DOHA: The Qatari government has signed Avenue Strategies Global, a sister firm of the lobbying shop co-founded by Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, as it scrambles for favor in Washington in its ongoing standoff with Saudi Arabia and its allies. Lewandowski founded Avenue Strategies with Barry Bennett, another Trump campaign veteran, after Trump’s victory last year but left in May after a spate of unflattering stories. Bennett and Lewandowski started Avenue Strategies Global to focus on international work weeks before Lewandowski quit the firm. (Bennett had initially ruled out working for foreign governments but later said this spring that the firm was pursuing overseas clients.)
Now Avenue “may provide counsel to the State of Qatar on matters relating to public diplomacy, strategic communications and government relations services,” according to a disclosure filed with the Justice Department. Bennett and two others — Ed Brookover, another Trump campaign veteran, and Angus M. Green Jr. — will represent Qatar through “communications with Members of Congress and Congressional staff, Executive Branch officials, the media, and with other individuals and organizations involved in governmental and public policy matters.” Qatar is paying the firm $150,000 a month.
Qatar’s hiring of Avenue is part of an expensive effort to beef up the tiny Gulf country’s presence in Washington. “The Qataris are playing catch-up ball,” Patrick Theros, a former U.S. ambassador to Qatar in the Clinton administration who now heads the U.S.-Qatar Business Council, told POLITICO earlier this month. “They had a minimal lobbying presence” before the crisis. Qatar has hired three additional firms Information Management Services, LEVICK and former Attorney General John Ashcroft’s firm in addition to Avenue, and is spending at least $1.5 million per month on Washington lobbying. Saudi Arabia and its allies, meanwhile, have plenty of lobbying muscle of their own.