Egypt’s Lobbyists Worked To Block Pro-Human Rights, Democracy Resolution

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New disclosures filed in the past few weeks by Egypt’s lobbying team in Washington shine a light on the activity the country took last summer and fall to block the discussion and passage of a resolution calling on the United States to support human rights in Egypt and demand an end to the emergency law, two key demands of the protesters who, last week, toppled former President Hosni Mubarak.

While only two of the three lobbying firms working for Egypt have filed their reports for the second half of 2010, the pattern of contacts reported so far shows a high level attention paid to the Senate Resolution (S. Res. 586) introduced by Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) on July 20. Seventy-seven of the 129 lobbying contacts made by The Livingston Group and The Podesta Group were to senators. Fifty-two of these contacts explicitly mention the Resolution, while many more contacts are undoubtedly related.

See the updated database of lobbying contacts by Egypt’s Washington lobbyists below (see the original database and post here.)

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The most contacted Senate office was that of Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS). In an article in Foreign Policy, Wicker was implicated as the chief actor in blocking movement of the Feingold Resolution.

An aide to Wicker confirmed to The Cable that Wicker did in fact talk with Livingston about the resolution, but the aide said that Wicker was simply doing his due diligence to make sure the resolution was not pushed through hastily.

“Senator Wicker’s main goal was to make sure the resolution was worded in a way to make sure the resolution was productive and to make sure that Egypt was recognized as an ally and a partner,” the aide said.

According to the report filed by The Livingston Group Wicker did not simply talk with Livingston about the Resolution, he was the lobbying firm’s chief contact on Capitol Hill on the Resolution. Livingston Group lobbyists contacted Wicker’s office twenty times after the Resolution was introduced. Seventeen of those contacts listed the Resolution as the reason for the contact.

Twenty other Senate offices were contacted over this period, largely in regards to the Feingold Resolution. The second most contacted office was that of Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA). Isakson’s office was contacted ten times by Livingston Group lobbyists.

Supporters of the Resolution were contacted thirteen times by lobbyists from The Podesta Group.

The Foreign Policy article mentioned above includes speculation about other senators who successfully worked to block passage of the Resolution. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) is noted to have “had concerns about the resolution’s effect on the U.S. relationship with the Mubarak regime and worried that it would jeopardize U.S.-Egyptian cooperation on a range of sensitive national security issues.” Podesta Group lobbyists contacted her office three times during the post-midterm lame duck session when a pared down version of the Resolution was making the rounds.

The article also notes that the lame duck effort to pass the Resolution ended after two Democratic senators placed a secret hold on it to block discussion. While Feinstein denies placing the final secret hold, she was one of only two Democrats contacted by Podesta Group lobbyists who had not cosponsored the Resolution during the lame duck. The other Democrat being Majority Leader Harry Reid, who was contacted twice after the midterm election.

There are likely other Democratic senators who were contacted by Egypt’s lobbyists during the campaign to block the Feingold Resolution. The Moffett Group, a Democratic connected lobbying firm, has yet to release their final disclosure report for 2010. Upon receipt of the Moffett report, there may be more clarity to the senators behind the blocking of the Feingold Resolution.

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