New Iraq FARA filings


The day after President Bush vetoed the 2008 Defense Appropriations Act, mainly because he objected to a section relating to Iraq, a little known New Jersey law firm filed lobbying disclosure forms on behalf of the Iraqi government requesting …Presidential action to preclude Section 1083 from becoming law as to Iraq,” documents show. The firm, Maggs & McDermott LLC, filed registration forms with the Department of Justice under the Foreign Agents Registration Act on Dec. 29, 2007.

The new Iraqi government was afraid that those harmed by the previous regime, including prisoners of war from the first Gulf War or people affected by acts committed during Saddam Hussein’s rule, would seek compensation by suing Iraq, seeking assets currently in the United Sates. The government of Iraq raised objections to Section 1083 of the bill, which strengthened the ability of victims of the brutality of Saddam Hussein to seek compensation,” according to a statement put out by the Speaker’s office. Later in January, Congress introduced new language that waived the applicability of this section for Iraq under the assumption that it would promote Iraqi reconstruction and continue the democratic process in Iraq.

The lobbyist filing the FARA disclosure was a Maggs & McDermott partner, Timothy B. Mills, who has been with the firm since February 2006.The nondescript firm in Brielle, NJ, has been in business since November 2002 and had been known as DiCroce & Maggs LLC before then. No one from the firm had ever registered to lobby before, either with the state of New Jersey or the U.S. Congress. Their first lobbying job was to represent the Iraqi government on an all important section of the defense bill.

Maggs & McDermott doesn’t even have its own Web site, but in an e-mail exchange Mills wrote that the firm’s areas of operations included, foreign sovereign defense of claims made in U.S. courts by private plaintiffs; international disputes; public contract law disputes and Privacy Act litigation.” The e-mail also said that Mills had represented the Government of Iraq in Foreign Sovereign Immunities litigation since June 2004. Maggs & McDermott started their D.C. operations after Mills joined their firm a year ago, heading their DC offices.

Before working with Maggs & McDermott, Mills was a partner at the prominent Washington, D.C. lobbying firm, Patton Boggs. According to court documents, Mills has been lead counsel or co-counsel on at least three civil litigation cases since 2002 filed with federal courts in Washington, D.C. Mills is also the President of the American Chamber of Commerce in Iraq and was on the team of counsel representing the Bush-Cheney campaign during the 2000 Florida recount, according to this profile on the Republican National lawyers Association website.

But what’s unclear is why Mills made the move from Patton Boggs to a non-descript New Jersey firm with no history of taking on crucial international cases and no history of lobbying. Mills declined to comment on his decision to move to the smaller firm.

The FARA disclosure forms state that the point of contact in Iraq is the National Security Advisor for the Government of Iraq. In the section describing all political activities, the forms states, communications with members of the Executive and Legislative Branches of the U.S. Government to urge non-implementation as to Iraq of the amendments to the U.S. Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act…”

Under FARA regulations, a lobbyist representing any foreign country and some foreign government-sponsored entities must disclose various meeting, phone calls and other communication as part of the disclosure. Those disclosures for this particular lobbying effort are not available yet, since they have to be disclosed only after six months after the initial registration (linked above) is filed with the FARA office in the Department of Justice.