US Records Detail Bermuda’s Lobbying
Bernews.com, 3 December 2010
Bermuda’s Government spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on Washington lobbyists in 2009, according to newly released records.
The records show a flurry of activity on Bermuda’s behalf by Washington lobbyist Public Private Partnerships in the weeks before and after the release of four Uighur prisoners from the US detention centre at Guantanamo Bay and their resettlement in Bermuda on June 11, 2009 — including payment for two emails sent to US President Barack Obama, one dispatched to the Oval Office two days after the men arrived here.
As the ongoing release of internal US State Department cables by WikiLeaks continues, the lobbying documents are now publically available, as disclosure is required by the US Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).
The Sunlight Foundation Reporting Group, thanks to a grant from ProPublica.org, has digitised the FARA filings and made them searchable.
According to the Sunlight Foundation:
Filings under the Foreign Agent Registration Act provide far more detail on how lobbyists interact with government officials than those required by the Lobbying Disclosure Act; they contain information on efforts by foreign governments and organizations to influence U.S. policy on trade, taxation, foreign aid, appropriations, human rights and national security.
Newly released records for 2009 show that betwen May 14 and June 17 lobbyist Public Private Partnerships was in contact with senior White House officials no less than 18 times on issues involving “bilateral relations” between the US and Bermuda. The Washington firm was paid more than $100,000 for its work on Bermuda’s behalf in 2009.
Founded in 1989, Public Private Partnerships describes itself as an “independent strategic planning and political consulting firm. We provide strategic advice to multinational corporations, political campaigns, political parties, elected leaders, nonprofit and government organisations, and issue groups.”
“Our team and strategic partners have a wealth of public and private relationships that are engaged to support the personal and business interest of our clients,” says a company statement. “These relationships are built upon decades of business, political and community involvement. From one end of Pennsylvania Avenue to the other, we communicate with key policy and decision makers on an ongoing basis to secure useful intelligence in support of our client’s overall business strategies. As relevant government decisions are being made, our outreach efforts yield sharper insights as to what may be happening or what has to happen to ensure successful client driven outcomes.
Company founder Art Collins served as a senior political strategist for President Barack Obama during the 2008 Presidential primary and general election campaign. He subsequently served as a Public Liaison within the Obama-Biden Transition Project following that election.
The newly released records show Public Private Partnerships also lobbied US Congressmen and other Washington officials on other matters on Bermuda’s behalf in 2009 along with two other firms, Darlene Richeson & Associates and Levine & Co.
Congressmen listed include Charles Rangel (D-NY), Kendrick Meek (D-FL), Joseph Crowley (D-NY), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Elijah Cummings (D-MD), Diane Watson (D-CA), Maxine Waters (D-CA), Paul Kanjorski (D-PA) and G.K. Butterfield (D-NC).
Bermuda is far from alone, with the records showing hundreds of foreign entities and countries having paid lobbyists in Washington. The newly released data for 2009 shows among the countries spending the most on lobbying was the Cayman Islands, home to about 55,000 people, which spent $7.9 million on issues relating to tourism and economics.