Turkey hires APCO

Nobody's business but the Turks'

by Isaac Arnsdorf
NOBODY'S BUSINESS BUT THE TURKS': Turkey hired APCO Worldwide for media relations and crisis communications after last month's failed coup. The firm started work Aug. 1 and will continue until Aug. 15, for a fee of f $74,200, according to the contract filed with the Justice Department. Neal Cohen, Kevin Goldman and Dan Scandling [a former aide to Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.)] registered for the account.

The addition of APCO escalates the lobbying standoff between President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government and U.S.-based followers of Muslim leader Fethullah Gulen, whom Erdogan accused of involvement in the coup attempt. The Turkish Embassy in Washington hired international lawyer Robert Amsterdam and his firm last year to go after Gulen and his followers in U.S. courts and media, at a rate of $50,000 a month. Amsterdam brought on Madison Group, Mercury Public Affairs and McBee Strategic Consulting in Washington, Jim Arnold in Austin, Texas, and Kindel Gagan and MediaFix Associates in Los Angeles to help with lobbying and communication.

Turkey is also paying Gephardt Group Government Affairs, led by former House Democratic leader Dick Gephardt, $1.7 million this year for lobbying. The Gephardt Group subcontracted lobbying firm Capitol Counsel; law firm Greenberg Traurig; Tom Blank, former communications director to Speaker Newt Gingrich; Lydia Borland, a consultant and former Washington representative of the Turkish-U.S. Business Council; and Brian Forni, an Arlington-based former aide to the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

On the other side, a pro-Gulen group, the Alliance for Shared Values, retained Mark Tavlarides, David Adams and Riley Moore of the Podesta Group in May to lobby on what they called “human rights issues.” They haven’t yet disclosed the payment amount. Harmony Public Schools, one of the institutions Amsterdam is challenging, also hired a lobbyist in May: Pete Kirkham, former chief of staff to Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), for $30,000.

APCO also represents Ukraine and the central bank of Nigeria.

Article posted at http://www.politico.com/tipsheets/politico-influence/2016/08/turkey-hires-apco-215734