Free talk and small change

Only weeks before Guyana’s long election crisis suddenly came to an end, the People’s Progressive / Civic Party (PPP / C) quietly ended its contract with the American lobbying company, Mercury Public Affairs after spending over $ 63M against $ 10M his main opponent.

According to a filing with the United States Department of Justice (US), the bipolar group from Washington concluded its advisory agreement with the PPP / C that took effect on July 9 this year. Six days later, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced initial visa sanctions against anonymous individuals who undermine democracy here, on top of repeated warnings from Washington. He historically visited oil-rich Guyana in September.

PPP / C candidate Irfaan Ali was sworn in as the ninth Executive President on August 2, after the head of the Guyana Election Commission (GECOM), Claudette Singh finally declared the results in favor of the main Opposition party, with ‘ The voting submissions have been corrected by the controversial Chief Election Officer, Keith Lowenfield.

President Ali’s appointment came after an unprecedented five-month interval marked by clumsy rigging efforts, increased international pressure, long court battles and a 33-day authoritative recount. Unsubstantiated allegations of irregularity were made by the ruling A Partnership for National Unity and Alliance for Change (APNU + AFC) dominated by the People’s National Congress (PNC), even as the coalition claimed and celebrated victory in March 2, 2020 elections, without ever revealing his still missing Poll Statements (SOPs).

In a prudent, precautionary move, the PPP / C hired Mercury for an initial US $ 150 000 in March 2019 ahead of the elections, given the continued refusal of the APNU + AFC administration led by President David Granger to resign, with the surprise passing no motion confidence December 21, 2018 enabled by the single transcendental vote by then-AFC Member of Parliament (MP) Charrandass Persaud.

But overall spending ended up higher, with the PPP / C handing over a reported total of US $ 253 557 in 2019 to Mercury, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics that tracks money in US politics and ‘ to effects on elections and public policy., the premier research group’s award-winning website, notes that in the first half of this year, Mercury collected another US $ 49 965, for a total of more than US $ 303 000 (estimated $ 63M). Dated June 1, 2020 to disseminate the last batch of information material including copies of election-related reports by the Financial Times correspondent Andres Schipani. The media updates were registered by Mercury with the FARA Unit of the Anti-Demonstration and Export Control Department. (CES) in the National Security Division (NSD). FARA is the Foreign Agents Registration Act under the US Department of Justice which enforces periodic public disclosure, including activities, receipts and payments by certain foreign heads agents.

Last year, the then Leader of the Opposition and former two-time President of Guyana Bharrat Jagdeo defended the $ 34M Mercury price tag as a spent announcement, “We are getting worth every cent. Every cent is worth it. ”He said the money came through donations from PPP / C supporters here and abroad. The wily Mr Jagdeo remains a powerful frontman and is the only Vice President in Ali’s new administration.

“We are happy that this company is effective and we believe they will get the message across to Washing-ton, which is for free and fair elections. It is of universal value and we believe that with their help, we can counter the lies ”he argued. Insisting during a press conference, “We are doing this for Guyana. We pay money from the PPP fund for Guyana, ”Mr Jagdeo even suggested that the cash should be repaid from the Granger Government and made it a” shame “that the lobbying was necessary because of the” wrongdoing. ” reported agents registered on PPP / C’s Mercury account included former U.S. Representative for Florida’s 26th congressional district, Jose Antonio Garcia, a Democrat who lost his re-election in 2014, and Bryan Lanza, a Donald Trump campaign and convert in 2016. officially. Mercury Co-Chair Gustavo Arnavat was also named, along with Managing Director Beth DeFalco, a Pulitzer Prize-winning crisis communications strategist and journalist. Mr. Arnavat, is a former Executive Director of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) in the US.

Others were Senior Vice President Rodney Emery, who served in the Obama Administration as a presidential appointee in the US Department of Commerce; Hannah Kikano, Director at the New York City office of Mercury, specializing in media and public affairs campaigns; and Christopher Murphy, Director at the firm’s Washington branch, where he works on government relations for international clients.

Foreign is founded by Julian Pecquet, editor of Foreign Lobby Report, which tracks the US $ 500Ma-year foreign influence industry. Neither Mercury nor the PPP / C responded to requests for comment on the timing of the termination, Mr. Pecquet noted in a July piece, and key figures did not mention any public figures here.

In another post, he said the PPP / C had courted Democratic candidate Joe Biden’s campaign on the Guyana election standoff, with Mr Arnavat reaching out to one of the team’s Latin American advisers, Daniel Erikson. Mr. Erikson is a Senior Fellow at the Penn Biden Center for Global Diplomacy and Engagement and served as Special Advisor to Vice President Biden.

Last Saturday, Mr. Biden Jr. was elected 46th US President, defeating President Donald Trump after winning Pennsylvania, which puts Democrats’ expected total of Electoral College votes above the required 270. US mainstream media projected the election, but state results remain

certified and several vote counts are continuing with runoff set for January. The US College of Electoral Representatives is meeting on December 14 to formally name the winner.

As feared, President Trump has so far refused to surrender, falsely declaring that he won the Nov. 3 elections and accusing Democrats of engaging in mass voter fraud, leading to a plethora of lawsuits in in contrast to the coalition’s campaign to remain in Government. On Tuesday, a smiling Secretary of State, Mr Pompeo expressed concern over his apparent joke that “there will be a smooth transition to the second Trump administration” in January. He slammed a Reuters reporter for his “ridiculousness” and questioned whether President Trump’s refusal to surrender, defies US efforts to promote democratic transition abroad. The US State Department “deeply cares about ensuring that elections around the world are safe and free and fair, and my officials risk their lives to make that happen,” Mr Pompeo replied.

“We often come across situations where it is not clear about a particular election” but “we are working to uncover facts” and to learn whether the outcome reflected people’s will, he said, insisting We want all of those votes to be counted in the same way that we have every expectation that every vote here in the United States will be counted as well. ”

The PPP / C alliance, the International Center for Democracy, a New York-based not-for-profit company engaged the Cormac Group to lobby on its behalf. shows that the Center paid Cormac US $ 170 000 in 2020 for lobbying by Jose Cardenas and Jonathan Slade on “various issues.”

At the end of March, the site confirms, the APNU + AFC coalition in turn quickly prepared a famous file on behalf of the incumbent Government and brought in its own American lobbying company JJ&B for US $ 50 000 ( about $ 10M), in despair. but the attempt to increase support failed. However, reveals that, remarkably, JJ&B has continued to labor over the APNU + AFC with the latest promotional material of a speech by the current Opposition Leader, Joseph Harmon in swearing of the Chairman of Region Four, which was shared on 2 November representatives including from the Office of Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Expressing alarm over Mr Ali’s recent statements that the 2021 Local Government Elections will not be held until a satisfactory overhaul of the GECOM is threatened, Mr Harmon pledged “serious opposition” holding his party’s election petitions before the Court’s success.

JJ&B partner Bart Fisher in a July 7, 2020 opinion editorial for the State-owned Guyana Chronicle upheld the coalition’s blatant allegations that “Lowenfield detected serious fraud on the part of the PPP / C” citing “many free speech by the PPP / C about possible sanctions that could be imposed by the United States and other countries against Guyana and… Lowenfield, if the PPP / C is not declared a winner. ”

By July 29, Mr Slade, a Cormac Democrat, was shooting back with his, slamming the coalition and Mr Granger for their “grabbing power.” He wrote, “The Granger Government’s rejection of the loss, and the peaceful transfer of power, is of concern to Americans, both Democrats and Republicans”, calling Mr Lowenfield’s attempt to expel 115,000 votes “one of the efforts most disgraceful to undermine elections ever seen in the non-communist world. ”

“The Democrats who joined their Republican colleagues to call on Granger and his party to respect the outcome of the elections were some of the most influential Members of Congress on foreign policy issues,” he said.

Mr Slade concluded, “If Biden wins the November election and the Granger Government holds power, there will be no basis for the new US administration to overturn the sanctions … put in place by the Trump administration , ”Adding that there is no doubt that” the new President Biden will follow in the footsteps of his Democratic predecessors and support the outcome of the election in Guyana in March 2020, as confirmed by the June recount. ” For the triumphant PPP / C all the little change was definitely worth it.

ID hears President Trump’s quote, “I’ve had lobbyists, and I’ve had some really good ones. They could do anything. ”