Qorvis Always Ready to Lobby for Dictators
Thursday, March 01, 2012
Michael Petruzzello, CEO of Qorvis
Qorvis, one of Washington, DC’s top lobbying and public relations firms, has continued to help one of its most controversial clients improve its image with American leaders.
Since signing a $40,000-a-month contract with the government of Bahrain, the firm has developed strategies for reshaping the perceptions of the oil-rich country and its battles with pro-democracy critics. Bahrain has been ruled since 1783 by the Al Khalifa family. The current monarch, King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, has been in power since 1999.
In addition to being a loyal oil ally, Bahrain’s ruling family has allowed the United States Fifth Fleet to be based in their country, providing the U.S. Navy with an optimal location in the strategically-vital Persian Gulf region. Last September the Obama administration sold $54 million worth of weapons to the Al Khalifas despite their lethal crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators. The main contractors who benefited from the sale were AM General and Raytheon.
A few weeks ago, Qorvis arranged for three young Bahrainis to visit Washington and talk about reform—while also criticizing the opposition movement and complaining about negative media coverage in the U.S.
The firm also has defended the government’s raid last year on a Doctors Without Borders office in Bahrain, and helped produce pro-regime stories for The Huffington Post.
In addition to representing Bahrain, Qorvis clients have included the dictators of Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Equatorial Guinea.
Taking on dictatorial governments as clients has cost the firm many of its top employees. During 2011, more than a third of Qorvis’ partners left the firm to start their own businesses, in part because of decisions to assist controversial regimes.
-Noel Brinkerhoff, David Wallechinsky
To Learn More:
Bahraini ‘Reformers’ in Washington, Courtesy of American Spinmeisters (by Justin Elliott, ProPublica)
PR Mercenaries, Their Dictator Masters, and the Human Rights Stain (by Thor Halvorssen, Huffington Post)
Why is Obama Selling Weapons to the King of Bahrain While He’s Attacking Pro-Democracy Protestors? (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)
Lobbyists Jump Ship In Wake Of Mideast Unrest (by Marcus Baram, Huffington Post)
Two PR Firms Pitch Bahrain Dictator to U.S. Public (by Noel Brinkerhoff and David Wallechinsky, AllGov)
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