BY JULIAN PECQUET SEPTEMBER 3, 2021
The Ethiopian government has hired Mercury Public Affairs to beef up its Washington lobbying presence amid growing pressure from Congress and the Joe Biden administration over the violence in Tigray.
The firm is expected to provide “government relations and media relations consulting and management services” for Addis Ababa, according to a new lobbying filing. As with most of its contracts with foreign sovereigns, Mercury is registering as a subcontractor to its London affiliate Mercury International UK, shielding key information including the contract amount from disclosure under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).
The contract with the London office runs from Aug. 23 until Nov. 22. Ashley Bauman, a former communications director for Tampa Mayor Jane Castor who joined the firm in July, is the only registered foreign agent on the account to date.Ethiopia joins a growing list of controversial African clients represented by Mercury. The firm notably lobbies for the governments of Uganda and Zimbabwe as well as the interim Government of National Unity in Libya.
Just this summer, the firm also registered for a new US Ethiopian diaspora group, the American Ethiopia Public Affairs Committee (AEPAC), which supports Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed‘s offensive against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front and its allies. The registered lobbyists on that account include former Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) and former Rep. Joe Garcia (D-Fla.), suggesting the firm might eventually beef up its lobbying team for the Ethiopian government.