Friday, March 22, 2024

Conflict Resolution Think Tank Hires Lobbyist for FARA Fight

Here is more from Politico:

NGO HIRES MERCURY: A conflict resolution think tank that three House Republicans accused of potentially acting as an unregistered foreign agent last month has boosted its presence in Washington as it pushes back against the criticism.

International Crisis Group, a Brussels-based NGO, retained Mercury Government Affairs earlier this month for help “introducing the organization to policymakers” and talking the organization up as a “trusted resource on foreign relations matters,” according to a disclosure filing.

Patrick Costello, the head of Mercury’s NGO and think tank practice and former chief executive of the national security think tank American Security Project, will work on the account for Mercury, according to the filing. It’s the first time the group has reported lobbying Washington since 2015, per a PI analysis of disclosures.

— At the beginning of February, Reps. Jim Banks (R-Ind.), Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) and Michael Waltz (R-Fla.) wrote a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland to request an investigation into whether International Crisis Group’s ties to Iranian groups — around the time that Crisis Group was lobbying on the Iran nuclear deal — had violated FARA.

— The lawmakers cited reporting from Semafor about an agreement the group had struck with a think tank run out of Iran’s foreign ministry to work together on research. Months earlier, Semafor had reported that Crisis Group researchers “were involved in an Iranian-backed research group … which Tehran hoped to use to advance its positions on the nuclear issue beginning in 2014.”


Costello was hired by Mercury in 2022 to lead the firm's NGO/Think Tank engagement practice.  Costello spent more than a decade at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), including as director of its Washington External Affairs.  He is a Life Member at CFR.  In 2021, he became the CEO of American Security Project (ASP).