8 March 2019 — Issue #36
Welcome to our latest edition of the Global Public Affairs Club’s weekly round-up.
Here’s what’s on our radar and what caught our attention over the past few days. Think we missed any vital information? Have insights to share with us? Then send us your tips here.
FOUR THINGS TO KNOW THIS WEEK
1. FACEBOOK’S GLOBAL LOBBYING AGAINST DATA PRIVACY LAWS REVEALED: an explosive new leak of internal Facebook documents has revealed a secretive global lobbying operation targeting hundreds of legislators and regulators in an attempt to procure influence across the world, including in the UK, the U.S., Canada, India, Vietnam, Argentina, Brazil, Malaysia and all EU member states, via The Guardian.
2. FRANCE PLOWS AHEAD WITH DIGITAL TAX: Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said Wednesday that Paris would impose the tax on some 30 multinational companies that generate more than €750 million annually, a group that includes Facebook, Google, Amazon, Twitter, Microsoft, Apple and Uber, among other Silicon Valley giants, via POLITICO Pro.
4. LOBBYISTS TRY TO CALM CLIENTS BEFORE ELECTION: Everyone wants their own election hub or website this campaign. Amongst some: FTI, Cicero and Interel Group have all launched their sites in recent weeks. Interel’s “voteeurope” for example, is intended to calm clients given persistent rumors and fears of a lurch to the far-right in the May election. Voteeurope also shows which far-right or far-left parties in the Parliament have done serious legislative work in the current term, via POLITICO Pro EU Influence.
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NEW ON THE TRANSPARENCY REGISTER
EU REGISTER WEEKLY RECAP: A small week for registrations but it involved big bucks. There were 18 new declarations, with a majority of 10 listed as “in-house lobbyists and professional associations”.
IN-HOUSE LOBBY NUMBER ONE: The Dutch company Sdu uitgevers BV, based in The Hague is a “leading Dutch multimedia publisher of professional information in the field of Legal, Tax and Regulatory”. It will be monitoring a list of legal issues. The estimated costs attributable to actions covered by the register are at €900,000-€999,999, via the EU Transparency Register.
BIGGEST TRANSPARENCY SPENDER: The Promontory Financial Group, a “wholly owned subsidiary of IBM, is a global consulting firm”. It will be “working with clients in addressing regulatory and enforcement issues in the European Union and their business implications”. The estimated costs attributable to actions covered by the register are at €2,000,000-2,249,999.
SANTA FE, NEW MEXICO, U.S. – LOBBYIST TRANSPARENCY BILL HEADED TO HOUSE FLOOR: A legislation that would require more public transparency about lobbying that goes on during legislative sessions passed its second committee on 27 February. HB 131 would require lobbyists to report to the Secretary of State all the bills they lobbied on, and their position on the bills if they took one, within 14 days of the end of the session, via New Mexico In Depth.
CHETUMAL, MEXICO – FIRST NATIONAL CONFERENCE ON TRANSPARENCY LEGISLATION: During the opening of the First National Meeting on Legislative Transparency, Eduardo Martinez Arcila, Member of Parliament and president of the High Commission of the State Congress said that one legacy of the 15th legislature will be the modernization of legislative power and the creation of an open parliament, where free and informed citizens can exercise sovereignty, via Quadratin Queretaro.
WHAT CAUGHT OUR EYE AROUND THE WORLD
NEW DEHLI, INDIA – U.S. LOBBYING AGAINST HUAWEI, CLAIMS COMPANY CEO: Chinese telecom giant Huawei alleged that the U.S. is lobbying against its business in India while the company complies with global security requirements. “Yes. For sure the U.S. is lobbying (against Huawei) and everybody knows. I am talking about India,” Huawei India CEO Jay Chen declared when asked if the U.S. administration was lobbying against the company in India, via Daily Pioneer.
LONDON, U.K. – TORY PEER GETS IN A TANGLE OVER LOBBYING AS MPS APPLY PRESSURE: Greg Barker, former Energy Minister and current chair of the London-listed energy-to-aluminium group EN+, was under attack by the foreign affairs select committee when telling MPs he had not used a lobbying firm or “any similar organization” in the U.K. Barker also claimed that a Washington D.C.-based public affairs agency had not been doing any lobbying even though Mercury Public Affairs was given a $100,000-a-month contract to push for the lifting of sanctions on En+, via Public Affairs News.
ALBERTA, CANADA – RACHEL NOTLEY LOBBIES ENERGY BILL: 17th premier of Alberta, Rachel Notley says it makes no sense for Ottawa to use one hand to buy the Trans Mountain pipeline for $4.5 billion, and another to push legislation that would deter investors from future energy projects. On 27 February she gave the Senate her take on Bill C-69, the Impact Assessment Act, which overhauls the way energy projects are assessed for their effects on the environment as well as contributions to the country’s social and economic well-being, via Edmonton Sun.
BERN, SWITZERLAND – NGO CRITICISES SWITZERLAND OVER ‘OPAQUE’ LOBBYISTS: Switzerland came 11th out of 20 states and three EU institutions in a survey published 28 February, which compared the quality of lobbying work being carried out. The top three were Slovenia, the European Commission and Lithuania, while Hungary and Cyprus were ranked last. According to their official declarations, Switzerland’s 246 parliamentarians have over 2,000 declared links to over 1,700 organizations, via Swiss Info.
WASHINGTON D.C., U.S. – T-MOBILE SPENT $195,000 AT TRUMP HOTEL: As was previously reported, the news of repeated stays at the Trump International Hotel by executives of T-Mobile USA now has figures. The company declared it spent $195,000 at President Trump‘s hotel in Washington D.C., over the past 10 months while it has lobbied for government approval of its proposed merger with Sprint. CEO John Legere and fellow executives have repeatedly stayed at the Trump International Hotel since announcing the merger in April 2018, despite reporting just one visit to the hotel prior to that time, via Ars Technica.
PFIZER HIRES RABEN GROUP: Pfizer has added the Raben Group to its flotilla of lobbying firms. The drug maker, whose CEO Albert Bourla, testified before the U.S. Senate Finance Committee on 26 February, spent $11.4 million on Washington D.C. lobbying last year — millions more than any of the other pharmaceutical companies whose executives faced the committee, via POLITICO Influence (PI).
MARSHALL & POPP SIGNS FIVE: Marshall & Popp, the new U.S. based lobbying firm started by two veteran Senate Republican staffers, has signed its first five clients. Hazen Marshall, a former policy director to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Monica Popp, a former chief of staff to U.S. Senator John Cornyn, will lobby for the Airports Council International — North America, Amgen, Genentech, the Personal Care Products Council and Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, according to disclosure filings. The work will include lobbying on drug pricing, via PI.
BEACON HILL LOBBYING HIERARCHY CHANGING: ML Strategies set a record in 2018 for lobbying fees, raking in $5.1 million and retaining its hold on the top spot. But another firm, Smith Costello & Crawford, vaulted from fifth to second place in the rankings on the strength of a 65 percent increase in fees. The firm’s billings rose from just over $1 million in 2016 to $3.2 million in 2018, via CommonWealth Magazine.
365 SHERPAS OPENS BRUSSELS OFFICE: Berlin-based consultancy 365 Sherpas is opening its Brussels office, with Roxane Roth coming on board as a senior associate, leaving EU40, via POLITICO Pro Eu Influence.
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MOVERS & SHAKERS
GARRETT LEVIN BECOMES NEW CHIEF EXECUTIVE: The Digital Media Association has named Garrett Levin as its new chief executive. Levin is currently the National Association of Broadcasters’ senior vice president and deputy general counsel for intellectual property law and policy, via PI.
NEW PAIR OF DIRECTORS FOR THE NATIONAL MARINE MANUFACTURERS: The National Marine Manufacturers Association has hired a pair of new directors of federal government relations. Callie Hoyt joins the association from the Motorcycle Industry Council, where she was federal affairs manager; Clay Crabtree joins NMMA from the American Sportfishing Association, where he was policy director, via PI.
DOUBLE HIRE FOR LINCOLN NETWORK: Lincoln Network has hired Ryan Radia as senior policy counsel and William Upton as director of communications and outreach. Radia previously served as research fellow and regulatory counsel at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. Upton most recently served as a senior account executive for CRC Public Relations, via PI.
NEW (AND FIRST!) WOMAN CHAIR AT DELOITTE GLOBAL: Sharon Thorne is the designated incoming Chair of the Deloitte Global Board of Directors. Effective June 2019, Thorne will become the first woman to serve in this role, via POLITICO Pro EU Influence.
We hope you enjoyed this week’s GPAC weekly round-up.
Stay tuned for next Friday’s edition!