working for Biden,” Petrovic told Foreign Lobby Report, a news service that tracks foreign agent registrations, of his and Shomon’s new practice. “I worked with Democrats for years, and so has Dan. We’re hoping things are going to change [in Washington].”
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Reporting on Qatari lobbying efforts in the U.S. in the past few years has included:
- In August 2015, the Global Muslim Brotherhood Daily Watch reported that the Sheikh Eid Bin Mohammed al-Thani Charitable Foundation, accused of funding Hamas, had hired a lawyer and former Chief Counsel for the US House of Representative, Committee on the Budget to lobby in the U.S. on its behalf.
- In August 2018, the Wall Street Journal reported that during 2017, the year in which Qatar’s neighboring Gulf countries imposed their blockade, Qatar spent $16.3 million on lobbying, directly employing 23 lobbying firms. The WSJ also related to a list of 250 people identified as influential in President Trump’s orbit, who were to be approached.
- Tablet Magazine reported in March 2020 that some of these efforts were dedicated to bringing U.S. Jewish leaders on a visit to Doha to speak with Qatari officials. Tablet Magazine also referred to a significant amount of money it said Qatar had poured into local government, educational institutions, think tank and media across America, adding that Qatar had already turned much of its energy wealth into an enviable investment portfolio with significant holdings throughout the U.S.
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