Riyadh’s hiring binge comes as disagreements over Iran have caused the deepest strains to US-Saudi ties since the days after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, 2nd right first row, poses with Shura members in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia’s lobbying efforts are getting a high-tech boost from some of America’s most politically well-connected consulting firms amid growing tensions with Iran.
The kingdom’s main public relations firm, Qorvis, hired Republican digital outreach firm Targeted Victory for $40,000 per month in mid-March to help “provide strategic advice and digital consulting services for the promotion of and education on Saudi Arabia.” Targeted Victory will be paid another $15,000 per month for analysis of social media tracking data provided by San Francisco startup Zignal Labs.
Targeted Victory was co-founded by Zac Moffatt, digital director for the 2012 Romney for President Campaign, and former Republican National Committee official Michael Beach, and represents several high-profile Republican candidates and causes. Zignal Labs is the brainchild of Josh Ginsburg, former field director for the Romney campaign and before that political director for former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
In addition, the Saudi Embassy in Washington has just retained California-based international law firm Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman for another $15,000 per month to provide “legislative advice” and “public policy representation” before Congress and the Obama administration.
The new contracts are among several recent changes to Middle Eastern nations’ efforts to influence the US government, according to an Al-Monitor review of lobbying disclosure reports available as of early April. Taken together, they indicate a stepped-up desire to get through to key US decision-makers as the region experiences a radical upheaval.