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Editor’s Note: Every Tuesday we break down the hires, fires, movers and shakers all taking place in the wild world of Washington lobbying. Email [email protected] if you want your firm to appear in this weekly column. 

Pretty much every nation on earth has some stake in U.S. politics. And what better way to protect your sovereignty from Congress than to hire a Washington lobbying team on behalf of your government? In an effort to keep track of all these international interests spending big bucks on Capitol Hill, the Sunlight Foundation has unveiled a new widget to track all foreign lobbying expenditures. So which country spent the most this past year? Not surprisingly, it was the tiny United Arab Emirates. 

The UAE has a lot of money they are willing to spend to protect their position in Washington. In 2013 the country shelled out $14,186,622 on lobbying, specifically on illicit finance issues such as terrorist funding and Iranian sanctions. Germany, Canada and Saudi Arabia follow in the list of countries spending the most on lobbying, all paying more than $10 million in 2013. (See correction below.) The fifth highest spender was Mexico, who only spent $6,132,132 in comparison.

In other news, the government of Gibraltar has signed a lobbying contract with Holland & Knight this week. The $35,000 monthly contract will focus on lobbying on economic and security issues of importance to the tiny island nation.

New Client Contracts

  • The newly formed Alignment Government Strategies has just signed 22 new clients including AARP, General Dynamics, Huntington Bank, Norfolk Southern and Advance/Newhouse Communications. AGS was founded last month by five partners from the firm Williams & Jensen. 21 of the 22 new clients they’ve signed previously worked with Williams & Jensen, bringing in a total of $2.8 million to the firm in 2013.
  • Lobbying firm Venable has been hired by the discount website Overstock to lobby on sale regulation, patent reform and internet governance. The company has also been heavily involved in combating naked short selling, which is the practice of trading securities before they are verified.

Making Moves

  • Betsy Barrett announced on Friday that she was leaving her leadership position at the Internet Association to serve as a vice president for Glover Park Group focusing on telecom and technology issues. “Helping to grow The Internet Association from a start-up into the strong and thriving impact organization it is today has been such a rewarding opportunity,” Barrett wrote in a statement announcing her move. “For industry advocates, your understanding of the Internet, e-commerce, and public policy has been invaluable to helping The IA develop its platform and advocacy agenda. For members of the news media, your dedication and commitment to informing the public about these vital issues has made my work meaningful, exciting and fulfilling. I hope you will continue to consider me a resource going forward.”
  • Diane Miller will be joining the firm DDC Advocacy as senior vice president for client relations, with a focus on issue advocacy and government relations.  “Diane brings a powerful addition to the DDC Advocacy team,” B.R. McConnon III, CEO of DDC Advocacy said in a statement. “Diane is sharp, creative and provides experienced insights into client issues and pathways to successful outcomes. She brings a wealth of knowledge in building and guiding teams and an impressive record of wins in the corporate, government and nonprofit arenas. Because of the hands-on role she will play at DDCA, her strengths will be tremendous assets to our clients.” Previously Miller served as a partner at DCI Group. 
  • TechNet has hired Mike Ward to be the new vice president for federal policy and government relations. Previously Ward was working in the office of Representative Todd Rokita, where he was chief of staff. Before that he advised Representative Mike Rogers on issues relating to telecom, energy and tax reform.

Major Announcements

  • Public affairs firm Purple Strategies has launched a stunning new website highlighting their ongoing projects and commitment to bipartisanship. “We wanted to create a place that showcased our unique combination of Red and Blue + Brand Trust and Public Affairs, which has led to strong business partnerships with our clients as we help them move and shape public opinion. We feature our strategic thinkers, highlight some of our best work so far and provide a window into Purple New England as well as our offices in Chicago and D.C,” the firm wrote in a statement.
  • President Obama was spotted on the golf course this weekend in Gainesville, Virginia with lobbyist iJoe O’Neill, CEO of Public Strategies Washington. O’Neill is currently on retainer for Bain Capital, and lobbies on tax reform issues.
  • The C2 Group and Wiley Rein are hosting a “Call to Action” fundraiser for the NRCC featuring House Speaker John Boehner and NRCC chairman Greg Walden. David Foster of Skadden ArpsBoyden Gray of Boyden Gray & AssociatesTodd R. Steggerda of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, former AOL Time Warner executive George Vradenburg and Jamie Wareham of DLA Piper are all expected to be in attendance.
  • The Chertoff Group and Edelman have announced that they will be partnering to offer cybersecurity services to their clients. Specifically the two firms will offer cyber risk assessments, scenario planning, media training and risk management assessments