Federal lawyers are investigating whether a one-time Trump campaign adviser and lobbyist Barry Bennett set up an advocacy group without disclosing his ties to Qatar. It writes the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday.
Unpaid adviser Bennett allegedly launched a group called the Yemen Crisis Watch in 2017 in an attempt to harass Qatar’s rivals – Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates – amid their brutal military campaign in Yemen that led to widespread famine and poverty .
Bennett did not disclose his ties to Yemen Crisis Watch or register the group under foreign lobbying laws, despite receiving $ 250,000 from the Qatari embassy “to support relief of humanitarian suffering in Yemen,” according to a Justice Department statement.
Yemen Crisis Watch would be required to register with the Ministry of Justice if it received funding from Qatar.
The group ran ads on social media and wrote opinion pieces published by the Washington Examiner, highlighting atrocities in Yemen, and then Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer spoke at a congressional briefing on behalf of the group, the Journal reported.
The Ministry of Justice declined to comment. The Qatari embassy did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Qatar paid Bennett’s lobbying firm, Avenue Strategies, a total of $ 3 million from July 2017 to July 2018 in a push to make inroads with former President TrumpDonald TrumpBiden envoy calls on North Korea to restart nuclear talks.
Bennett launched Avenue Strategies shortly after the 2016 election and quickly drew customers seeking access to the Trump administration. His company’s revenue peaked in 2020, brings in almost $ 1 million, according to money-in-policy watchdog OpenSecrets.
Bennett shut down the firm in February when he and other lobbyists announcing their ties to former President Trump lost clients following his election loss.
The Justice Department has increasingly enforced laws on transparent influence over foreign influence in recent years, beginning with the 2018 indictment of former Trump campaign chairman Paul ManafortPaul John Manafort Foreign lobbyists donate over M in 2020 election: report Former Mueller accusations representing Donoghue in congressional investigations: report Lobbyist Tony Podesta returns to work for Huawei MORE over his unregistered foreign influence campaign.
Last month, federal prosecutors accused Tom Barrack, chairman of Trump’s founding committee, the accusations that he was secretly working to influence Trump’s campaign and administration on behalf of the United Arab Emirates.
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