FARA Reports Shine Light on Dubai Dealings


My colleague Anupama Naranswamy writes at the Real Time Investigations blog about the lobbying campaign waged by Dubai businesses in their efforts in 2006 to both purchase the operations of numerous ports and fight off a wave of public anger against the foreign ownership of those ports. Most illuminating in the story is how Foreign Agent Registration Agency (FARA) reports, the lobbying disclosure forms required for all foreign lobbyists, allow for a muckraker to follow the lobbying trail.

By using disclosures required under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, which require firms lobbying for foreign political parties, governments and government owned organizations—including for-profit companies—to list their meetings with government officials, it is possible to trace part of the campaign to win approval for the deal. The Sunlight Foundation released a prototype database with records from lobbyists for 15 countries, which was used in this report.

FARA records show that Glover Park Group was active early. Lobbyists from the firm first met with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s national security adviser, then with staffers from the House Intelligence Committee. Lobbyists working on behalf of DAE also made early contacts with Rep. Peter King, R-NY. Both Pelosi and King had opposed the Dubai Ports deal.

At least another seven contacts were made during March with the offices of Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., and Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., both of whom questioned the DP World ports deal. In all, the Glover Park Group made contacts at least 18 times during the month of March.

Lobbyists for DAE began seeking the support of members of Congress in March 2007—before a formal deal to purchase the two aviation firms hammered out. The company was joined in its efforts by the Carlyle Group and trade groups including the U.S.-U.A.E. Business Council and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Overall, DAE spent $780,000 on lobbyists between February 2007 and August 2008.

Read the whole article here.