On July 24, Turkey launched a massive military campaign that included sweeping attacks against Kurdish forces as well as minor strikes on Islamic State positions south of Turkey’s border. Just five days later, the Turkish government inked a contract to hire a team of prominent lobbyists to add to its already formidable army of influence-peddlers in Washington.
The contract, revealed Wednesday in a filing with the Justice Department, shows that the law and lobbying firm Squire Patton Boggs was retained on July 29 on a $32,000 a month retainer — as a subcontractor to Gephardt Government Affairs, acting for Turkey on its own 10-month, $1.7 million contract.
Squire Patton Boggs is no ordinary lobbying firm. It is among the highest grossing firms inside the Beltway, with a roster of former senior government officials and lawmakers. Individuals from the firm are now helping to fundraise for Jeb Bush and are among the top 20 donors to Hillary Clinton over the course of her political career.
As we reported last month, Turkey has quietly used its hired political muscle to influence the U.S. war on the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, including a lobbying effort aimed at preventing U.S. military aide to Peshmerga forces, which have collaborated with other Kurdish militas against ISIS. Though American military commanders view the Kurdish fighters associated with the Kurdistan Worker’s Party, or PKK, as the most effective forces against ISIS, Turkey’s political leaders view PKK and other Kurdish militias as an existential threat.
Turkey’s decision to allow American military planes to use two air bases there led American officials to express support for Turkey, even as it ramped up its bombing campaign against Kurdish forces.
The lobbying registration documents show that Turkey will now be assisted by a Squire Patton Boggs team that includes former Sens. Trent Lott and John Breaux, along with former White House official Robert Kapla and former Republican congressional aide Bret Boyles.
The team from Squire Patton Boggs joins a small army of lobbyists employed by Turkey. They include former Democratic lawmakers Dick Gephardt and Al Wynn; former Republican Senator Tim Hutchinson; retired Central Intelligence Agency Director Porter Goss; former Democratic aide Brian Fornil; the law firm Greenberg Traurig; and Goldin Solutions, a media strategy firm. The Turkish government also uses a number of affiliated nonprofits to organize pro-Turkey publicity events and to organize vacation-style junkets for American journalists, politicians and other influential individuals.
Caption: A demonstration denouncing a police operation against Kurdish militants in Istanbul.