By Kevin Bogardus - 07/01/10 10:00 AM EDT
A billionaire ex-Thai prime minister living in exile has hired a trio of lobby and law firms, according to lobbying disclosure forms.
Thaksin Shinawatra, who was forced out of office by Thailand’s military in 2006, has hired BGR Government Affairs, Amsterdam & Peroff and Kobre & Kim to lobby federal policymakers.
Individuals close to Thaksin have been linked by government officials to financing the protests. Thailand’s government, which has begun arresting leaders of the dissident movement, have charged the ex-prime minister with terrorism, an allegation he denies.
Even in exile, Thaksin has remained an active figure in Thai politics, and the lobbying contracts suggest he wants to retain ties with the Washington diplomatic community in the hope of reserving some influence in his home country.
BGR, according to the firm’s lobbying registration for Thaksin, will “provide strategic counsel on U.S. government policy and assist with advancing individual’s desire to promote democracy in Thailand.”
At BGR, Thaksin will be represented by Stephen Rademaker, former national security policy director for then-Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.); Jonathan Mantz, the national finance director for then-Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s (D-N.Y.) 2008 presidential campaign; and Walker Roberts, an ex-deputy staff director for the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Loren Monroe, a BGR principal, declined to comment for this piece, saying the firm does not discuss client matters.
Law firms Amsterdam & Peroff and Kobre & Kim have registered to lobby for Thaksin to “provide guidance and counsel with respect to Mr. Thaksin’s interests in Washington, D.C., and abroad,” according to lobbying registration forms.
Thaksin had previously hired BGR when it was known as Barbour Griffith & Rogers. He also once employed Baker Botts to lobby policymakers in Washington. From late 2006 to mid-2008, Thaksin spent more than $1.1 million on lobbyists’ fees, according to lobbying disclosure records.
The Thai government, which has sought to put Thaksin on trial, has also hired new lobbyists in recent weeks.
Those firms are likely to be battling to get their message out against the firms hired by Thaksin.
Thailand’s government signed the Podesta Group to a $240,000, three-month contract in early June. Podesta will “provide public-relations services and counsel to protect the international reputation of the foreign principal,” according to Justice Department records.
John Anderson, a principal with the Podesta Group, said the firm had contracted with the Thai Finance Ministry to help with media training for spokesmen and outreach to press outlets.
“The general goal is to help the government get its messages out and make sure they are being given reasonable consideration by journalists, and to help restore investor confidence and tourism as quickly as possible,” Anderson said in an e-mail to The Hill.
Thailand also employs two firms, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld and Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg, to keep U.S. trade preferences open for Thai products.