Legislation & Lobbying

Michael Cohen brought top client to BigLaw firm; other consulting clients have regrets

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Michael Cohen reportedly referred five possible clients to Squire Patton Boggs during his strategic alliance with the firm, including one that appears to be a top lobbying client. But some of the companies that separately hired Cohen, including a telecom heavyweight and a European-based drugmaker, aren’t as satisfied with their decision.

Cohen was paid $500,000 a year and a cut of the fees from client referrals in an alliance with Squire Patton Boggs that was terminated in March. The BigLaw firm also benefited, the National Law Journal reports.

One potential client referred to Squire Patton Boggs by Cohen, who is also President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, was the U.S. Immigration Fund, the Wall Street Journal reported. The company, which has ties to White House adviser and presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner, pairs businesses with foreign investors who hope to gain U.S. residency through a program requiring an investment in job-creating businesses.

Squire Patton Boggs received $220,000 for lobbying on the fund’s behalf last year, and another $150,000 this year. It is one of the firm’s top 10 lobbying clients so far in 2018, according to information from OpenSecrets.org cited by the National Law Journal.

Cohen has also benefited from his separate consulting work, but some of the companies that paid him are having regrets.

AT&T’s chief executive Randall Stephenson said in an email to employees on Friday that the company had made a “big mistake” by hiring Cohen as a political consultant. The New York Times has the story. The memo also revealed that the company’s top lobbyist, Bob Quinn, has retired, report the National Law Journal and Reuters. Quinn is a former Mayer Brown lawyer said to have overseen the hiring of Cohen.

AT&T initially said it hired Cohen “to provide insights into understanding the new administration.” But the Washington Post obtained documents indicating that AT&T had paid Cohen $600,000 for help on many issues before the government, including the proposed $85 billion merger with Time Warner pending before the U.S. Justice Department. The department filed an antitrust lawsuit in November seeking to block the combination.

The contract included a provision that Cohen would not spend any time lobbying. Cohen is not a registered lobbyist.

The CEO of pharmaceutical company Novartis, Vasant Narasimhan, also expressed his regrets about his company’s $1.2 million payment to Cohen, Politico reports.

Cohen also received $500,000 in consulting money from the investment firm Columbus Nova, which has ties to Viktor Vekselberg, a sanctioned Russian oligarch.

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