Consultants affiliated with a small Washington, D.C., firm called Beacon Global Strategies hold the unique privilege of providing high-profile foreign policy guidance to Hillary Clinton, Marco Rubio, and Ted Cruz, among others.
The bipartisan firm was founded in 2013 by former senior officials from the State Department, Department of Defense, and Central Intelligence Agency, and quickly had more than a dozen clients, primarily defense contractors, according to Defense News.
Philippe Reines and Andrew Shapiro, both considered part of Clinton’s inner circle of foreign policy advisers, are founders of the firm. Reines served as a longtime spokesperson for Clinton and Shapiro served as her assistant secretary of state for military affairs.
Eric Edelman, a former Bush administration Defense Department official, is an advisory board member to Beacon Global Strategies and a leading foreign policy adviser to Marco Rubio’s presidential campaign. “It’s mostly about defense, but I’ve talked to him about the authorization of military force. I’ve talked to him about the campaign against ISIS, about Russia and Ukraine. There’s not a shortage of issues right now,” Edelman told Reuters. The news wire noted that that Edelman “regularly briefs the senator.”
The Beacon Global Strategies advisory board, which includes retired Adm. James Stavridis and CNN contributor Fran Townsend, was established to “provide guidance to the BGS team on the full range of the firm’s activities, from particular projects to larger strategic initiatives,” the firm announced in 2013.
Brian Hooks, another veteran Bush administration official and advisory board member to Beacon Global Strategies, teamed up with Edelman to form a foreign policy prep effort for Republican candidates, called the John Hay Initiative. Hooks and Edelman have reportedly provided private briefings to help shape foreign policy ideas to candidates including Jeb Bush, Carly Fiorina, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, and Lindsey Graham, encouraging them to take on hawkish positions.
Bryan Smith, the former budget director of the House Intelligence Committee who now works at Beacon Global Strategies as a technical adviser, is also helping lead the John Hay Initiative.
Multiple inquiries from The Intercept to Beacon to disclose its clients and what services it specifically provides went unanswered.
Though the firm says it does not lobby and is not registered as a lobbying firm, lack of registration is becoming increasingly meaningless in Washington as thousands of lobbyists have simply deregistered while continuing to peddle influence on behalf of clients. Under federal lobbying law, lobby registration is only required under very narrow guidelines that are rarely enforced.
While Beacon Global Strategies’ clients and services are a mystery, the firm maintains strong ties to Washington influencers. Politico Playbook headlined the launch of the group: “HOT NEW NATIONAL-SECURITY FIRM.”
After the launch, Jeremy Bash, the managing director of the firm, joined the advisory board to Paladin Capital Group, a private equity firm that provides funding for start-ups that serve as contractors to the National Security Agency.
Beacon Global Strategies’ seed funding came from Claude Fontheim, a former Clinton adviser who now serves as a lobbyist to the U.S.-China Exchange Foundation, a nonprofit reportedly used by Chinese government officials and Hong Kong tycoons to shape American policy toward China.