DOJ Fails to Pursue Allegations of Saudi Lobbying Misconduct

U.S. military veterans say Qorvis Communications tricked them into unknowingly lobbying on behalf of Saudi Arabia

Campaign against law enabling 9/11 victims to sue kingdom used unregistered agents, failed to provide required disclosures

By Brian P. McGlinchey

In March 2017, a group of 9/11 families presented the Department of Justice with 17 pages of detailed allegations that Qorvis Communications had, on behalf of Saudi Arabia, conducted a lobbying campaign against the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA) characterized by extensive violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). Continue reading

Saudis, Ex-Spies and a DC Socialite: Highlights From Lobbying Firm’s Report to DOJ

Figure in vet lobbying scandal returns to collect another $79,000; Qorvis rubs elbows with secretive opposition research firm

By Brian P. McGlinchey

Lobbying and public relations firm Qorvis MSLGROUP has filed its latest semiannual disclosure forms with the Department of Justice’s Foreign Agent Registration Act office, covering the period from October 1, 2017 to March 31, 2018.

Qorvis plays a central role in the expansive Saudi effort to influence not only U.S. foreign policy and public opinion, but even the American judicial system. Here are some points of interest from the new filing, which Continue reading

Syracuse NatSec Director Shifts Story on His Work for Saudis

New DOJ filing reveals Bill Smullen, former chief of staff to Colin Powell, was late in registering with DOJ as a foreign agent

In June, director of Syracuse national security program said he had yet to work for Saudi Arabia—now he says he did so in March

By Brian P. McGlinchey

Bill Smullen

The director of a national security studies program at Syracuse University has given conflicting statements about his work for the Saudi embassy in Washington.

In June, 28Pages.org reported that Bill Smullen had registered with the Department of Justice as an agent of the kingdom for purposes of providing public relations support.

Interviewed last month about the seeming conflict of interest with his duties at Syracuse, where he leads instruction of U.S. national security officials, Smullen repeatedly asserted he Continue reading

Document Exposes Inconsistent Disclosure of Saudi Hand in Campaign Against JASTA

Flyer filed with DOJ included required disclosure of Saudi sponsorship; version presented to military veterans did not

By Brian P. McGlinchey

28Pages.org has uncovered a striking example of lobbyists’ selective disclosure of Saudi Arabia’s sponsorship of their work against a law that enables 9/11 victims to sue the kingdom for its alleged support of the al Qaeda hijackers.

Specifically, lobbyists used two versions of a flyer that criticized the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA): An early version filed with the Department of Justice included a required disclosure of Saudi Arabia’s sponsorship; a version later presented to military veterans did not. Continue reading

Vet Says Iowa Official Used Deceit to Recruit Him to Lobby in Saudi Drive Against 9/11 Law

Veteran’s claim: Connie Schmett recruited him to lobby for changes to JASTA, but didn’t disclose Saudi sponsorship of the effort

A gubernatorial appointee to two state boards, Schmett’s endorsement is sought by national presidential candidates

Schmett registered with the DOJ as an agent of the kingdom; Schmett & Associates received $101,500 for services rendered

By Brian P. McGlinchey

Connie Schmett (Facebook photo)

Connie Schmett, a notable figure in Iowa GOP politics and an appointee to two state government boards, recruited a military veteran to travel to Washington to lobby for changes to the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA)—and he says she withheld the fact that Saudi Arabia was behind the campaign.

In October 2016, Schmett and her husband, Kim, registered with the Department of Justice as agents of the Saudi government working for changes to JASTA under the supervision of lobbying firm Qorvis MSLGROUP. According to a Qorvis disclosure filing, Schmett & Associates received $101,500 for service to the kingdom. Continue reading