With Daniel Lippman
UKRAINIAN U.N. AMBASSADOR DENIES ADDING PR HELP: In Wednesday’s newsletter, we reported that Sergiy Kyslytsya, Ukraine’s ambassador to the United Nations, had accepted speechwriting support from the crisis communications and political consulting firm SKDKnickerbocker. In a Facebook post Wednesday morning, however, Kyslytsya denied that he or his staff had hired or solicited PR or lobbying help amid a flood of outreach since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last week. Kyslytsya wrote that while the mission appreciated “the wave of offers to help us … from the bottom of our hearts,” his team “has never hired or approached any PR or lobbyists either in the US or abroad.”
— The post came after SKDK filed documents with the Justice Department earlier in the week disclosing that Stephen Krupin, a former senior speechwriter to former President Barack Obama who’s now SKDK’s managing director and head of executive communications, “agreed to provide, on a pro-bono basis, speech writing support in connection with the foreign principal’s remarks to the United Nations Security Council and General Assembly.”
— Kyslytsya has made headlines for a series of emotional speeches about the Russian invasion, but in his Facebook post he wrote, in English, that “all possible claims that we have received guidance from others than my Government are untrue and misleading.” He added that his staff has declined such solicitations when they do come in “because we are fit to do our job ourselves.”
— “We research and write our papers ourselves. Guided by President [Volodymyr] Zelenskyy and Minister [Dmytro] Kuleba,” he continued. “And Even if occasionally English isn’t perfect, it’s what and how our hearts speak.” SKDK did not provide a comment on the record.
QORVIS PARTS WAYS WITH RUSSIAN OLIGARCHS: Qorvis Communications filed termination paperwork today ending the firm’s lobbying work with Russian oligarchs Alexander Skorobogatko and Alexander Ponomarenko, both of whom the firm has represented since 2018. Ponomarenko, the board chair of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport, was among the Russian billionaires tied to President Vladimir Putin to be hit with sanctions by the EU earlier this week, and both men were named in a 2018 U.S. Treasury report on Russian oligarchs shortly before they first retained Qorvis’ Matthew Lauer and Grace Fenstermaker.
— The termination came days after President Joe Biden pledged in his State of the Union address to squeeze Russian billionaires in an effort to further isolate Putin. On Wednesday, the Justice Department unveiled its “Task Force KleptoCapture,” and this afternoon the White House announced new crackdowns on wealthy Russian elites.
— Lobbying disclosures show Qorvis was paid $100,000 for its work for the Russian business partners in 2021, which the disclosures show included lobbying on sanctions legislation. That’s down from the $280,000 it was paid during the first year it represented Skorobogatko and Ponomarenko.
Good afternoon and welcome to PI. Have a lobbying tip? Get in touch: [email protected]. And be sure to follow me on Twitter: @caitlinoprysko.
S-3 ADDS FORMER SCALISE AIDE: Marty Reiser is joining S-3 Group as a principal on the government relations team, where he will help build out a tax and health care practice for the firm, in addition to potential work with financial services clients. Reiser was most recently U.S. and Canada chair at Edelman, and before that spent seven years as a staffer for House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.). He also spent time on the GOP staff of the House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee.
CORPORATE CONSULTANTS DROP RUSSIA CLIENTS: “Accenture axed its entire 2,300-person business in Russia on Thursday while McKinsey and Boston Consulting Group moved to suspend all client work there, as the world’s largest professional services groups join western companies’ flight from the country,” Financial Times’ Michael O’Dwyer and Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson report.
— “Days after Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, McKinsey and BCG had said they would not work for Russian government entities but had stopped short of dropping other clients, including state-owned groups. McKinsey said on Thursday it would immediately cease work for state-owned entities in the country and would suspend all client work there once its other projects ended. The firm has more than 400 consultants in Russia.”
— “BCG, which also employs about 400 people in the country, said on Thursday it was suspending its work with Russian clients but would keep staff based there on. They would be offered the chance to relocate outside Russia or to work on internal projects or for non-Russian clients, said one person briefed on the matter.”
CLEGG MOVES TO STAFF UP ACROSS THE POND: “Facebook has launched a hiring spree for lobbyists and lawyers as it prepares for a host of regulatory battles across Europe,” our Europe colleague Eleni Courea reports. “Meta, the owner of Facebook, published a slate of job openings for policy and legal experts in London in recent weeks. It comes as the U.K. puts the finishing touches on its long-awaited Online Safety Bill and as Britain’s regulators flex their muscles post-Brexit. At the same time, Brussels is mulling its own wide-ranging content regulations in the form of a Digital Services Act, with France keen to make speedy progress.”
— “The prospective hires will beef up the lobbying team led by former U.K. Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, who was promoted to president of global affairs at the social media giant last month, a role with equivalent seniority to Meta boss Mark Zuckerberg. The company has already hired Monica Thurmond Allen, who worked as Clegg’s special adviser on foreign policy for three years in Downing Street. She started as a director of public policy in the U.K. earlier this month, according to her LinkedIn profile.”
— “Among other jobs, Meta is advertising for a public policy programs associate manager with an ‘understanding of the political ecosystem’ who would develop ‘innovative strategies and campaigns to shape the public and political climate of opinion around Meta in the U.K. and Ireland” as well as “a director of competition policy in either London or Brussels to work with policymakers and regulators ‘to build understanding and support for Meta’s positions on competition policy issues.’”
N.Y. JUDGE WON’T DISSOLVE NRA: New York Attorney General Tish James “has been dealt a major setback in her corruption case against the National Rifle Association,” The Reload’s Jake Fogleman reports. “Justice Joel Cohen of the Supreme Court of the State of New York dismissed James’ attempt to dissolve the country’s largest gun rights group on Wednesday. He said James’ accusations of corruption primarily involved private harm to NRA members and donors, and thus did not warrant such a sweeping penalty if proven.”
— “‘In short, the Complaint does not allege the type of public harm that is the legal linchpin for imposing the “corporate death penalty,”’ Justice Cohen wrote in his opinion. ‘Moreover, dissolving the NRA could impinge, at least indirectly, on the free speech and assembly rights of its millions of members.’”
— “The decision comes after the NRA filed several motions to dismiss Attorney General James’ corruption claims against the organization and various individual members of its executive leadership. While the judge allowed several of the claims to proceed, dismissal of the threat to dissolve the organization removes James’ most potent weapon against the group.”
— John Emling is joining the Investment Company Institute as chief government affairs officer. Emling served most recently as head of government affairs for Broadcom Inc., and was managing director for federal government affairs for Citi.
— Deanna Williams is now a senior vice president in Precision Strategies’ communications practice, per Playbook. She most recently consulted for various agencies, and is a Marriott alum.
— Kate Hudson is joining the Association of American Universities as associate vice president for policy and federal relations. She was most recently senior counsel at the GAO.
— Missy Jenkins is joining The Assistance Fund as vice president of external affairs, per Playbook. She previously was founder of Belleaire Consulting, and is a Newt Gingrich alum.
— Marlon Bateman is now executive adviser to the office of the Utah attorney general. He is a Trump State Department, Hoover Institution and RNC alum.
O’Halleran Victory Fund 2022 (Rep. Tom O’Halleran, Arizona Democratic Party)
Conrad Shipyard LLC PAC (PAC)
Los Angeles/Orange Counties Building and Construction Trades Council Federal Political Action Committee (PAC) (PAC)
PROTECT AND DEFEND AMERICA (Super PAC)
Shitpost SuperPAC (Super PAC)
Conaway Graves Group, LLC: Association For Digital Asset Markets (Adam)
Delta Strategy Group: Digital Chamber Of Commerce
Emmer Consulting, Inc. (Formerly Known As Emmer Consulting, P.C.): Crown Media Family Networks
Gabor J. Rozsa: National Strategies, LLC
Guide Consulting Services, Inc.: Crisis Text Line
Invariant LLC: Taxbit Inc.
Jtr Strategies LLC: Alaska Airlines
Leonardo US Holding, Inc.: Leonardo US Holding, Inc.
Michael Torrey Associates, LLC: Wayne Farms, LLC
Patterson Earnhart Real Bird & Wilson LLP: Standing Rock Sioux Tribe
Peebles Kidder: Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe
Peebles Kidder: Fort Independence Indian Reservation
Platinum Advisors Dc, LLC: Pasaca Capital, Inc.
Republic Consulting, LLC: Aevex Aerospace
Republic Consulting, LLC: Republic Mission Systems
Salt Point Strategies: Motorola Solutions, Inc.
Stumptown Strategies: Bockonry Group On Behalf Of Sanford Health/Good Samaritan
The Cormac Group, LLC: American Friends Of The Hebrew University
The Cormac Group, LLC: Directorio Democratico Cubano
The Raben Group: Counter Brands, LLC D/B/A Beautycounter
Vaccinate Your Family: Vaccinate Your Family
Qorvis Communications LLC (Formerly Mslgroup Americas, Inc., D/B/A Qorvis Mslgroup): Alexander Skorobogatko And Alexander Ponomarenko