Egypt has a well-paid presence in Washington

By A. James Memmott

January 30, 2011 at 7:34am

Egypt’s government would seem to have friends in short supply at home - given the huge protests there.

But it does have at some friends in Washington, friends with access to power.

Salon’s Justin Elliott notes that Egypt has purchased considerable “lobbying muscle” in the U.S., having engaged firms with both strong Democratic and Republican ties.

Seven firms are currently listed as registered foreign principals for the Egyptian government or concerns linked to Egypt.

Hosni Mubarak
Hosni Mubarak
Egyptian president

They include Podesta Group, an outgrowth of the firm founded in 1988 by the brothers Tony and John Podesta.

Tony Podesta has worked on several campaigns for Democratic candidates including Edward F. Kennedy and Bill Clinton.

John Podesta, who is not with the Podesta Group, was Clinton’s chief of staff and the co-chair of the Barack Obama presidential transition team. Since 2003, he has been the CEO of the Center for American Progress, a think tank.

On the Republican side, the Egyptian government is connected to the Livingston Group, a firm headed by Bob Livingston, the former Republican congressman from Louisiana.

Some of the Egyptian money to the Podesta Group and the Livingston Group flows through the PLM Group, a joint venture created by the two firms.

Toby Moffett, a lobbyist and former Democratic congressman from Connecticut, is a co-chair of PLM.

Moffett also heads the Moffett Group, a lobbying and consulting firm registered as representing Egypt.

According to a registration document, Egypt agreed in 2007 to pay $1.1 million annually to PLM.

PLM’s listed duties include maintaining contact with “members of Congress and their staff(s), executive branch officials and non-governmental organizations.”

The Washington firm of Chlopak, Leonard, Schechter and Associates is also an agent for Egypt, having signed a contract in June 2009 to advise the Egyptian embassy’s press office.

The contract calls for Egypt to pay Chlopak, Leonard $45,000 a month in exchange for the firm’s help in designing and managing a “strategic public relations and communications plan.”

Robert Chlopak, a founding partner of the firm, is the former executive director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

Charles Leonard, another partner at Chlopak, Leonard, was national campaign director of the National Republican Congressional Committee in 1988 and 1989 and he was an adviser to the 1988 George H.W. Bush presidential campaign.

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