Update: See our subsequent story that details how much money Saudi Arabia ended up paying to these and other Qorvis-affiliated firms and individuals. In many cases, the amounts are far higher than indicated below.
How much would Saudi lobbyists have to pay you to help undermine a new law that enables 9/11 families and survivors to present evidence against the kingdom for its alleged assistance to the 9/11 hijackers?
According to filings with the Department of Justice mandated by the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), some of your fellow citizens have done so for as little as $5,000; others are cashing in on a much bigger scale. They’ll say they’re doing it for different, baseless reasons, but there’s no doubting the aim of their faraway masters.
The September enactment of the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA) was a resounding defeat for Saudi Arabia and its lobbyists in Washington. Undaunted, the kingdom and its fellow travelers in and out of the United States government immediately launched a coordinated assault on the new law.
Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham—who have urged colleagues to amend JASTA—represent only the legislative tip of the Saudi spear. Far less conspicuous is a formidable array of U.S. lobbying firms assembled by the kingdom.
McClatchyDC’s James Rosen reported last week that the armada now spans at least 17 firms—including heavy-hitters Qorvis MSLGROUP, Brownstein Hyatt and Squire Patton Boggs—collectively billing the kingdom more than $1 million every month. Many of these firms, in turn, hire additional companies and influential individuals to help carry out the kingdom’s wishes.
October Buying Spree
Two weeks after JASTA’s passage—in a stark illustration of Saudi Arabia’s determination to kill the nascent JASTA in its infancy—Qorvis went on an influence acquisition spree. In little over a month, the firm engaged approximately 70 third-party individuals to work on behalf of Saudi Arabia. By contrast, there were only five comparable registrations in all of 2015.
28Pages.org has scoured these registrations; in the spirit of transparency that inspired the law that mandates them, we present something of a who’s who among Americans aiding the kingdom in its effort to keep 9/11 families and survivors at bay.
Cataloguing scores of lobbyists, public relations professionals and other individuals engaged throughout the United States, this directory gives just a hint of the full breadth of Saudi Arabia’s anti-JASTA effort. Qorvis is, after all, just one of 17 firms employed by the kingdom.
- Some of the agents with the lowest profiles on the internet have received some of the biggest payouts: For example, who are you, Mr/Ms Jody Tedford of Seattle, and what are you doing to earn $36,000?
- Three firms appear to be playing a particularly large subsidiary role in working against JASTA: LS2group of Des Moines, Duane Morris Government Strategies in Pittsburgh, and Vectre Corporation in Richmond.
- It’s no surprise to see former government officials in the mix—but there’s even a current one—in the Nevada state assembly. The state chair of the South Dakota GOP also signed on.
- Names link to agents’ FARA registration forms, which must be filed within 10 days of agreeing to work on behalf of a foreign government.
- Agents connected to the breaking scandal involving the use of military veterans to lobby against JASTA—without telling them who’s behind the effort—appear in red.
- If disclosed on the FARA form, we share their compensation for Saudi work.
- We list business associations where we could identify them; keep in mind those businesses may not be involved in the Saudi undertaking.
- Send corrections or additional information to firstname.lastname@example.org.
District of Columbia
Kathleen Summers-Grice, Washington, DC; Manchester, Maine; Boston. Acadia LLC. Public affairs and political consultant; former George W. Bush appointee to the U.S. Department of Labor.
On October 9, Summers-Grice signed her FARA form, notifying the DoJ that she would be working on behalf of a kingdom known for arbitrary arrests of dissidents, flogging of journalists, systematic discrimination against religious minorities, maltreatment of women, public beheadings, and a merciless war on Yemen that features the use of banned munitions, a wanton disregard for civilian life and a blockade inflicting a humanitarian disaster.
Nineteen days later, via Twitter, Summers-Grice made a noble proclamation of her values.
Eric Eisenhammer, Roseville. Dauntless Communications. Daily Caller reported that Eisenhammer’s firm set up a booth at a Reno gun show in January that was used to recruit veterans and others to oppose JASTA, to include asking about their willingness to travel to Washington.
Shelbi Lewark, Denver. Per her Twitter account, vice-chair of the Denver GOP. Emails obtained by 28Pages.org, indicate that Lewark has helped Jason Johns (see Wisconsin) organize veterans lobbying trips.
James Miller, Sarasota. Identity unknown. Compensation: $12,000.
Jeffrey Dixon, Chicago. Identity unknown.
Charles W. Larson, Jr, Des Moines. LS2group. Former ambassador to Latvia in the George W. Bush administration, former state senator and representative. Army Reserve veteran. His father was director of law enforcement for Saudi Arabia’s “highway patrol project.”
Tyler Gregory Campbell, Des Moines. LS2group. Campbell helped coordinate the participation of veteran Tim Cord in lobbying on Capitol Hill for changes to JASTA without knowledge of Saudi sponsorship of his travel. See our exclusive report.
Kevin G. Yowell, Overland Park. Identity unknown. Compensation: $12,000.
Kathleen Summers-Grice, see District of Columbia.
Holly Robichaud, Scituate. Boston Herald blogger and owner of political consulting firm Tuesday Associates. Compensation: $12,000.
Kathleen Summers-Grice, see District of Columbia.
Andrew Michael Zabel, Saint Paul. Identity unknown.
Stacie O. Sharp, Jackson. Identity unknown.
Shannon Bilbray-Axelrod, Las Vegas. Bilbray-Axelrod signed her FARA form on October 14, just 25 days before being elected to the Nevada state assembly. She is associated with consulting firm Organized Karma. UPDATE: After the Las Vegas Review-Journal followed our reporting, Bilbray-Axelrod resigned from Organized Karma. Assemblyman Jim Wheeler initially said he was considering filing a formal ethics complaint, but then announced he would not “at this time.”
David Miner, Cary. Former representative in the North Carolina legislature. Compensation: $30,000.
John Farno, Minster, Ohio. Identity unknown.
William D. Horton, Austin. Identity unknown.
Christopher West, Alexandria. Identity unknown. Compensation: $30,000
Jody Tedford, Seattle. Identity unknown. Compensation: $36,000.
Jason Johns, Madison. National Senior Vice Commander, Military Order of the Purple Heart and proprietor of NMLB Veterans Advocacy Group in Madison, Wisconsin. Fee: $100,000.
Johns is at the heart of a scheme by which large groups of veterans—motivated by a false description of JASTA—are flown to Washington to lobby against the law; veterans who have participated told 28Pages.org that Saudi Arabia’s role is not being disclosed.
Names in red are linked to the veterans lobbying scandal.
28Pages.org is dedicated to accuracy—if you find an error or wish to provide additional information, contact us: email@example.com.
Brian McGlinchey is the founder and director of 28Pages.org.