Roger Stone retroactively registers lobbying contract

Roger Stone retroactively registers lobbying contract
© Greg Nash

Roger StoneRoger Jason StoneOvernight Finance: Hatch announces retirement from Senate | What you can expect from new tax code | Five ways finance laws could change in 2018 | Peter Thiel bets big on bitcoin Roger Stone retroactively registers lobbying contract Roger Stone suing Twitter over suspension MORE, a longtime political operative with ties to President TrumpDonald John TrumpDems flip Wisconsin state Senate seat Sessions: 'We should be like Canada' in how we take in immigrants GOP rep: 'Sheet metal and garbage' everywhere in Haiti MORE, has retroactively registered as a lobbyist for a venture capital firm wanting to invest in commodities in Somalia. 

His registration, which showed up in a federal lobbying disclosure database last week, says the work began on May 1 of last year.

Stone is working for Capstone Financial Group, a firm based in New York, which “buys physical commodities and transforms them into customized and consumable products,” its website reads.

The advocacy work, according to the disclosure forms, revolves around “[c]ommodity rights and security of the same in Somalia.”

Although Stone’s work began last year, filing lobbying registration documents after 45 days — the deadline under the law — is not uncommon and enforcement of disclosure laws is lax. It was first reported by Legistorm, a congressional tracking website.

Forms say the contract began on May 1, though Stone told The Hill in an email that the lobbying activities — talks with elected officials — didn't occur until November. That timeline fits within the law.

"I was not initially contracted by Capstone to engage in any lobbying activities," he wrote. "Later, although not initially contemplated, the discharge of my responsibilities included casual [conversation] on two occasions with a single member of Congress about [the] status of the insurgency and the security of Somalia."

He said he consulted with compliance lawyers on "numerous occasions" and registered as a lobbyist under an abundance of caution. He will be filing a quarterly report for the activity he did in November by Jan. 20, the deadline for fourth quarter disclosures. Those forms will detail how much the Capstone Financial Group paid.

"It may be argued that my casual contact with a member of the house on the broader foreign-policy issues facing Somalia do not even constitute lobbying but I filed out of an abundance of caution and on the advice of multiple counsel," he told The Hill.

The al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab extremist group has been carrying out deadly attacks in the country, likely including one in October that killed more than 500 people and injured at least another 300 others. The Trump administration has announced it would be stepping up efforts to combat the terrorist group, angering al-Shabab. The terrorist group has threatened to retaliate with deadlier attacks.

In the economic investment sector, Somalia has one of the largest herds of livestock in the world, according to the Somali Stock Exchange, which makes it the most commonly traded commodity in the country.  

The U.S. Agency for International Development is currently working to “accelerate Somalia’s growing integration into the global economy through a combination of initiatives that improve the country’s competiveness; spur new investments; and increase market linkages and business partnerships.” 

Many other Trump-connected figures have retroactively registered as lobbyists in recent months, including his former campaign chairman, Paul ManafortPaul John Manafort'Total free-for-all' as Bannon clashes with Intel members Overnight Cybersecurity: Bipartisan bill aims to deter election interference | Russian hackers target Senate | House Intel panel subpoenas Bannon | DHS giving 'active defense' cyber tools to private sector Manafort associate Richard Gates no longer under home confinement MORE, and his former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Manafort and Flynn, unlike Stone, were engaging in work that benefitted foreign governments and registered with the Justice Department under the Foreign Agents Registration Act. This is different than the Lobbying Disclosure Act, the law governing lobbying for domestic entities overseen largely by the House and Senate.

— This post was updated on Jan. 3