As events continue to unfold in the streets of Egypt, here in Washington the government of Egypt has a team of high-powered lobbyists ready to deal with the unfolding United States response. Numerous reports emerged on Friday about the three lobbying firms, The Livingston Group, The Podesta Group, and The Moffett Group, that operate as the PLM Group, the registered umbrella group lobbying on behalf of Egypt.
These three firms are all headed by powerful political players former House Republican Majority Leader Bob Livingston, longtime Democratic campaign advisor Tony Podesta, and former Democratic congressman Toby Moffett.
The most recent reports were filed in July of 2010. Being registered foreign agents, Egypt’s lobbyists are required to file as foreign agents, which means that they must disclose their contacts with government and NGO officials.
Below I have compiled a Socrata database for all contacts reported by the three firms from January to July of 2010:
The three lobbying firms reported 366 contacts with government officials, lawmakers, congressional staff, military officials, and non-governmental organizations. The vast majority of those contacts were made with lawmakers and their staff. Lobbyists made sixty-nine contacts with sixty-one members of Congress and 179 contacts with 141 different congressional staffers.
The Livingston Group carried the heaviest lobbying load for the government of Egypt, including leading an Egyptian military delegation to over 100 meetings on Capitol Hill. Lobbyists for The Livingston Group, including the former congressman himself, brought the military delegation to 147 meetings with members of Congress and their staff meet. In those April, 2010 meetings, the delegation received meetings with forty-five members of Congress and 102 congressional staffers.
The military delegation included officials close to the Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, who is rumored to have discussed with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak plans for Mubarak to leave the presidency. The delegation was headed by Major General Mohamed Said Elassar, Assistant to the Minister of Defense, and also included Major General Ahmed El Moataz Bellah Mahmoud Hedyat, Chief, Egyptian-American Relations Branch; Major General Mohamed A. Elkeshky, Defense, Military, Naval and Air Attaché at the Embassy of the Arab Republic of Egypt in Washington, D.C.; and Major General Wael Rabiaa, Information Officer for the Ministry of Defense.
The majority of the contacts made by Podesta and Moffett lobbyists were concerned with inviting members of Congress to an official dinner at the Egyptian Embassy.
Prior to the Egyptian military delegation’s trip to Washington, Rep. Frank Wolf and seventeen other lawmakers sent a letter to Ambassador-at-Large Luis CdeBaca, who leads efforts to combat human trafficking, to take action to protect Egypt’s Coptic Christian population, particularly women, who reports claim were being kidnapped and forced into marriage resulting in rape and violence. In May, 2010, Livingston brought the Egyptian Ambassador to meet with Wolf privately.
Many of the meetings with lawmakers were with lawmakers with seats on powerful committees including the panel in charge of foreign aid spending. Lobbyists contacted six of the fourteen members of the Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations Appropriations including both the then-chair, Rep. Nita Lowey, and ranking member, Rep. Kay Granger.