As dispute heats up, Renco continues lobbying for its Peruvian smelter

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The U.S. mining conglomerate Renco Group spent over $80,000 in the first quarter and retained five lobbying firms in a push to convince Washington to help its embattled smelting company in Peru, according to lobbying filings. This comes after the company spent $245,000 on fees to outside lobbyists to work on the issue of Doe Run Peru in the final two months of last year.

Meanwhile, this month Renco initiated arbitration against Peru, and in its notice to commence proceedings in December, it asked for no less than $800 million in damages for what it alleges are violations of the U.S.-Peru Free Trade Agreement, including unfairly discriminating against the company. 

Dena Battle of the firm Capitol Counsel is the newest lobbyist to join the effort. She was formerly the legislative director to chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., whom she advised on tax and trade matters, according to her bio, and whose Ways and Means Committee has jurisdiction over international trade issues. Capitol Counsel’s team also includes former ranking member of the committee-turned lobbyist Jim McCrery.

In January, the lobbying campaign bore some fruit when at least two members of Congress wrote to executive agencies expressing their concern with the Peruvian government’s treatment of Doe Run Peru back in January, and one of them, Rep. Donald Payne, D-N.J., spoke on the issue on the floor of the House.

It is not known if any senators have come to the company’s aide. In the quarterly report, most of the lobbyists disclosed lobbying both chambers of Congress. John Raffaelli, a veteran lobbyist and former Senate staffer, specifically targeted the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for help, he said in an interview in March.

“I don’t think the Senate side did anything other than make some inquires to make…sure that the company is being treated consistently with our agreements,” he said, referring to the U.S. trade pact with Peru.

Renco has claimed that Lima has violated the trade pact and discriminated against the company. The complicated dispute between the Peruvian government and Doe Run Peru has the company in bankruptcy proceedings, where its creditors will decide whether to liquidate or restructure it. Environmental advocates have accused Doe Run Peru of degrading the town of La Oroya and not complying with its environmental obligations and have opposed the company's lobbying efforts.

Under the issue section of their quarterly forms, banking lobbyist Palmer Hamilton and Capitol Counsel’s four-person team both wrote “protection of private U.S. investments in Peru from expropriation.”

Mayer Brown LLP’s Tim Keeler, a former chief of staff in the office of the U.S. Trade Representative, also lobbied his former office. On his report he summarized his role as “advising on interaction with the Government of the Republic of Peru regarding legal obligations and acknowledgement of full liability of injury claims.”

In the quarter, Capitol Counsel, Monument Strategies, Jones Walker and Royer & Brooks took in $20,000 each from Renco Group, while Mayer Brown was paid less than $5,000, according to the reports.