Top Foreign Governments Seeking to Influence Washington

Friday, May 09, 2014

Governments with close ties to Washington spent more money last year to lobby Congress and the Obama administration than other foreign capitals.


Foreign spenders seeking to influence U.S. policymaking were led by the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which doled $14 million on American lobbying firms to push the oil sheikdom’s priorities and concerns with lawmakers and administration officials, according to the Sunlight Foundation, a nonprofit government watchdog group.


Disclosure forms filed by lobbyists showed the UAE wanted help with “illicit finance issues” and “a pre-clearance customs facility,” the foundation reported.


The other top spenders after the UAE were all American allies: Germany, Canada, Saudi Arabia and Mexico.


Most of the German lobbying ($12 million) was on behalf of Deutsche Telekom AG, the telecommunications giant that owns U.S. cell phone provider T-Mobile.


Canada’s lobbying ($11.2 million) included discussions with lawmakers about America’s oil ties with Venezuela and Saudi Arabia—whom Ottawa would just as soon push aside and replace those countries oil exports to the U.S. with Canadian tar sands oil via the Keystone XL pipeline.


The remaining top 10 after Mexico included governments like Serbia, Georgia and Azerbaijan.


Most of the disclosure forms for Serbia (or “Republika Srpska”) gave little indication what the lobbying was for, with reference only to “discussion about activities of RS office.” That is the Republika Srpska Office for Cooperation, Trade and Investment, one of the country’s three foreign lobbying groups.


Same goes for Georgia, which sought to discuss “U.S.-Georgia relations.” In the wake of Russia’s actions in Ukraine, there have been rumors of Washington advocating for Georgia to join the NATO alliance.


Much farther down on the list were China (21st place), Ukraine (36th), Russia (41st), Iran (53rd), Syria (60th), and Israel, which is second from the bottom at 84th place.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

What Countries Spent the Most to Influence the USA in 2013 (by Lindsay Young, Sunlight Foundation)

2013 Location Lobbying Totals (Sunlight Foundation)

Foreigners Avoid Restrictions on U.S. Campaign Donations by Donating Through Trade Associations (by Matt Bewig, AllGov)


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