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Broidy scores a win in hacking case | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #hacker


With Daniel Lippman

BROIDY SCORES A WIN IN HACKING CASE: GOP fundraiser Elliott Broidy scored a legal victory on Friday in his bid to expose possible involvement by Qatari lobbyists in the alleged hacking and dissemination of a trove of Broidy’s emails.

— In a ruling Friday evening, U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich ordered former Qatari agents Nicolas Muzin, Gregory Howard and Joey Allaham, lobbying firm Stonington Strategies and several other third parties to turn over a set of documents sought by Broidy’s lawyers in the case, rejecting Qatar’s claims that the documents are privileged.

— Broidy’s long-running crusade to uncover the details of how his emails ended up in the hands of news outlets took a promising new turn over the summer when Allaham settled the case and turned over a trove of documents to Broidy’s legal team, fueling the accusation that Qatar’s attorneys at Covington & Burling improperly concealed key evidence in the suit.

— Ultimately, Friedrich sided once again with Broidy in ruling that the documents sought were not official documents of the Qatari diplomatic mission that would be protected under the Vienna Convention.

— “Many of these documents are email or chat messages among Qatar’s third-party advisors that contain no work or even draft work product that was ultimately shared with Qatar,” she wrote, noting that they “appear to draw on press reports, public information, and the consultants’ own expertise. As best the Court can tell, they contain no information from any Qatari source at all.”

— Friedrich also agreed that in part because FARA allows the Justice Department to inspect documents related to foreign agents’ activity, Qatar — which itself was dismissed from the case years ago — had little reasonable expectation of confidentiality for the documents. “Qatar’s arguments against production are entirely devoid of merit,” Friedrich wrote in the order.

— Broidy’s gambit wasn’t entirely successful, though. In a second opinion Friday, Friedrich denied a motion from Broidy’s lawyers for a forensic inspection of devices belonging to the defendants and their lawyers as well as lawyers for Qatar — who filings showed offering feedback to one of Allaham’s responses during discovery.

— Friedrich said some responses Covington proposed for Allaham to give in the case were “aggressive, to be sure.” But she also said she was “not convinced” that Allaham’s former lawyers at ArentFox Schiff “acted in bad faith or with a desire to conceal evidence” when incorporating that feedback. Either way, Broidy “has not pointed to the kinds of ‘discrepancies and inconsistencies in … document production’ that would outweigh the costs of a forensic investigation,” she wrote.

Happy Monday and welcome to PI. Send lobbying tips and gossip: [email protected]. And be sure to follow me on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter: @caitlinoprysko.

HOW MICROSOFT SAVED ITS ACTIVISION DEAL: Microsoft’s nearly two-year fight to seal its megadeal to buy the gaming company Activision “has served as a striking demonstration of the power of a legal, policy and influence machine which costs more than $1bn a year to run,” Financial Times Richard Waters and Arjun Neil Alim write, and makes the company “one of the most effective American companies in practising a new form of global corporate diplomacy to advance its interests.”

— “Getting the Activision deal across the line meant defeating a US government effort to block it in court, while also persuading UK regulators to allow an eleventh hour reworking of a transaction they had already decided to reject. It also involved winning over regulators in many other jurisdictions — including Brussels, where Microsoft was once deeply distrusted — at a time when acquisitions by big tech companies face significant opposition.”

— “The deal’s completion against the odds, marks the culmination of more than two decades of work to recast the reputation of a company that was once seen as the tech world’s pre-eminent bully.”

— “Under Brad Smith, who became its top legal officer in 2002 and also took on the title of president in 2015, Microsoft has long worked to present a more conciliatory face to regulators. … Yet while completing the deal would amount to a notable victory at a time when acquisitions by big tech companies are scarce, it may also bring a turning point in Microsoft’s relations with regulators around the world.”

CONGRESSPERSON WANTS DETAILS ON PENTAGON CLEARANCE PROCESS: A GOP lawmaker is demanding more information from the Pentagon about the process it used to vet a high-ranking department official who previously worked for the Qatari Embassy, as political pressure grows on the Biden administration to take a tougher stance on Doha’s relationship with Hamas.

— In a letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin last week, Rep. Jack Bergman (R-Mich.) for the second time expressed concern about Yousra Fazili, who serves as chief of staff to Pentagon comptroller and CFO Mike McCord.

— Prior to joining the executive branch in 2020, Fazili worked for three years as director of strategic partnerships at the Qatari Embassy. According to her LinkedIn, Fazili managed a Qatari economic development and disaster relief fund and “travelled with and advised the Ambassador on strategic philanthropic giving across the US and Caribbean.”

— “Ms. Fazili’s role as an important strategic advisor for any foreign Ambassador should, at a minimum, call into question her ability to maintain high-level security clearances, never mind to serve in one of the most sensitive staff positions at the Pentagon,” Bergman wrote in a August letter to Austin, noting that Fazili’s work for the Qatari ambassador overlapped with spying allegations against the Gulf nation.

— Bergman asked for the “results of the Pentagon’s due diligence regarding Ms. Fazili’s work for and relationship with the State of Qatar, as well as what safeguards have been put into place to prevent her from influencing decisions or policies related to the Persian Gulf region, if any.”

— In a three-paragraph response to Bergman last month, DOD’s Rheanne Wirkkala said that Fazili was hired and vetted “in accordance with all appropriate laws and policies,” but Bergman argued in his latest letter that “this matter is even more urgent now” in light of the Israel-Hamas war.

— While Qatar is working to broker the release of hostages held by Hamas, Bergman noted in his letter that Qatar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs claimed Israel was “solely responsible” for Hamas’ surprise attack on civilians earlier this month, adopting the Palestinian militant group’s rhetoric.

BUSINESS AVIATION INDUSTRY TOUTS SUSTAINABILITY: A collection of trade groups representing the business aviation industry is set to launch a new campaign on Tuesday to tout the sector’s role in pioneering new advancements to help lower emissions and the industry’s pledge to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

— So far the coalition includes the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, the Experimental Aircraft Association, the Helicopter Association International, the International Aircraft Dealers Association, the International Business Aviation Council, the National Aircraft Finance Association, the National Air Transportation Association and Women in Corporate Aviation. The campaign will include digital ads as well as the launch of a website, social media accounts and a PR campaign.

HALEY STRATEGIST’S FIRM HIT WITH HARASSMENT SUIT: “A political consulting firm working to elect presidential candidate Nikki Haley is being sued by a woman who alleges she was sexually assaulted by a superior — and that top officials at the firm did nothing about it,” Daniel and Holly Otterbein report.

— “Mark Harris, a cofounder of the Pittsburgh-based firm ColdSpark, is mentioned in the lawsuit, which was filed in August in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania. Harris is the lead strategist for Haley’s super PAC, SFA Fund Inc. ColdSpark is also consulting for Dave McCormick, the GOP Senate candidate in Pennsylvania.”

— “A former ColdSpark junior employee alleged in the suit that at a work dinner in late 2021 she was groped by Ryan Reynolds, a vice president of the firm who left about a year later. She asserted that senior management was made aware of the incident but did not address it.”

Jeremy Neuhart, a spokesperson for ColdSpark, Harris and co-founder Mike DeVanney, “said the firm and the defendants deny her allegations and that many of them ‘fail as a matter of law,’” while Reynolds in a statement called the accusations “frivolous” with “zero merit.”

Issue One has promoted Gideon Cohn-Postar to legislative director. He was previously a legislative manager.

Tara DiJulio has been promoted to the newly created role of chief corporate affairs officer at GE Aerospace, where she will continue to serve as chief communications officer.

Glen Echo Group is adding Isabela Kent as an associate and Halley Roth as a senior associate. Roth previously served as an associate at Penn Quarter Partners.

Ross Branson is now director of government affairs for Saildrone. He previously was executive director for the Center for Infrastructure and Economic Development, and is a Trump administration and Capitol Hill alum.

Sarah Mucha is now a director of public affairs at SKDK. She previously was a politics reporter at Axios, and is a CNN alum.

Victory NOW for Alsobrooks (Victory Now PAC, Alsobrooks for Senate)

Wyden Fund for a Senate Majority (Sens. Sherrod Brown, Bob Casey, Hoops PAC, Ohio Democratic Party — Federal, Pennsylvania Democratic Party)

California Majority PAC (Hybrid PAC)

MICHIGAN’S KEY ELECTION PAC (Super PAC)

NEPA Next PAC (Leadership PAC: Rob Bresnahan)

One Level Higher (Super PAC)

Surgeons Future PAC (Super PAC)

Stop AI (Super PAC)

Armory Hill Advocates (Formerly Known As Rawlson Policy Group): Opuscare Of Florida

Baker Donelson Bearman Caldwell & Berkowitz / The Daschle Group: Freedom For All Americans

Baker Donelson Bearman Caldwell & Berkowitz / The Daschle Group: Lite Run

Baker Donelson Bearman Caldwell & Berkowitz / The Daschle Group: Medify Air

Baker Donelson Bearman Caldwell & Berkowitz / The Daschle Group: Valneva USa, Inc.

Baker Donelson Bearman Caldwell & Berkowitz / The Daschle Group: Youth America Grand Prix (Yagp)

Barnes & Thornburg, LLP: Soltec LLC

Cassidy & Associates, Inc.: Wilder Systems Inc

Cj Lake, LLC: Husch Blackwell Strategies Obo San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District

Cj Lake, LLC: Husch Blackwell Strategies On Behalf Of Alameda County Transportation Commission

Cj Lake, LLC: Husch Blackwell Strategies (On Behalf Of County Of Merced)

Cj Lake, LLC: Husch Blackwell Strategies On Behalf Of Ventura County Community-Navy Action Par

Ferox Strategies: Center For Artificial Intelligence Policy

Hogan Lovells US LLP: Aerospike Inc.

Horizon Government Affairs: Davita, Inc.

Horizon Government Affairs: Evergreen Nephrology

Jamison And Sullivan, Inc.: Pacific Northwest Generating Cooperative

Lewis-Burke Associates, LLC: Accelerate – The National Collaborative For Accelerated Learning

Ogilvy Government Relations: Everly Health

Thegroup Dc, LLC: Newrange Copper Nickel LLC

Thorn Run Partners: Niquan Energy LLC

Baker Donelson Bearman Caldwell & Berkowitz / The Daschle Group: American Museum Of Natural History

Bgr Government Affairs: Americans For Transparency And Accountability

Bgr Government Affairs: Cdr Maguire

Blue Ridge Law & Policy, P.C.: Halo Investing

Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, LLP: Booth Creek Resort Properties, LLC

Chapman And Cutler LLP: Chamber Of Digital Commerce

Cj Lake, LLC: Alameda County Transportation Commission

Cj Lake, LLC: County Of Merced

Cj Lake, LLC: San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District

Cj Lake, LLC: Ventura County Community-Navy Action Partnership

Holland & Knight LLP: Gulf Marine Repair Corporation

Holland & Knight LLP: Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority

K&L Gates, LLP: Accelergy Corporation

K&L Gates, LLP: California State University Maritime Academy

K&L Gates, LLP: Minority Business Association D/B/A Minority Cannabis Business Association Mcba

K&L Gates, LLP: Triad Semiconductor, Inc.

Mchugh Lemay Assoc., LLC: The Espy Corporation

Minority Business Association Dba/Minority Cannabis Business Association, Mcba: Minority Business Association Dba/Minority Cannabis Business Association, Mcba

Perry, White, Ross & Jacobson, LLC: National Strategies

Prism Group: Page 30 Coalition

Ten Government Strategies, LLC: Auguste Escoffier School Of Culinary Arts

Ten Government Strategies, LLC: South Hills School Of Business & Technology

The Livingston Group, LLC: Adam Terry & Co. LLC (On Behalf Of City Of Jonesboro Ar)

The Livingston Group, LLC: Adam Terry & Co. LLC (On Behalf Of City Of Ruston La)

Tiber Creek Group: Legacy Community Health Services

Upstream Consulting, Inc.: Nextmed Holdings

Velos (Formerly Pinnacle Engineering And Management Solutions): Phase Four Inc

Woolf Strategic Solutions Group: Rehope

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