With Daniel Lippman
‘SOUTH BY SOUTHWEST ASIA?’ HOW EDELMAN PITCHED THE SAUDIS: “Saudi Arabia has an image problem. To solve it, one of the biggest public relations firms in the business proposed an out-of-the-box idea,” our Hailey Fuchs reports.
— “What if the kingdom hosted an entire week of ‘The Daily Show’ from different locations in the country; or if the Hollywood elite came to the kingdom for a Golden Globes-like show rather than staying put in Beverly Hills; or the Saudis created some sort of partnership with the Coachella musical festival that draws the L.A. influencer crowd every year?”
— “Trevor Noah will not be providing a Moment of Zen from Jeddah, at least any time soon. But the prospect of it happening was just one of many proposals prepared by U.S.-based PR giant Edelman as part of a larger attempt to help the Saudis market the kingdom as a new, modern-minded tourism and culture destination,” according to a “previously unreported 109-slide proposal filed” with the FARA unit that proposed a “five-year-long ‘Search Beyond’ campaign.”
— “The proposal, which was made in Arabic and professionally translated for POLITICO, illustrates the lengths to which the Saudis have been willing to go to cast off the ‘pariah’ status that President Joe Biden and others gave to them in the wake of the 2018 killing and dismemberment of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. U.S. intelligence has said Saudi’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, approved the murder. Biden visited Saudi Arabia on Friday, during which he met with the crown prince and exchanged a fist bump.”
— Edelman’s pitch to the Saudis would be just the latest vehicle through which the kingdom has sought to improve its international standing — a strategy that has included less of an explicit focus on the nation’s capital. The Saudis have made a splash more recently by funding the professional LIV Golf Series, “which will host events at clubs owned by, among others, former President Donald Trump. The tour was derided as ‘sportswashing,’ or the use of athletics to mend reputation, and raised eyebrows for enticing Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and others to participate with its sizable prizes.”
— On Sunday, families of 9/11 victims urged the former president to cancel a tournament set to take place at his Bedminster, N.J., resort later this month, calling it “incomprehensible … that a former president of the United States would cast our loved ones aside for personal financial gain.”
— Meanwhile, Hailey notes, the Saudis’ sovereign wealth fund, “with others, also purchased the United Kingdom-based soccer team Newcastle United last year, over objections.”
— “It’s not uncommon for firms to help connect influencers and foreign governments. Lawyer and P.R. professional Lanny Davis recalled one foreign government asking for the Clinton White House alum to connect it with his friend and actor, Rob Reiner, who also had ties to Hillary Clinton.” And ahead of the winter Olympics in Beijing earlier this year, China deployed a legion of social media influencers with the help of the consulting firm Vippi Media to promote the games amid human rights controversies.
— “Bryan Lanza, a partner at Mercury and former communications director for President Donald Trump’s transition team, said these kinds of partnerships between governments and celebrities are becoming more and more frequent. ‘You can’t ignore the money,’ Lanza said. ‘Celebrities will make more money pitching a foreign government than making a film these days.’”
Good afternoon and welcome to PI. What’s going on out there? My inbox is wide open for your hot tips, gossip and more: [email protected]. And be sure to follow me on Twitter: @caitlinoprysko.
KEN GROSS LANDS AT AKIN GUMP: Ken Gross, who retired earlier this year after more than three decades advising clients on campaign finance, ethics and lobbying laws at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, has come out of retirement, joining Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld’s public law and policy practice as a senior political law counsel and consultant.
— “I figured if Tom Brady can do it, I can do it,” Gross joked in an interview, noting that even though he kept busy on the boards of a number of D.C. nonprofits following his mandatory retirement from Skadden, “I had watched enough episodes of ‘Law & Order’ in the afternoon” that “I said, ‘You know, I don’t feel like I’m done yet.’” On a more serious note, heading to Akin Gump “just seemed like a good fit for me,” Gross said, adding that he looks forward to helping grow the practice there.
TECHNET GOES ON THE AIR TO BOOST USICA: Tech industry group TechNet has launched a six-figure ad campaign spanning five states to nudge Congress’ China competitiveness legislation over the finish line, even as the Senate prepares to vote on separate subsidies for the semiconductor industry as soon as Tuesday.
— The ads will air on cable TV in West Virginia, Mississippi, Indiana, Ohio and Idaho, and even though the group backs the $52 billion CHIPS Act and a tax credit for domestic chip manufacturers, TechNet President and CEO Linda Moore said today that doing so would be “only the first step in reclaiming America’s global leadership in innovation. More work is left to be done.”
— “Congress must work together to pass other provisions from USICA, including investing in regional technology hubs across the country, enhancing STEM education programs, and attracting and retaining the world’s best and brightest talent,” she said in a statement, urging Congress to act “swiftly” in response to the dwindling amount of floor time remaining for lawmakers this year.
NEW AMAZON BOSS SWITCHES APPROACH TO WASHINGTON: “When Jeff Bezos was chief executive of Amazon, he took an arms-length stance toward the company’s affairs in Washington. He rarely lobbied lawmakers. He testified only once before Congress, under the threat of subpoena. Andy Jassy, Mr. Bezos’ successor, is trying a different approach,” The New York Times’ David McCabe and Karen Weise report.
— “Since becoming Amazon’s chief executive last July, Mr. Jassy, 54, has visited Washington at least three times to traverse Capitol Hill and visit the White House. In September, he met with Ron Klain, President Biden’s chief of staff. He has called Senator Chuck Schumer, the Democratic majority leader, to lobby against antitrust legislation and talked with Senator Tim Kaine, a Democrat from Virginia, about Amazon’s new corporate campus in the state.”
— “Mr. Jassy has engaged more with the scrutiny on Amazon’s broader role as an employer and in society, beyond serving customers, said Matt McIlwain, a managing partner at Seattle’s Madrona Venture Group, which was an early investor in the company.”
— Jassy’s new levels of outreach, though, “may be born of necessity. Political leaders, activists and academics are taking a closer look at Amazon because of its dominance. The company has responded by expanding its lobbying apparatus in Washington, spending $19.3 million on federal lobbying in 2021, compared with $2.2 million a decade earlier, according to OpenSecrets, which tracks influence in Washington.”
WHAT ANTI-ABORTION GROUPS WANT: “A leading anti-abortion rights group is urging Republicans in Congress to stay away from phrases like ‘nationwide ban’ and make clear they won’t criminalize pregnant people’s own actions,” Axios’ Alexi McCammond reports.
— “A memo from SBA Pro-Life America sent to GOP lawmakers last week includes talking points on how to answer ‘hostile’ abortion questions and a plea not to cede the issue to state lawmakers. Anti-abortion activists don’t want Congress to leave the issue entirely to states, given how many are committed to maintaining or strengthening abortion rights.”
— “They also don’t want the most extreme measures by lawmakers in one state or another to cost Republicans key seats nationally, thus limiting them from enacting incremental new restrictions. The memo urges Republicans to rally around ‘the most ambitious legislation that can achieve consensus’ rather than split off on competing bills. It doesn’t recommend specific limits but points lawmakers to polling around combined support for six-week and 15-week restrictions.”
— At the state level, “opponents of abortion rights are looking at the next phase in their campaign to stop people from ending their pregnancies — and they’re targeting the advertising of abortion services,” POLITICO’s Ruth Reader writes. “The National Right to Life Committee is lobbying states to enact legislation it’s drafted that would make it a crime to advertise information about abortion pills or other methods of ending a pregnancy.”
— “The model bill treats abortion like organized crime, by using a combination of civil and criminal penalties in the same way that the 1970 Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act does. The scope is broad and suggests penalizing anyone who even conveys information about the procedure. State lawmakers in Indiana and South Carolina have already shown interest.”
— “Proponents of abortion rights said the First Amendment and a Supreme Court precedent should protect advertisers, but the court’s adherence to precedent is in flux. The lack of clarity could weigh on risk-averse online advertising platforms.”
HAWLEY GOES AFTER CHINA’S CONSULTANTS: “Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) is introducing legislation that would block the Pentagon and other federal agencies from hiring consulting firms like McKinsey that work for both the U.S. government and Chinese government-linked entities,” Daniel reports for Congress Minutes.
— “The new bill, titled ‘The Time to Choose Act,’ directs the federal government to cease any existing and prohibit new contracts with the firms unless they give up contracts with entities that have ties to the Chinese government and also would penalize firms that hide or misrepresent such contracts.”
— “If a firm is caught concealing Chinese contracts that aren’t allowed under the bill, such penalties include paying damages of three times what the U.S. government spent on soliciting and selecting the contracts.”
— Sarah Gilmore has joined the Retail Industry Leaders Association as director of supply chain. She was previously at Airlines for America and is a Crossroads Strategies alum.
— Longtime Center for American Progress fellow Ruy Teixeira has joined AEI as a nonresident senior fellow focused on the evolving American electorate. The think tank also added Christine Rosen as a senior fellow focused on the intersection of tech and culture, Joshua Katz as a senior fellow focusing on higher education and the humanities, and Christopher Scalia as a senior fellow focused on the state of U.S. intellectual and literary culture.
— Tax Foundation President and CEO Scott Hodge will transition to the role of president emeritus and senior policy adviser there, and the organization will launch a search for his successor.
— Josh Britton is joining the American Bankers Association to handle media relations for legislative and regulatory issues. He previously was comms director at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.
— Jessica Shaffer is joining S-3 Group as digital content strategist. She previously served as director of marketing and publicity, of the 673nd Force Support Squadron at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.
— Emily Jones has joined Vizient as regulatory affairs and administration policy director. She was previously a judicial law clerk for Judge Hugh Lawson of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia, and worked for the Georgia Department of Public Health.
— Christopher Buki is joining West Front Strategies as senior vice president. He most recently was at Fresenius Medical Care North America, and is a House GOP alum.
— Leslie Krigstein, formerly of Teladoc, has joined Transcarent as vice president of Government Affairs.
— Former HHS CIO Jose Arrieta will be named as the new chief strategy officer for Dalrada today.
1776 Liberty PAC (Super PAC)
The American Bridge Forward (Super PAC)
BROKER ACTION COALITION PAC (BACPAC) FOR ASSOCIATION OF INDEPENDENT MORTGAGE EXPERTS (PAC)
House of Melanin (Hybrid PAC)
REIGN Waters PAC (PAC)
Roseburg Forest Products Co. Political Action Committee (Roseburg PAC) (PAC)
Aux Initiatives, LLC: Orca Security
Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP: Ambipar Holding USa, Inc.
Cj Lake, LLC: Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Company, LLC
Cozen O’Connor Public Strategies: Post Acute Recovery, Inc. D/B/A Forge Health
Easter Seals Serving Dc|Md|Va, Inc.: Easter Seals Serving Dc|Md|Va, Inc.
Elevate Government Affairs, LLC: Applied Blockchain, Inc.
Elevate Government Affairs, LLC: Joby Aero, Inc.
Elevate Government Affairs, LLC: Ssab Enterprises, LLC
Elevate Government Affairs, LLC: The Hawthorn Group, L.C. On Behalf Of Origis Energy
Harbinger Strategies, LLC: American Exploration & Production Council (Axpc)
Holland & Knight LLP: Quadrant International
King & Spalding LLP: Bethune-Cookman University
King & Spalding LLP: Bethune-Cookman University
Mg Housing Strategies LLC: Housing Advisory Group
Prime Policy Group: Fort Wayne-Allen County Airport Authority
Sakura Conservation Strategies: Chesapeake Conservancy
Stiers LLC: Adranos, Inc.
Stiers LLC: Joseph Milton Real Estate Investments
Stiers LLC: Stephenson Stellar Corporation
The Russell Group, Inc.: Farm Journal, Inc.
The Russell Group, Inc.: Organic Produce Association
Todd Strategy Group: Otsuka America Pharmaceutical, Inc.
Todd Strategy Group: Puerto Rico Department Of Health
Todd Strategy Group: Puerto Rico Financial And Fiscal Authority
Arentfox Schiff LLP: Association Of The German Confectionery Industry
Broadwater International, Inc.: Con Edison Solutions, Inc.
Broadwater International, Inc.: Flir Systems, Inc.
Broadwater International, Inc.: Maritime Tactical Systems, Inc.
Broadwater International, Inc.: Sani Sport
Capitol Counsel LLC: Hq Energy Services (US) Inc.
Capitol Counsel LLC: The Strategic Group
Cassidy & Associates, Inc.: Edeniq
Cassidy & Associates, Inc.: Kinsa, Inc
Cornerstone Government Affairs, Inc.: Bedrock Gas Solutions
Crossroads Strategies, LLC: Dillon Aero, Inc.
Crossroads Strategies, LLC: Eaves Law Firm, LLC Obo Vieques, Puerto Rico
Crossroads Strategies, LLC: National Electrical Contractors Association (Neca)
Dentons US LLP: App Coalition
Dentons US LLP: Booking.Com B.V.
Dentons US LLP: Digital Content Next
Dentons US LLP: Infosys Limited
Dentons US LLP: Perry Street Software, Inc.
Dentons US LLP: Small Uav Coalition
Dentons US LLP: Supernal (Formerly Known As Genesis Air Mobility)
Dentons US LLP: Vivid Seats, LLC
Forbes-Tate: Adapt Pharma Inc.
Forbes-Tate: Spero Therapeutics, Inc.
Forbes-Tate: Target Corporation
Forbes-Tate: Uber Technologies, Inc.
Greenberg Traurig, LLP: Mechanical Contractors Association Of America
Greenberg Traurig, LLP: Otg Management, LLC
Hannegan Landau Poersch & Rosenbaum Advocacy, LLC: Pl+US: Paid Leave For The United States
Hannegan Landau Poersch & Rosenbaum Advocacy, LLC: Prosegur Security USa
Hogan Lovells US LLP: Asset Marketing Services, LLC.
Hogan Lovells US LLP: Momentus, Inc.
Hogan Lovells US LLP: Msd Capital, L.P.
Holland & Knight LLP: Agnc Investment Corp.
Holland & Knight LLP: Caliburn Holdings, LLC
Hollis Public Affairs: Polaris Government Relations (For Jamestown Ots, Lp)
Indianapolis Power & Light Company: Indianapolis Power & Light Company
King & Spalding LLP: Bethune-Cookman University
K&L Gates, LLP: Calvert Ventures, LLC
K&L Gates, LLP: Immunome Inc.
K&L Gates, LLP: Sunshine Silver Mining & Refining Corporation
K&L Gates, LLP: Vitalant
Manatos & Manatos: Peter Palivos
Mcguirewoods Consulting (A Subsidiary Of Mcguirewoods LLP): Bellus Academy
National Group, LLP: Canisius College
Nvg, LLC: The Immigration Hub
Olsson, Frank, Weeda, Terman & Matz, Pc: International Fresh Produce Association
Powers Pyles Sutter & Verville, P.C.: American Psychoanalytic Assn
Sonosky, Chambers, Sachse, Endreson & Perry, LLP: Manzanita Band Of Diegueno Mission Indians
Squire Patton Boggs: Association Of American Medical Colleges
Squire Patton Boggs: Madison Marquette Realty Services L.P.
Squire Patton Boggs: Xavier University School Of Medicine
The Aegis Group, Ltd.: City Of Midland, Texas
The Normandy Group, LLC: Simma International, LLC
Tremont Strategies Group LLC: Boston Health Care For The Homeless Program