More lobby shops foreign owned

While lobbying by U.S. subsidiaries of foreign corporations has come under scrutiny in recent years, little attention has been paid to foreign ownership of American lobby firms.

Last week, a major D.C. shop, Glover Park Group, was acquired by the communications conglomerate WPP, which is based in Ireland and the UK.

Although Glover Park will bring major clients into the fold, WPP already had a big footprint in Washington. It owns Hill & Knowlton, Ogilvy Government Relations, Prime Policy Group, Quinn Gillespie, and Wexler & Walker Public Policy Associates.

No other foreign company has such reach in the U.S. However, WPP is not the only overseas owner of an American lobbying firm.

The Publicis Groupe, based in Paris, owns MSLGroup, which operates in Washington, New York and six other North American cities. The company’s D.C. office is headed by Neil Dhillon, former legislative assistant to Rep. Tom Luken (D-OH); former legislative director, speechwriter and press secretary for Rep. Beverly Byron (D-MD); former chief of staff to Rep. Robert Matsui (D-CA); and former deputy assistant secretary of government affairs at the Transportation Department during the Clinton administration.

Foreign buyers are careful to preserve their American brands, typically allowing subsidiaries to continue operating under their original names.

With a well-known name and a staff of Washington veterans, the lobby shop is generally perceived as local, despite its new ownership.

Having a former member of Congress on staff certainly helps. Those working for WPP-owned shops include:

  • Robert Cramer – A Democrat from Alabama who served nine House terms (1991-2009). Cramer chairs Wexler & Walker Public Policy Associates.
  • Robert Walker – A Republican from Pennsylvania who served in the House from 1977 to 1997. He is now executive chairman of Wexler & Walker.
  • John Tanner – A Tennessee Democrat elected to 11 House terms (1989-2011). Tanner is vice chairman of Prime Policy Group.
  • Norm Mineta – A Democrat from California who was elected to 11 House House terms (1975-95) before serving as Commerce secretary under Bill Clinton and Transportation secretary under George W. Bush. Mineta is now vice chair of public policy at Hill & Knowlton Strategies.

The Glover Park deal reflects a couple of trends in the lobbying industry. The first is consolidation, with many firms joining forces or being absorbed by larger companies over the last dozen years.

The second, especially noticeable in large parent companies, is the offering of a broad range of complementary services such as advertising and marketing, public affairs, interactive and digital development, crisis management and lobbying.

The big players in this battle for dominance are WPP, Publicis Groupe and two top American firms, Interpublic Group and Omnicom.

One of WPP’s other companies, for example, is Blue State Digital, the tech firm that designed online fundraising for Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign.

New York-based Interpublic Group owns advertising operations such as Campbell Ewald and McCann Erickson, along with the prominent D.C. lobby firm, Cassidy & Associates.

Having a spectrum of services also helps parent companies weather cyclical ups and downs.

Martin S. Sorrell, chief of WPP, has predicted that the presidential election will help boost his firm’s revenues by as much as 4 percent. After the election, when advertising revenues taper off, the company is positioned for increases in lobbying activity.

But does the pattern of acquisitions signal globalization of the lobbying sector? Not completely. WPP can move financial jobs from the U.S. to India, but lobbyists need to be close to the agencies and officials they’re lobbying.

Corporate headquarters may shift. (Indeed, WPP moved its executive offices from London to Dublin three years ago to lower its tax bills.) But lobbyists are likely to stay put.

Clients Represented by WPP Owned Lobbying Firms in 2011:

A.O. Smith Corporation Kinetic Concepts Incorporated
ABF Freight Systems, Inc. Knights of Columbus
ACCUS Korein Tillery, LLC
Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. Kosmos Energy LLC
Advault, Inc. Laser Card Corporation
AFLAC Incorporated Lockheed Martin Corporation
Agustawestland North America Inc. Maersk Inc.
Air Pacific LTD. Major League Baseball Players Asociation
Airbus Americas, Inc. (Formerly Airbus North America Holdings, Inc.) Mammoth Mountain Ski Area
Aircraft Owners & Pilots Association Marriott International, Inc.
Alliance For American Manufacturing Marwood Group, LLC
Allied Telesis, Inc. Mba Polymers, Inc.
Alstom Power Inc. McShane Construction Company
Ameren Company Mda Information Systems, Inc.
American Airlines Metlife Group, Inc.
American Association of Nurse Anesthetists Microsoft Corporation
American Bankers Association Mlba Services, Inc
American Business Media Monitor 360
American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, Inc. MTS
American Career College Nalco Company
American Chemistry Council National Assn of Affordable Housing Lenders
American Freedom Innovations, LLC National Association of Broadcasters
American Kidney Fund National Association of Home Builders
American Medical Association National Association of Realtors
American Medical Response National Automobile Dealers Association
American Petroleum Institute National Bank
American Psychological Association National Council of State Boards of Nursing
American School Bus Council National Council on Family Violence
American Science and Engineering, Inc. National Federation of Independent Business
America’s Health Insurance Plans, Inc. (AHIP) National Federation of State High School Associations
America’s Natural Gas Alliance National Football League
AmeriLink Telecom Corporation National Renal Administrators Association
Amgen Inc. National Restaurant Association
Apollo Group, Inc. National Retail Federation
APTS Action, Inc National Rifle Association, Institute For Legislative Action
Arizona Chemical National School Transportation
ASEA Brown Boveri, Inc. National September 11 Memorial & Museum
Association of American Medical Colleges National Venture Capital Association
Association of Dutch Insurers Neu Holdings Corp
Association of Global Automakers, Inc. New American Economy Action Fund
Astoria Generating Company, L.P. Newport News – Williamsburg International Airport
AT&T Services, Inc. and Its Affiliates News America, Inc.
Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp NISH
Better World Fund North American Metal Packaging Alliance, Inc.
Bickel & Brewer (on behalf of St.Joe Company) Norwalk Community Health Center
Bioscrip Inc. Novozymes North America Inc.
Blackrock Capital Management, Inc. Nuclear Energy Institute, Inc
Bloomberg LLP Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide
Blue Ridge Networks Oncor Electric Delivery
Bnsf Railway Company (fka Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway) Open Allies For Airfare Transparency
Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Opower
Brinker International, Inc Optinuity Alliance Resources Corporation (Formerly Mbia, Inc)
Bristol-Myers Squibb Company Oxbow Carbon LLC
Broadway League Patient First Corporation
Canadian National Railway Company Peter N.G. Schwartz Management Company
Capital Partnerships (VA) Inc. Pfizer, Inc
Cash America International, Inc. Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America
Cayman Finance Pink International Corporation
Center For Arms Control & Non-Proliferation PJM Interconnection, L.L.C.
Ceridian Benefits Services, Inc. Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Inc.
Cfa Institute Poker Players Alliance
Chevron U.S.A. Inc. Prairie Capital L.P.
Chrysler Group, LLC Presbyterian Healthcare Services
Churchill Downs Incorporated PricewaterhouseCoopers, LLP
Cirrus Aircraft Corporation Progress Energy Service Company, LLC
CIT Group, Inc.
City of Boca Raton, Florida Qualcomm, Incorporated
City of Miramar, Florida Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY)
City of Muncie Recording Industry Association of America
City of Weston Regence
Civic Action For A Democratic Nicaragua/Permanent Commission on Human Rights Roaring Fork Transportation Authority
Clean Line Energy Partners LLC Rosetta Stone
Climate Protection Action Fund Royal Caribbean Cruises LTD.
CME Group, Inc. Ryan, Inc.
Coda Automotive, Inc. Safety Kleen Systems, Inc.
Comcast Corporation Santa Clara County
Compete America Satcon Applied Technology/Rct Sytems
Conservation Trust of Puerto Rico Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association
Constellation Energy Group Sempra Energy
Consumer Healthcare Products Association Senate of Puerto Rico
Cook Children’s Health Care System Seneca Nation of Indians
Cord Blood Registry Sierra Nevada Corporation
Cummins Inc./Earth University Sithe Global Power, LLC
Dean Foods Company Skyterra / Lightsquared
Dendreon Corporation Solyndra, Inc.
Deutsche Boerse A.G. Sony Electronics Inc.
Digitalglobe, Inc. Space Exploration Technologies
Disney Worldwide Services, Inc. Space Systems/Loral, Inc.
Dunkin’ Brands, Inc. Sporting Goods Manufacturing Association
Dupont Company Sprenger and Lang PLLC
EADS North America Spring Trading Inc.
East Texas Electric Cooperative Standard Chartered Bank
Eclipsys Corporation Star Atlantic
EDF Inc. State Farm Insurance Companies
Education Finance Council, Inc. State of Alaska
Education Management LLC Stoneriver Holdings, Inc.
Electric Power Supply Association Sunrun Inc.
Electricity Storage Association Sybase, Inc
Electrolux USA Takeda Pharmaceuticals America, Inc.
Elster Solutions, LLC Taser International, Inc.
Enbridge Energy Company Inc. Technet
Entergy Nuclear Northeast (Formerly Listed As Entergy Corporation) Textron Systems Corporation
Enterprise Holdings, Inc. The Blackstone Group
Epsilon Data Management, LLC The Coalition For Educational Success: Preparing The New American Workforce
Ernst & Young The Coca-Cola Company
Evergreen International Airlines, Inc. The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc.
Everis USA, Inc. The Huntsville Hospital Foundation
Evidon, Inc. The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy
Evolution Markets, Inc. The Nielsen Company (Formerly Nielsen Media Research)
Exelon Corporation The Science Coalition
Expedia, Inc. The Travelers Cos., Inc. and Subsidiaries The Umicore Group
Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas The Washington Post on behalf of Kaplan, Inc.
Federation of State Medical Boards of The US The Williams Companies Inc.
FedEx Corporation Thompson Coburn, LLP
First Data Corporation T-Mobile USA, Inc.
Footwear Distributors & Retailers of America Toyota Motor North America, Inc. (TMA)
Forest County Potawatomi Community Legal Dept Toys R US
Friends of The Global Fight Against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria Transmission Developers, Inc.
Gamesa Corporacion Tecnologica S.A. Trueposition, Inc
General Dynamics Corp U S Chamber of Commerce
General Electric Company (Including Subsidiaries) U.S. Global Leadership Campaign
Geneva Trading USA, LLC U.S. Travel Association
Genomatica, Inc. UC Group
Genon Energy, Inc. Ultrawave Labs Inc.
Girardi & Keese Union Pacific Corporation
Glaxosmithkline, Inc United For Medical Research
Go United Motorcoach Association
Google Inc. United Technologies Corporation
Grocery Manufacturers Association Unitedhealth Group, Inc.
Gtech Corporation Universal Investment Group
Gwinett Place Community Improvement District University of Miami
Harris Corporation Univision Communications Inc.
H-E-B Vectren Corporation
Hecla Mining Company Venable LLP
Hess Corporation Veolia Transportation
Highstar Capital Verax Biomedical, Inc.
Hilton Worldwide Verizon Wireless
Hong Kong Trade Development Council Vertex Pharmaceuticals Incorporated
Horizons BetaPro Exchange Traded Funds Viacom Inc
Hydrostar Virgin America Airlines
IMS Health, Inc. Virtua
Ingersoll Rand Visa, Inc.
Intellicheck Mobilisa, Inc. Vitol, Inc.
Interactive Gaming Council Wal-Mart Stores, Inc
International Business MacHines Corporation (IBM) Warner Music Group
International Federation of Accountants Weight Watchers International, Inc.
International Franchise Association Welch Resources, Inc.
Investment Company Institute White Wave Foods Company
Ipc-Association Connecting Electronics Industries Wight & Company
J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. Wild Well Control, Inc.
Jarrow Formulas, Inc. Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati (on behalf of Kerry Killinger)
Kaye Scholer LLP Word & Brown Companies
Kellogg Company WPP Group USA, Inc.
Kellogg, Huber, Hansen, Todd, Evans & Figel P.L.L.C Zurich
Kelly Services, Inc.


  1. […] when UK-based WPP acquired Glover Park Group in 2011 they had a combined knowledge of Bill and Hillary Clinton, Al […]

  2. […] when UK-based WPP acquired Glover Park Group in 2011 they had a combined knowledge of Bill & Hillary Clinton, Al […]

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