Given that the repressive government of Egypt received $1.5 billion in military and economic aid from the US government in 2010, it’s not surprising that it is also well represented in Washington’s lobbying community on K Street.
Chris Good of TheAtlantic.com notes that since 2007 the Egyptian government has paid the DC-based lobbying firm PLM Group $1.1 million per year. PLM is run by Democratic powerbroker Tony Podesta (whose brother John is a former chief of staff to Bill Clinton and current head of the Center for American Progress), former Democratic Rep. Toby Moffett (who represented Connecticut’s 6th district from 1975-–83) and former Republican Speaker of the House Bob Livingston. According to their contract, PLM was hired to provide assistance in all facets to the Egyptian embassy and “identify, as early as possible, any weakness and/or problem areas in Egypt’s image within Congress or the Executive Branch and advise on ways to deal with such areas of concern.” Presumably that image makeover is kicking into high gear right now, as the Egyptian government attempts to downplay the images of tear gas being directed at pro-democracy protesters in the streets of Cairo.
The Sunlight Foundation and ProPublica add more details about how PLM lobbyists have helped the Egyptian regime on military matters:
Lobbyists for Egypt had at least 279 contacts on military issues, the bulk of which occurred when PLM Group accompanied delegations of Egyptian military officers to meet members of Congress, administration officials and representatives from defense contractors including BAE Systems, General Dynamics, General Electric, Raytheon and Lockheed Martin. All five have done business with the Egyptian government, selling tanks, fighter jets, howitzers and radar arrays to its military. At the time of the meeting with the contractors, Podesta Group counted BAE Systems, General Dynamics and Lockheed Martin among its clients, while the Livingston Group represented Raytheon.
Last year James Gibney of The Atlantic provocatively called on the United States to cut off aid to Egypt and Israel, pointing out that the billions of dollars in aid spent annually on each country has brought the US government little in return. Today Secretary of State Hillary Clinton tried to strike a balanced tone toward the recent protests in Cairo, urging both the government and protesters to exercise restraint, while pressing Hosni Mubarak to respect “universal human rights” and “engage immediately with the Egyptian people in implementing needed economic, political and social reform.” But on K Street, that balance of power is decidedly in favor of an increasingly discredited Egyptian regime.