With Daniel Lippman
ETHIOPIA ADDS FORMER CONGRESSMAN: The Ethiopian government has added former congressman Joe Garcia to its team of lobbyists from Mercury Public Affairs, new Justice Department filings show. The one-term Florida Democrat is the first former lawmaker to represent the Ethiopian government, which the Biden administration has accused of “ethnic cleansing” in the Tigray region since a civil war there broke out almost a year ago.
— Mercury, who documents filed with the Justice Department show was hired by Ethiopia’s Ambassador to the U.S. Fitsum Arega at the end of August, is Addis Ababa’s only remaining representation in Washington after the lobbying firm Venable let its contract with the Ethiopian Peace Ministry expire at the end of April. The team from Mercury also includes Avery Rose Royster, a former aide to Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Ashley Bauman, a DNC alum, and William Ogborn, a State Department alum.
— A copy of Mercury’s contract filed with the Justice Department shows that the lobbying firm will provide “government relations and media relations consulting and management services” for Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government until November. The Biden administration has pushed for a ceasefire among all parties involved in the atrocities in Ethiopia, which includes allied militias in Eritrea and which Ahmed’s government insists was initiated by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front. Last month, Biden signed an executive order authorizing potential sanctions on those involved unless fighting there stops.
— Ahmed was sworn in for a new term as prime minister earlier this week, which came days after his administration expelled seven United Nations aid workers in charge of humanitarian relief in Tigray. UN secretary general António Guterres subsequently warned that the country is facing an “immense humanitarian crisis that demands immediate attention” and called for unfettered access to the Tigray region.
— Earlier this summer, Mercury signed the pro-government diaspora group the American Ethiopia Public Affairs Committee, which has paid the firm $100,000, according to lobbying disclosures. Garcia was initially listed as lobbying on the account, as well as former Rep. Toby Moffett and former Sen. David Vitter. But Garcia was not listed on the firm’s third quarter lobbying report for AEPAC. The group, which insists on its website is not affiliated with any one Ethiopian politician or political party, was formed in April, according to an announcement by Arega on the embassy’s website.
HSBC ADDS FORMER SINEMA LEGISLATIVE CHIEF: Alyssa Marois has joined the U.S. arm of British financial giant HSBC as senior vice president of public affairs. She most recently spent four years at JPMorgan as vice president of federal government relations, where lobbying disclosures show she lobbied the Senate, House and executive branch on a number of issues including housing policy, corporate taxes, consumer protection, cybersecurity and more. She also lobbied for PNC between stints on the Hill, ending her tenure there as legislative director for then-Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), who of course has taken an outsize role in shaping the Democratic reconciliation package. Marois also previously worked for former Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.).
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FIREHOUSE ADDS 6: The bipartisan public affairs firm Firehouse Strategies has announced six new hires, including Jen Farber as managing director. Farber is a Purple Strategies and GMMB alum and has worked campaigns for former President Barack Obama, John Kerry and Howard Dean. She’s also a Chuck Schumer alum. The firm also announced two new vice presidents: Natalie Johnson, a former communications director for Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.) and former Sen. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.); and Mari Johnson, who most recently was a director at Mercury and is a Republican Main Street Partnership alum.
— Firehouse also added Sarah Rapier, Ellie Bowen and Matthew Schantin as associates. The firm also announced half a dozen promotions, elevating Kate Brown to political director, with Sarah Gallagher becoming her deputy. Sam Azzarelli and Jennifer Krantz will now be senior vice presidents, and Scott Bembenek is becoming a vice president at Firehouse.
THE LATEST IN THE BROIDY CASE: “Former Republican National Committee finance official Elliott Broidy has opened a new front in his legal war with Qatar over his claims the Persian Gulf state orchestrated the hacking and release of his emails in retaliation for his work for rivals in United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia,” POLITICO’s Josh Gerstein reports. “Broidy’s prior efforts to sue the Qatari government have foundered after the country invoked the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act that insulates foreign governments from suits in U.S. courts.”
— “Last year, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Qatar’s immunity. And, in June, the Supreme Court declined to take up the issue. In another shot at the emirate, Broidy’s attorneys have seized on a suit filed against him in August by an obscure travel company that asserted its Qatar-focused business was damaged by what the firm said was misinformation Broidy spread about Qatari ties to terrorism.”
— “In a legal filing late Thursday, Broidy’s attorneys argue the Delaware-based company — Mosafer — is acting as a front for the Qatari government. Broidy’s team contends that makes the suit a vehicle for him to countersue Qatar over its alleged role in the hacking and distribution of his emails to the media in 2018.”
ICYMI THURSDAY — EXODUS AT MERCURY: “Former prominent Democratic elected officials Fabian Nuñez, Barbara Boxer and Antonio Villaraigosa led the mass resignations from one of the state’s most powerful lobbying firms, Mercury Public Affairs,” The Los Angeles Times’ Seema Mehta and Melanie Mason report.
— “The departures are largely prompted by financial disputes. Nuñez filed a lawsuit that alleges that Omnicom — Mercury’s parent company — failed to live up to an agreement that would allow the California group to grow its business around the world. The suit also faults Omnicom for its use of restrictive covenants — in effect noncompete clauses — that are illegal under California law even if signed. And Nuñez excoriates the company’s handling of a foreign nonprofit tied to former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort that exposed Mercury to liability and public denouncement.”
— “The lawsuit and the resignations — from about a quarter of the company’s workforce — throw into doubt the California presence of a powerhouse lobbying firm, which has raked in $1.3 million so far this year from clients such as Clorox, Lyft, the California Charter Schools Assn. and Westlands Water District, the utility that oversees the heart of the state’s agricultural lands in the Central Valley. Nuñez, Villaraigosa, Boxer and the other California employees who left the company plan to set up a public affairs and consulting firm. ‘All our clients are coming with us,’ said Villaraigosa, the former Los Angeles mayor who also accused Omnicom of holding them ‘hostage’ with noncompete clauses.”
— In a statement to PI, Mercury chief executive Kieran Mahoney would not comment on the legal proceedings but said that “Mercury’s dozen remaining partners look forward to leading the continued growth of our firm.”
CONGRESS BLEEDING TECH STAFFERS: POLITICO’s Emily Birnbaum and John Hendel dug into the brain drain taking place among tech-savvy Hill staffers, with “more than a dozen senior Democratic tech and telecom policy staffers leaving their posts this year,” many of whom are landing at Silicon Valley and telecom stalwarts like Facebook, Verizon, Apple, Charter Communications, the National Association of Broadcasters and the cloud company VMware. “They’re leaving members’ personal offices as well as the Senate and House committees that oversee agencies like the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Communications Commission, along with topics like broadband, online speech and data privacy,” Emily and John write.
— “The most recent departures include the top tech and telecom staffer for Sen. Amy Klobuchar — who announced her new job at Apple just hours after the Minnesota Democrat lamented to POLITICO that tech companies have ‘literally hired so many people in this town.’ The Democratic hiring wave reflects the industry demand for veteran policy experts from the party that controls the House, Senate and White House. But their loss deprives Congress of the staffers’ specialized knowledge of how social media giants use consumer data, the spread of artificial intelligence and the implications of spending billions of dollars to expand broadband internet access.”
— “Blame the atmosphere as well as longtime institutional struggles for retaining this talent, according to longtime watchers of Congress. 2021 created a ‘perfect storm’ fueling these departures, said one of the congressional staffers who left for industry this year, who requested anonymity to speak frankly. That ex-staffer tallied the combination of Covid pandemic restrictions, the Jan. 6 insurrection by pro-Trump supporters and the breakdown in camaraderie among Democrats and Republicans. The individual also noted what may be an ideal hiring window for longtime Democrats — they’re in high demand given the party’s leadership role, but that window could soon close given 2022 midterm elections that could put Republicans in charge of the House or Senate.”
— Americans for Tax Fairness named Maura Quint as its wealth tax campaign director. She most recently served as executive director of the grassroots group Tax March.
— Colleen Bell is now a managing director at Finsbury Glover Hering. She most recently was a senior advisor and legislative director for Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.).
— Former White House counsel Pat Cipollone is joining Browne George Ross as a name partner and a member of the executive committee.
— Jennifer Huddleston is joining NetChoice as policy counsel. She was most recently director of technology and innovation policy at the American Action Forum.
— David Ward is leaving the Association of Equipment Manufacturers, where he’s director of public affairs, to join Amazon Web Services, where he will help with PR on its sustainability work.
Jake Ellzey Victory Fund (Rep. Jake Ellzey, 31 Days PAC, NRCC)
Cross Country PAC (Hybrid PAC)
JVPA IE PAC (Super PAC)
Nevadans For Truth (PAC)
Agora Consulting, LLC: Wireless Internet Service Providers Assn
Alpine Group Partners, LLC.: Cae USa, Inc
Alpine Group Partners, LLC.: Siemens Energy
Beacon Impact: Beacon Impact
Cassidy & Associates, Inc.: Saltchuk Resources, Inc.
Covington & Burling LLP: Kbr Inc.
Ervin Graves Strategy Group, LLC: The Coca-Cola Company
Federal Health Policy Strategies: Lincoln Policy Group On Behalf Of Visiting Nurse Association Health Group
Holland & Knight LLP: Flo Services USa Inc.
Keefe Strategies LLC: Research!America
Liberty Partners Group, LLC: The Vascular Care Group (Cardiovascular Coalition)
Lincoln Policy Group: Visiting Nurse Association Health Group
Lincoln Policy Group: West Publishing Corporation, A Thomson Reuters Business
Masa Group, LLC: American Civil Liberties Union
Mcdermott+Consulting LLC: Connections Health Solutions
Mehlman Castagnetti Rosen & Thomas, Inc.: Mariposa Health, Inc. (On Behalf Of Plume)
Mehlman Castagnetti Rosen & Thomas, Inc.: Multiplier (On Behalf Of Ripe Roadmap)
Prime Policy Group: Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency
Rubicon Advisors, LLC: Aquestive Therapeutics, Inc
Salinas Strategies LLC: Charter Communications Operating, LLC
Semaconnect, Inc.: Semaconnect, Inc.
Southwest Strategies: San Diego County
Strategic Health Care: Ochin, Inc.
Strategic Marketing Innovations: Inpipe Energy
Strategic Marketing Innovations: Mabus Group On Behalf Of Fincantieri Marine Group LLC
Strategic Marketing Innovations: Ncd Technologies
Strategic Marketing Innovations: Stealth Software Technologies
Tempus Labs Inc: Tempus Labs Inc
The Raben Group: Exagen Inc
The Strategy Group, Inc.: We Work For Health
Thorn Run Partners: High Rock Property Advisors
Thorn Run Partners: Marconi, LLC
Thorn Run Partners: National Association For Behavioral Healthcare
Volansi, Inc.: Volansi, Inc.
Barloon.Co: The Foundation For Excellence In Education, Inc.
Dentons US LLP: Aaron’s Inc.
Dentons US LLP: Canadian American Business Council
In Defense Of Christians Advocacy Inc: In Defense Of Christians Advocacy Inc
In Defense Of Christians Advocacy Inc: In Defense Of Christians Advocacy Inc
Keefe Strategies LLC: Subject Matter
National Environmental Strategies: Afton Chemical Corporation
National Environmental Strategies: Firstenergy Corporation
Prime Policy Group: K&L Gates LLP On Behalf Of Nextstep Interactive, Inc
Republic Consulting, LLC: Calportland Corporation
The American Public Gas Association: American Public Gas Association
The Strategy Group, Inc.: Phrma
Former congressman will lobby for Ethiopian government – Politico