Cohen referred client with Kushner ties to lobbying firm
One of the clients Michael Cohen referred to law and lobbying firm Squire Patton Boggs during a “strategic partnership” is a company with ties to Kushner Cos., according to The Wall Street Journal.
That company, U.S. Immigration Fund LLC, became a client of the firm last year and had previously organized a trip for Kushner Cos., the family business of White House adviser and President Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner that is currently under federal investigation.
Earlier this year, federal prosecutors wrote in a legal filing that Cohen had referred five clients to Squire Patton Boggs as part of a strategic partnership with the firm that ended this March.
As part of the agreement, it said, Cohen would be paid an annual $500,000 “strategic alliance fee,” in addition to a cut of fees paid by the clients he brought in.
Much of Cohen’s business dealings are being investigated by the U.S. attorneys’ office in New York, though there have been no charges filed.
Federal authorities raided Cohen’s home, office and hotel room in April.
U.S. Immigration Fund, an EB-5 visa regional operator, has been lobbying to keep the program alive. The EB-5 visa program allows for eligible international investors to receive U.S. green cards.
Disclosure filings show that Squire Patton Boggs began lobbying for the company in June 2017 and the firm has not filed any termination paperwork. The U.S. Immigration Fund has so far paid the firm $370,000 since the work began, including $150,000 in the first three months of 2018.
Lobbyists have been advocating before Capitol Hill, the Small Business Administration, the Department of Homeland Security, and the White House Office of Management & Budget, according to federal forms.
Squire Patton Boggs did not return a request for comment on this latest report.
U.S. Immigration Fund had worked closely with Kushner Cos., including organizing a trip to China last year where Kushner’s sister, Nicole Meyer, pitched investors on putting money into commercial and residential towers in exchange for a visa, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The presentation contained several references to Kushner’s position in the White House and relationship with the president, according to CNN.
Upon returning from the trip, Kushner Cos. learned that the Brooklyn U.S. attorney’s office and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission were opening investigations into its use of the EB-5 visas. The company has maintained that it has done nothing improper or illegal.
Years ago, when Kushner served as chief executive of Kushner Cos., the U.S. Immigration Fund had also helped raise $50 million for a luxury apartment complex.
In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, U.S. Immigration Fund said it terminated its affiliation with Kushner Cos. following the negative publicity from the trip. Federal prosecutors in the Brooklyn U.S. attorney’s office are reviewing video of Meyer’s presentation.
Nicholas Mastroianni II, the CEO of U.S. Immigration Fund, told the Wall Street Journal that Cohen had referred him to Edward Newberry.
Newberry, who serves as the global managing partner for policy, regulation and compliance at Squire Patton Boggs, was recently promoted to help lead the lobbying shop, according to an internal memo obtained by The Hill.
Squire Patton Boggs, whose Washington office is among the top 10 highest grossing lobbying shops in the industry, partnered up with Cohen after the election. He worked out of its New York office, but the firm says he did not serve as an employee and worked at arm’s length. The firm terminated its relationship with Cohen in March.
“At all times, Cohen maintained his independence, was not an employee of the firm, and did not maintain files or bill clients through the firm,” Squire Patton Boggs spokesman Angelo Kakolyris told The Hill earlier on Wednesday.
Reports emerged on Tuesday that multiple corporations had paid Essential Consultants LLC, a shell company set up by Cohen, to provide advice about the Trump administration and legal work in 2017.
That’s the same shell company that Cohen used to pay the adult-film actress Stormy Daniels $130,000 before the 2016 election to keep quiet about her alleged affair with Trump.
Companies, including AT&T and the drug company Novartis, paid Cohen during the time he was working out of Squire Patton Boggs offices, but the firm says it wasn’t aware of the LLC or the payments.
“We have never paid any money to, nor were we aware of, Essential Consultants LLC and we’ve never performed work for any of the identified entities as a result of our past arrangement with Cohen,” Kakolyris said.
The firm gave a similar statement to HuffPost, which first reported the distancing of the firm from Cohen.
AT&T paid Cohen a total of $200,000 from late 2017 to early 2018, and Novartis paid him a total sum of $1.2 million, even after the company determined he was “unable” to do the health care consulting for which it had hired him. According to health care trade publication Stat News, Cohen had promised Novartis access to Trump and his inner circle.
Kakolyris said the investigation into Cohen has nothing to do with Squire Patton Boggs.
“The search warrant executed by the FBI on Mr. Cohen’s office had nothing to do with matters handled by the firm, neither our firm nor any of our clients are involved in the federal investigation of Cohen,” Kakolyris said.