Chinese companies Huawei and Hikvision, which are on the U.S. sanctions list, have recently hired more former U.S. congressmen and officials to lobby for them in the U.S. Congress and government.
Huawei adds former U.S. lawmakers to lobby for it
According to the Congressional Lobbying Register, Huawei has hired several new lobbying firms in the past month, three of which were founded by former U.S. congressmen or former officials familiar with U.S. congressional and government affairs.
One is former Republican Rep. Lee Terry (R-Texas). Terry served as a U.S. Representative from Nebraska’s 2nd District from 1999 to 2015 and was a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, where he served as chairman of the committee’s Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade Subcommittee. He opened the consulting firm that bears his name after he left the Congress.
The other is Glenn LeMunyon, who is well versed in congressional affairs and operations. LeMunyon worked in Congress from 1985 to 1996, serving as an aide to the House Majority Whip. He began lobbying after leaving Congress and founded his own firm, the LeMunyon Group, in 2000. LeMunyon maintains “extremely close” ties with the Appropriations, Armed Services and Transportation and Infrastructure committees of both chambers of Congress, as well as members and staff of the leadership teams of both chambers, according to his company’s website.
The third is Stephen Binhak, a white-collar crime lawyer. Binhak worked as a Deputy Independent Counsel in the Whitewater investigation tied to President Clinton. He left the public sector to found the firm that bears his name.
The Hill quoted sources as saying that Huawei approached the firms in order to foster a better understanding between Huawei and the U.S. government.
According to information registered on the three firms’ congressional websites, Terry and Reynon will lobby on telecommunications and infrastructure, while Benhak lobbies on issues related to trade, economic sanctions and the annual defense spending bill.
In addition to these three firms, a global consulting services firm called J. S. Held is newly registered to lobby for Huawei. The firm lobbies in areas including foreign investment, telecommunications, export controls, economic and trade sanctions and the defense authorization bill.
Huawei has increased its lobbying efforts in Washington since 2019, and has hired prominent U.S. lawyers or consulting firms as lobbyists to lobby from “inside” the United States. The U.S. Congressional Lobbying Register shows that four of the firms previously hired by Huawei remained with Huawei in the first quarter of this year, including Washington law firm Steptoe & Johnson LLP, Jones Day, and Chicago-based Sidley & Austin. Austin).
Hikvision Adds Former U.S. Sanctions Policy Official to Lobby for It
Another Chinese company, Hikvision, also recently added a former U.S. government official to lobby on its behalf. Peter Kucik, formerly a senior adviser on sanctions policy at the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets, joined Mercury Public Affairs, a lobbying firm hired by Hikvision, last month as its managing director.
Kucik will provide strategic consulting, lobbying, public affairs and government relations services, including contacts with U.S. officials, for the U.S. subsidiary of Chinese surveillance equipment company Hikvision, according to Mercury Public Affairs’ registration filing with the U.S. Department of Justice last week. Under the U.S. Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), individuals and entities that conduct activities for foreign governments and interest groups to the U.S. Congress and government are required to file with the U.S. Department of Justice to register as foreign agents.
According to a press release issued by Mercury Public Affairs, Cusick was instrumental in implementing U.S. sanctions on Libya and Burma and easing travel and remittance restrictions on Cuba during the Obama administration. Cusick has extensive experience in the consulting and legal fields, helping companies around the world understand and respond to U.S. sanctions, providing risk assessments, conducting due diligence to ensure compliance and more, the release said.
The Justice Department’s FARA filing shows that two former Democratic House members also joined Mercury Public Affairs’ Hikvision lobbying team earlier. One is Tony Moffet, who served as a U.S. Representative from Connecticut’s 6th District from 1975 to 1983 and advised Biden on his 2008 presidential campaign. There is also Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), who served as a U.S. senator from California from 1993 to 2017 and later withdrew from lobbying due to public pressure.
Biden administration maintains sanctions policy
As Huawei and Hikvision hire former U.S. congressmen and former government officials to expand their lobbying ranks, the Biden administration is evaluating a range of China-related policies enacted by the Trump administration, and Congress is considering several bills involving China. The American Innovation and Competition Act, passed by the Senate last month, prohibits the U.S. Department of Commerce from lifting restrictions imposed on Huawei without approving that it no longer constitutes national security.
The Biden administration now appears to be continuing the Trump-era restrictions on Huawei and Hikvision. Last month, Biden signed an executive order barring Americans from investing in more than 50 Chinese companies with ties to the Chinese military, including Huawei and Hikvision. Both companies have also been accused of participating in the Chinese government’s persecution and surveillance of minority groups such as Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang, and the Commerce Department has yet to ease export sanctions against the companies. Both Huawei and Hikvision have denied the U.S. allegations.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) also voted last month to launch a plan to adjust its approval process with the aim of imposing a blanket ban on equipment and products made by Chinese companies identified as posing a threat to U.S. national security from entering the U.S. market and communications networks. five Chinese companies, including Huawei and Hikvision, are on the FCC’s current list.
Public relations firms
In addition to their lobbying activities, Huawei and Hikvision Hai are also hiring firms to conduct media relations and publicity campaigns.
According to the Department of Justice’s FARA filing, Huawei currently employs three firms, including Racepoint Global Public Relations Consulting, New York-based Ruder Finn and ADlab LLC, which just established a partnership in January of this year.
In addition to Mercury Public Affairs, New York-based Burson Cohn and Wolfe (BCW) is also working with Hikvision. The multinational public relations and communications firm has offices in four major cities in China. Documents filed by the firm with the U.S. Department of Justice in June show that Hikvision’s U.S. subsidiary is paying about $43,000 a month for its latest basic services.
Lobbying by individuals and companies is protected by law in the United States, but former U.S. lawmakers and officials lobbying for foreign governments and interest groups have also sparked controversy and concern among some. Previously, members of Biden’s national security team had worked for consulting firms with Chinese operations, prompting scrutiny.
Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin has introduced the Congressional and Executive Foreign Lobbying Ban Act, which would ban former members of Congress, retired senior military officers, and former senior government appointees from lobbying for foreign governments. former members of Congress, retired senior military officers, and former senior government appointees, from lobbying for foreign governments.
“This is disgusting (gross),” he wrote Thursday after retweeting reports of former U.S. officials lobbying for Hikvision. He called on Congress to pass his proposed bill, which has bipartisan support, to prevent former senior administration officials from “lobbying for foreign adversaries.”