— Saudi Arabia has an army of Washington lobbyists to deploy as it tries to stop Congress from passing legislation that could expose the country to litigation over the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
The kingdom employs a total of eight American firms that perform lobbying, consulting, public relations and legal work.
Five of the firms work for the Saudi Arabia Embassy, while another two — Podesta Group and BGR Group — have registered to represent the Center for Studies and Media Affairs at the Saudi Royal Court, an arm of the government. PR giant Edelman, meanwhile, is working for the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority to encourage international investment.
The hiring spree began early last year, when Saudi Arabia signed six K Street firms. It added BGR to its roster last month.
For all of 2015, the country spent more than $9.4 million on advocacy in Washington, according to disclosure records filed to the Justice Department. One of its U.S. oil subsidiaries, meanwhile, is responsible for external relations such as throwing or sponsoring events on behalf of the kingdom.
None of the disclosure forms mentioned efforts to combat the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, which was introduced last September by Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas). But that is likely to change now that the bill has passed out of a Senate committee.
Saudi Arabia has threatened to sell off $750 billion in Treasury securities and other assets it holds in the United States if the bill passes Congress, according to The New York Times, which also mentions a fierce lobbying campaign by the country. The selling of assets would prevent them from being frozen by U.S. courts, should American victims be able to sue.
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