TURKEY, LIVINGSTON CUT TIES
By Kevin Bogardus

The Hill
http://thehill.com/leading-the-news/turkey-li vingston-cut-ties-2008-03-31.html
April 1 2008
DC

Turkey has parted ways with former House Appropriations Committee
Chairman Bob Livingston (R-La.), whose lobbying firm has represented
the country for the past eight years.

Turkey has not renewed its longstanding contract with The Livingston
Group, and is instead transferring its main lobbying business to DLA
Piper, a multinational law firm that had split the government-relations
workload with Livingston over the past year.

Former House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Texas), a senior policy
adviser with DLA Piper, will replace Livingston as Turkey's top GOP
lobbyist with Congress. Armey, who lobbied alongside Livingston last
year, will partner with former House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt
(D-Mo.), who lobbies Democrats for Turkey at DLA Piper.

It is unclear whether Turkey or Livingston initiated the split,
which both sides insisted was amicable.

"We have enjoyed a wonderful relationship for eight years, we've had a
lot of legislative victories together, and we wish the Turkish people
lots of continued success and happiness in the future," Livingston
said in a statement to The Hill.

Livingston's group did not respond to questions about whether the
contract hampered business with other clients.

Turkey Ambassador Nabi Sensoy, who said Livingston helped transfer
the lobbying business to DLA Piper, released a statement praising
the lawmaker as "a gentleman of remarkable capabilities and stature."

Sensoy also noted that Turkey had begun to restructure its lobbying
team by hiring DLA Piper last year, and described that as part of
a transition.

"Last year, we initiated a restructuring of our counsel and engaged
DLA Piper. The Livingston Group stayed on as part of our counsel during
a period of transition. As of now we continue to work with DLA Piper,
Mr. Gephardt and Mr. Armey," said Sensoy.

The parting of Turkey and The Livingston Group ends one of the more
lucrative Washington lobbying contracts for foreign governments. In
April 2006, Turkey renewed its relationship with Livingston through
a year-long contract worth $1.8 million.

In May 2007, Turkey hired DLA Piper on a $100,000-per-month contract
while retaining Livingston.

The Livingston Group saw a substantial decline in payments from Turkey
after DLA Piper was added to the account. In 2006, when it was the
top firm, Livingston took in a little more than $1.8 million. But
in 2007, when it was sharing the workload with DLA Piper, Livingston
earned just over $1 million, according to Justice Department records.

For its part, DLA Piper took in more than $1.3 million from Turkey
in the first nine months of 2007. It has yet to report earnings from
foreign clients for the remainder of the year.

Turkey's hiring of DLA Piper fit into a trend in which foreign
governments are putting more of their resources into Democratic
lobbyists. Armey indicated Turkey hired his firm because it had
stronger ties to Democrats than did The Livingston Group.

"It was time to be with some representation that was more expansive
to both sides of the aisle," said Armey.

Turkey mounted a massive lobbying campaign last year to defeat
a resolution describing as genocide the killings of Armenians by
Ottoman Turks in the early 20th century.

Activists were optimistic a Democratic Congress would pass the measure,
which had the support of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), but
Turkey was able to beat it back partly by threatening to cut supplies
to U.S. military forces.

Though the resolution passed the House Foreign Affairs Committee,
many of its co-sponsors withdrew their support after meeting with
Turkey's lobbyists. That, along with pressure from Republicans and
the Bush administration, forced Pelosi to postpone a floor vote on
the resolution last year.

In 2000, the resolution was close to a House floor vote, but then-House
Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) withdrew the measure at the request of
President Bill Clinton. Armey, who was majority leader at that time,
opposed the resolution.

"As I worked on it then as majority leader, my position still is our
current concern should be what current policy interests are best for
this country," Armey said. "It was easy to make those same arguments
I made as majority leader with President Clinton."

Activists who support passage of the resolution have criticized firms
in the past for lobbying for Turkey.

Livingston's group did not say whether such criticism hurt business
with other clients.

In lobbying for Turkey, Armey plans to emphasize how vital the Muslim
democracy is to the United States.

"On a broader-scale basis, folks in the United States and in Congress
need to have a better understanding of the strategic importance that
Turkey has," said Armey. "Turkey has been a very good citizen of the
world, far more than it has been recognized or appreciated."