keeping an eye on the Kingdom's PR
Nature of Business: Government lobbying and public relations
The Homer Building, Eleventh Floor South
601 Thirteenth Street NW
Washington, DC 20005 (map)
|Fees and Expenses: $238,500|
Relationship with Bahrain Government
The BGR Group (Barbour, Griffith & Rogers) is a prominent Washington DC lobbying company founded by current governor of Mississippi Haley Barbour. It was hired by Bahrain's Economic Development in or before June 2011 (when it first registered this work in House lobbying disclosure documents). The job, as declared in the disclosure documents, entails providing "guidance and counsel to promote stronger trade relations between U.S. and Bahrain" by lobbying the House of Representatives.
For the period covering the second quarter of 2011, BGR declared receiving $50,000 for its work related to this contract. All subsequent lobbying disclosures BGR since then have declared receiving less than $5,000 per quarter. However this appears significantly less than the amount listed on the Bahrain government's Tender Board website, which states that in January 2012 BGR was awarded a contract worth BD 90,000 (US$ 238,500) for an unspecified period of time.
It is also worth noting that BGR's work for the Economic Development Board appears to go back well before June 2011. In August 2009, the pro-government Bahraini newspaper Gulf Daily News published an article about Morris Reid, Managing Director at the BGR Group. The article started by presenting Reid as an independent business expert, but later explained:
"Part of Mr Reid's role at BGR Group is increasing diplomatic relations between America and Bahrain by matching up interested American companies with relevant investment opportunities in the country."
The same pro-government publishing house printed another fluff piece in March 2010 about Reid's visit to Bahrain, without explaining the purpose his visit.
Fees and Expenses
Total amount is unclear, but a single contract awarded to BGR in January 2012 was worth BD 90,000 ($238,500)
Date of Hiring
It appears that work has been ongoing since before August 2009, however BGR first registered its work for the EDB in House lobbying disclosure documents in June 2011.
- Bahrain Tender Board: Awarded tenders of January 2012 (see item no. 149)
- House lobbying disclosure: Lobbying registration of BGR Group for Bahrain Economic Development Board, June 2011
- House lobbying disclosure: Lobbying Report, Q2 2011
- House lobbying disclosure: Lobbying Report, Q3 2011
- House lobbying disclosure: Lobbying Report, Q4 2011
- House lobbying disclosure: Lobbying Report, Q1 2012
- House lobbying disclosure: Lobbying Report, Q2 2012
In December 2011, an undercover investigation exposed how BGR Gabara (BGR Group's European wing) had planned to organize a social media campaign to target the singer Sting, after he cancelled a concert in Kazakhstan due to the Kazakh government's human rights abuses. Details in the links below:
- The Bureau of Investigative Journalism: PR company proposed campaign against Sting, December 1, 2011
- The Bureau of Investigative Journalism: In Video: BGR Gabara exposed, December 7, 2011
- The Independent: Kazakhstan: PR firm's plan to target Sting after gig boycott, December 8, 2011
- Gulf Daily News: Perfect 'peace envoys', Aug 30, 2009
- Gulf Weekly: Bahrain offers a range of opportunities, says expert, March 30, 2010