November 29, 2018

Warren Seeks Answers from Lobbying Firms about Services for Saudi Government

After Khashoggi Murder, Senator Requests Information from 23 U.S. Firms with Saudi Ties; Inquiry Follows Introduction of Comprehensive Anti-Corruption Bill that Would Ban Americans from Lobbying for Foreign Governments

Text of Letters (PDF)

Washington, DC - United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) sent letters to 23 U.S. lobbying firms requesting information on the scope of their lobbying services for the government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia or any Saudi government-affiliated entity. The senator's letters ask about the firms' past and present contracts for lobbying work on behalf of Saudi Arabia and question whether the firms' relationship with the regime that assassinated journalist Jamal Khashoggi is consistent with American values.

Senator Warren wrote letters to 18 lobbying firms that currently lobby for or previously lobbied for the Saudi government, or otherwise remain registered under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) as representatives of Saudi government interests. These firms include: Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck; MSLGroup Americas Inc.; Hohlt Group Global LLC; Hogan Lovells U.S. LLP; Fleishman-Hillard Inc.; Hill and Knowlton Strategies LLC; Just Consulting LLC; Portland PR Inc.; Southfive Strategies LLC; SAPRAC Inc.; Capitol Media Group; Churchill Ripley LLC; McKeon Group Inc.; Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP; Squire Patton Boggs LLP; November Team LLC; CGCN Group; and King & Spalding.

"This ongoing status as a representative of Saudi government interests raises questions about whether your firm prioritizes profit margins over basic human rights, and whether it is ethically and morally defensible for American lobbyists to be providing services to a repressive foreign regime that does not share America's values," wrote Senator Warren.

The senator also wrote letters to five other lobbying firms (BGR; The Glover Park Group; The Harbour Group; The Gladstone Place Partners LLC; and Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP) that have reportedly terminated all lobbying contracts with the Saudi government in order to confirm that these firms have ceased all lobbying for the Kingdom and have withdrawn, or intend to withdraw, their active registration with the federal government as representatives of Saudi interests.

"If the reports are accurate, the decision to terminate lobbying services for the Saudi government is a positive step toward reducing the corrosive influence of foreign governments and other special interests on our democracy," Senator Warren continued.

Senator Warren's letters follow her recent introduction of the Anti-Corruption and Public Integrity Act, a comprehensive bill that, among other ambitious measures, would prohibit American lobbyists from accepting compensation from foreign governments, foreign individuals, and foreign companies to influence U.S. policy.  The legislation would effectively end American lobbying firms' work for the Saudi government, and significantly diminish the outsized influence that these special interests have in Washington.

Earlier this year, Senator Warren sent letters to Booz Allen Hamilton, Boston Consulting Group, and Deloitte requesting information on the scope of the services provided by the three major consulting firms to the Saudi government or any Saudi government-affiliated entity, and to McKinsey & Company to request a full, transparent accounting of reports that McKinsey's work may have enabled the Kingdom to repress critics and commit other human rights abuses.

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