Lobbyists for Morocco go on a meeting spree soon after political upheavalBy Lindsay Young May 26 2011 10:14 a.m. 1 comment
A nonprofit established by the government of Morocco went on a lobbying frenzy earlier this year, coinciding with the time when pro-democracy demonstrations in the country took an ugly turn. The Moroccan-American Policy Council, which is the registered agent of the Moroccan government met with 130 congressional offices on February 23, 24 and 25 just days after the riots broke out, FARA records show.
Protests in the country started on February 1, when a protestor lit himself on fire, immitating the incident that sparked the Tunisian revolt and in a few weeks turned violent with riots on February 21. A bank was set on fire and five deaths resulted from the unrest. The country's interior ministry estimated 40,000 people turned out in 57 towns and cities across the country against King Mohommed VI's rule.
The Policy Council, which was started in 2004 to inform public opinion about the country and strategic developments in the middle-east and North Africa is an initiative of the ruler.
The government of Morocco paid the nonprofit more than $2.3 million in 2010 for lobbying and other services and have paid the organization $795,000 since the beginning of 2011.
Employees of the Moroccan-American Policy Council donated $20,000 to campaigns and political action committees in the 2010 campaign cycle. Their largest contributions went to the Mario Diaz-Balart R-Fla., his brother Lincoln Diaz-Balart R-Fla., and Nita Lowey D-N.Y. FARA filings show that on February 23 two days after the deadly Moroccan riot, the director of government relations contributed another $2,500 to Mario Diaz-Balart.
Two of their employees are registered lobbyists. The center's director, Edward Gabriel served as an ambassador to Morocco in the early 80’s. Fatima-Zohra Kurtz is also listed as a director and was a political counselor in the Embassy in Morocco, forms filed with the Internal Revenue Service show.
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