In the weeks before President Donald Trump visited Saudi Arabia on his first foreign trip, the Saudi government hired three US lobbying firms to do its bidding in Washington, including an obscure group made up of former Trump advisers that will
The Saudis have now added six U.S. lobbying firms since Trump's election in a bid to improve frayed relations with the United States -- and to capitalize on a president who skewered them as a candidate but is now seen as an ally.
The Saudi Interior Ministry hired Sonoran Policy Group of Arizona in May -- the day after Trump announced he would visit Saudi Arabia -- as a "government affairs and commercial sector adviser" for $5.4 million, according to records the firm filed with the Justice Department. That's a startling sum even in the lucrative business of lobbying for foreign governments.
Sonoran's lobbying work over the years has focused on small domestic clients including California technology companies, federal records show. It had no experience representing foreign governments until December.
But it does have extensive ties to Trump.
Sonoran hired in December as its president Stuart Jolly, the political director of a pro-Trump political-action committee that raised $28 million and the Trump campaign's former national field director.
"Stuart is really one of the geniuses and brains behind this great human experiment that Donald Trump did," Sonoran owner Robert Stryk said in an interview in January. He marveled at Jolly's access to Trump after Sonoran secured its first foreign client, the New Zealand government.
"I text Stuart Jolly and say we need to get Mr. Trump to talk to the Prime Minister of New Zealand. Within 30 minutes this man got us the private cellphone of Mr. Trump," Stryk told the New Zealand Herald.
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