The Gulf emirate expanded its stable of lobbying and public relations firms from two to five in 2015 and paid them a combined $3.34 million, according to a review of financial disclosures. That’s up from $764,000 the year before.
The spending binge followed sharp criticism from US lawmakers and Treasury officials that Doha has turned a blind eye to questionable money transfers. Neighboring Gulf nations upset over Qatar’s post-Arab Spring support for Islamist-leaning opposition groups have also hired US operators to tarnish the emirate’s reputation in the United States.
Qatar’s investment appears to have paid off. Congress and the Treasury Department have largely silenced their past criticism, while the State Department’s most recent terrorism report released in early June gives the country credit for a slate of recent legislation on charities and cybercrime prevention, while nevertheless bemoaning Qatari citizens‘ continued support for al-Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate. (…)
After spending relatively little on direct lobbying in recent years, the emirate hired Portland PR in late 2014 to promote Qatar’s „views and efforts.” In turn, that firm tapped the Gallagher Group last year to help with the contract, while the embassy in Washington hired Mercury Public Affairs and Levick Strategic Communications for congressional lobbying and outreach to nongovernmental organizations, respectively.“
(Julian Pecquet: „Qatar spends big to counter charges of lax stance on terror“)