WASHINGTON — What happened to Egypt’s high-powered lobbying team?
The military overthrow of the government of Mohamed Morsi has put $1.5 billion in U.S. aid suddenly on the line, and Egypt no longer employs any registered lobbyists to help keep the money flowing.
That’s a notable departure from just last year, when Egypt employed a trio of D.C. power players to hold meetings and shepherd its military officers around the Hill. Before — and even after — the days of Hosni Mubarak’s regime, Egypt employed super-lobbyist Tony Podesta of the Podesta Group, former Rep. Bob Livingston, R-La., of the Livingston Group, and former Rep. Toby Moffett, D-La., of the Moffett group — all under the umbrella of their joint venture, the PLM lobbying group.
In 2009, for instance, Podesta accompanied military officers to meetings with Sens. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii.
After the uprising that swept Mubarak from power in February 2011, Egypt kept its lobbying team on the payroll. But contracts with all three lobbying firms were terminated in January 2012, according to documents filed with the Department of Justice under the Foreign Agents Registration Act.
Morsi was elected president in June 2012, five months after the lobbyists stopped working for Egypt, but the country didn’t hire any replacements.
Egypt currently has no registered lobbyists working for it, according to the Justice Department database.
The timing might be bad. The apparent coup that removed Morsi from power could halt U.S. military and economic aid to Egypt, as U.S. law states that aid must stop to any country where the military plays an active role in a “coup d’etat” that overthrows a democratically elected government.
The Obama administration appears to be weighing whether, and how, to keep sending aid.
Unnamed administration officials told The Associated Press that the administration is looking for ways around the “coup” label, and White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told ABC’s Jonathan Karl at Monday’s press briefing that “it would not be in the best interests of the United States to immediately change our assistance programs to Egypt.”