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Qatar Jumps Trump Ship To Hire Democratic Lobby Firm

October 14th, 2020 06:15

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.