CANADIAN LOBBYIST WILL REPRESENT VENEZUELAN PRESIDENTIAL HOPEFUL: A Venezuelan political party has hired Ari Ben-Menashe, a Canadian lobbyist based in Montreal, to convince the Trump administration to support its candidate’s claim to the country’s presidency. The Progressive Advance party’s candidate, Henri Falcón, a former state governor, lost to President Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela’s widely criticized 2018 elections. The party hired Ben-Menashe’s firm, Dickens & Madson, in May to lobby “the governments of the Russian Federation, United States and any other mutually agreed upon country or countries,” according to a copy of a contract filed with the Justice Department. The contract is worth $200,000.
— In an interview, Ben-Menashe said he planned to lobby the White House on Falcón’s behalf, describing him as a “compromise candidate” between Juan Guaidó, Venezuela’s opposition leader, and Maduro, who remains in power. He declined to discuss his efforts to lobby Russia but said that he believed “the only people who can get Maduro to step down peacefully are his own military and the Russians.”
— Ben-Menashe attracted criticism last month after signing a $6 million deal to lobby Washington, Moscow and Riyadh on behalf of the military leaders of Sudan. The contract specified that Ben-Menashe would “strive to arrange a public meeting between The Honorable President Trump” and Sudan’s military leadership, as well set up meetings for “senior Russian and other political figures,” and help “obtain funding and equipment for the Sudanese military,” among other objectives. The contract was filed with the Justice Department weeks after Sudan’s military was accused of killing more than 100 people in a crackdown on protesters in the capital, Khartoum.
— In the interview, Ben-Menashe said such criticism was unfair. He spoke out against Sudan’s military for the killings while he was in the country, he said, which led the regime to confiscate his passport and seek a refund of the money it had paid his firm. “We were detained in a dungeon for five days,” he said, followed by another two weeks in a luxury hotel before being released. The main objective of the Sudan lobbying campaign, he said, is “to help get a civilian prime minister in place.”