News Release

The Saudi Lobby Juggernaut

Sen. Rand Paul states: “The Saudis will keep killing civilians and journalists as long as we keep arming and assisting them. The President should immediately halt arms sales and military support to Saudi Arabia.” See video of Paul’s comments regarding the Saudi bombing of Yemen and missing Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. The Hill reports: “Senators demand answers on Trump administration backing of Saudi coalition in Yemen.”

BEN FREEMAN, ben at ciponline.org
Freeman is the director of the Foreign Influence Transparency Initiative at the Center for International Policy. He just wrote the piece for TomDispatch: “The Saudi Lobby Juggernaut,” which states: “The growth of Saudi lobbying operations [has been] extraordinary. In 2016, according to FARA records, they reported spending just under $10 million on lobbying firms; in 2017, that number had nearly tripled to $27.3 million. And that’s just a baseline figure for a far larger operation to buy influence in Washington, since it doesn’t include considerable sums given to elite universities or think tanks like the Arab Gulf States Institute, the Middle East Institute, and the Center for Strategic and International Studies (to mention just a few of them).

“This meteoric rise in spending allowed the Saudis to dramatically increase the number of lobbyists representing their interests on both sides of the aisle. Before President Trump even took office, the Saudi government signed a deal with the McKeon Group, a lobbying firm headed by Howard ‘Buck’ McKeon, the recently retired Republican chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. His firm also represents Lockheed Martin, one of the top providers of military equipment to the Kingdom. On the Democratic side, the Saudis inked a $140,000-per-month deal with the Podesta Group, headed by Tony Podesta, whose brother John, a long-time Democratic Party operative, was the former chairman of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. Tony Podesta later dissolved his firm and has allegedly been investigated by Special Counsel Robert Mueller for serving as an unregistered foreign agent. …

“Such activity reveals a clear pattern: Saudi foreign agents are working tirelessly to shape perceptions of that country, its royals, its policies, and especially its grim war in Yemen, while simultaneously working to keep U.S. weapons and military support flowing into the Kingdom.”