Vladimir Putin has a network of lobbyists and lawyers working for him here in America. These executives can be identified through disclosure forms required by the Foreign Agents Registration Act, which mandates people who work “as agents of foreign principals in a political or quasi-political capacity” document these relationships with the Department of Justice. Business Insider went through these records and identified the American executives who are working with Putin’s regime.
Adam Waldman is the founder, chairman, and president of the Endeavour Group, a D.C. consultancy based about two blocks from the White House. In May 2009, Waldman filed paperwork with the DOJ indicating he would be working with Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska to provide “legal advice on issues involving his U.S. visa as well as commercial transactions.”
Deripaska had his U.S. visa revoked in 2006 due to longstanding concerns about his links to organised crime and because the State Department was concerned he lied to American investigators who were looking into his business However, in August and October 2009, shortly after he began working with Waldman, Deripaska was allowed to make two visits to the U.S. During those trips, Deripaska met with FBI agents about an unspecified criminal probe and with top executives at American companies. The Wall Street Journal reported Deripaska’s 2009 trip included meetings with Morgan Stanley, General Motors, and Goldman Sachs Chairman and CEO Lloyd Blankfein.
In his initial FARA paperwork, Waldman indicated Endeavour would receive “a monthly retainer of $US40,000” for his work with Deripaska. Waldman also said Deripaska was not being “supervised” or “directed” by any foreign government. However, in October 2010, Waldman made another filing indicating he would be working with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov “gathering information and providing advice and analysis as it relates to the U.S. policy towards the visa status of Oleg Deripaska.”
As part of its work with Lavrov, Waldman said Endeavour would “engage in correspondence and meetings with U.S. policymakers” about Deripaska’s visa. Waldman indicated he had no “formal written contract” with Lavrov and did not specify how much he was being paid. However, Waldman included a letter Lavrov wrote him on September 15, 2010 describing the assignment.
“Mr. Deripaska is one of our country’s prominent business leaders who controls or directly manages a significant number of enterprises, which employ hundreds of thousands of people in Russia. … Yet over the past several years, there has been certain ambiguity upon his visa status in the United States. A persistent state of limbo regarding Mr. Deripaska’s ability to travel freely between our two countries has become an impediment to the promotion of mutually advantageous contacts between the business communities of the two countries,” Lavrov wrote to Waldman. “The Russian side has raised this issue with various U.S. officials on numerous occasions, including in the course of bilateral discussion with both the White House and the State Department at different levels. I believe the involvement of your firm will contribute to the ongoing efforts aimed at achieving a successful resolution of this problem.”
Business Insider contacted the State Department to inquire about Deripaska’s visa status Tuesday. Citing the confidentiality of visa records, a State Department spokesman declined to comment. Waldman has not responded to multiple requests for comment from Business Insider about his work with Deripaska and Lavrov. Based on the information in his 2009 FARA filing, Waldman has received at least $US2.36 million working to help Deripaska with his visa.
The New York City-based public relations agency Ketchum seems central to the Russian Federation’s American PR and lobbying push. Except for Endeavour Group, all of the other American companies working on behalf of the Russian government’s interests are contracted through Ketchum, which is led by CEO Rob Flaherty and Chairman Ray Kotcher (pictured at right).
Documents filed with the DOJ in 2007 indicate Ketchum provides the Russian government with “public relations counsel, lobbying, and media relations support. Ketchum also provides “media relations support” to Gazprom Export, a subsidiary of Russia’s state-owned gas company Gazprom. Gazprom Export focuses on natural gas exports to Europe and the former USSR, which are crucial to the Russian economy.
According to ProPublica, Ketchum received about $US23 million in fees and expenses on its Russian account from mid-2006 through mid-2012. During that same period, Ketchum received $US17 million for its work with Gazprom Export. Ketchum has not responded to a request for comment from Business Insider. NBC News, which also took a look at Ketchum and other businessmen working for the Russian government Wednesday, reported the agency received $US1.5 million for its work on behalf of Russia and $US3 million for working with Gazprom Export in the most recent six month reporting period.
Robert C. Jones
Robert Jones heads the Legislative and Public Policy group at the D.C. office of the law firm Alston & Bird LLP. According to FARA filings, Alston & Bird began providing “advisory services” to the Russian Federation through Ketchum in January 2009. In multiple contracts sent to Kotcher stipulating the terms of the deals between Alston & Bird and Ketchum, Jones identified himself as the “attorney ultimately responsible to Ketchum, Inc.” and outlined the types of services the firm would provide the Russian government.
“Alston & Bird LLP will gather information and provide advice and analysis on various areas of international politics, and U.S. foreign and foreign economic policy, which affect the bilateral US-Russian relationship. Alston & Bird LLP will also monitor and report on legislative developments in the Congress in similar issue areas,” Jones wrote. “Assistance will be provided to Ketchum, Inc. for dissemination to the foreign principal at their discretion pursuant to our agreement with Ketchum, Inc.”
Prior to joining Alston & Bird, Jones spent 18 years at the law firm Patton Boggs LLP. According to his biography on the Alston & Bird site, “before entering private practice, Mr. Jones served as counsel to the Senate Appropriations Committee and as appropriations counsel to Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-MD).”
Jones’ correspondence with Kotcher also revealed how much the firm was being paid for its work for the Russians. In his first letter, Jones said the firm would charge $US35,000 per month in “advisory fees for this engagement from January 1, 2009 until May 31, 2009. In December 2012, Jones wrote to Kotcher again outlining a new deal for the firm to advise Russia through Ketchum for $US20,000 a month from February 2013 through October 31, 2013. Jones sent Kotcher another contract in December of last year that said the firm would be paid $US15,000 a month to provide services to Russia through Ketchum from November 1, 2013 through Oct. 31 of this year. Based on these contracts Alston & Bird is set to make a total of $US535,000 working for Russia.
“We are privileged and delighted that Alston & Bird will work with Ketchum, Inc. to advise the Russian Federation for the purposes described herein and we thank you very much for choosing us. We look forward with enthusiasm and appreciation to working with you,” wrote Jones in his most recent letter to Kotcher.
Business Insider reached out to Jones for comment on his work for the Russian Federation and received an email from Alston & Bird Policy Advisor Eric Shimp.
“On all matters regarding the Russian Federation, we would refer you directly to Ketchum, Inc,” Shimp wrote.
Ketchum has not responded to a request for comment about Alston & Bird’s work advising the Russian Federation.
Venable LLP partner William Nordwind is another former congressional aide who is now working for Russian interests as part of a private practice. Nordwind’s biography on the Venable site describes him as a “15-year veteran of Capitol Hill” who spent 12 of those years working for Republican Michigan Congressman Fred Upton.
According to records filed with the DOJ FARA unit, since June 2010, Venable has been working through Ketchum to advise Gazprom Export. In a contract sent to FARA in 2010, Nordwind identified himself to Ketchum partner Kathy Jeavons as “the responsible partner in charge” of Venable’s work for Gazprom and Ketchum.
“My understanding is that our representation in this matter involves government relations, with an emphasis on energy policy.” Norwdind wrote.
The contract Nordwind sent to Jeavons also stipulated how much Venable would be paid $US28,000 a month beginning in June 2010 to assist Ketchum in its representation of Gazprom Export. Based on this figure, Venable has made $US1.26 million working for the Russian gas company.
Business Insider emailed Nordwind and received a response from Venable Director of Communications Chris Till who directed us to Ketchum. As of this writing, Ketchum has not responded to a request for comment about Venable and Gazprom Export.
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