HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, November 6, 2016) – The Federated States of Micronesia’s government has hired an “A-list” law firm and Washington, D.C., lobbyist, which would cost the tiny island nation $420,000 in a year, according to the lobbyist’s recent disclosure with the Justice Department.
The amount the FSM government has agreed to pay Arnold & Porter LLP for one year exceeds what the island nation paid for previous Washington lobbyists in total over 16 years, from as far back as 1998, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics.
In 2013, and the more than a dozen years before that, the FSM government’s spending on a Washington lobbyist has been minimal – from $10,000 in a year to as much as $46,500 – compared to what it would spend now, according to the center’s data.
The FSM hired Arnold & Porter as the FSM government prepares to further discuss its future political relationship with the United States under its Compact of Free Association, a deal that has greatly affected Guam.
Guam has hosted the largest number of FSM immigrants, who are free to enter any part of the United States without the stringent tests such as family ties, health screening, job skills or financial means, that immigrants from other countries must pass.
Gov. Eddie Calvo also recently commuted the sentences of convicted criminals to free up the island’s prison and send most of them home on one-way tickets back to the FSM, an issue that the FSM government has said should be a matter between the U.S. and them, and not for the local government of Guam to decide.
On Oct. 27, the Washington lobbyist reported in its required public disclosure, as an agent for a foreign entity, that the FSM government hired it to provide legal and advisory services on issues related to the Compact.
The agreement between the FSM and the lobbyist states the law firm would advise “the foreign principal on matters relating to the Compact of Free Association.”
The law firm would also assist the FSM “in its upcoming negotiations with the United States leading to an updated Compact relationship beginning in the year 2023,” according to the lobbyist’s disclosure with the Justice Department.
The Compact allows the United States to use the FSM’s land, seas and airspace for defense purposes when the need arises.
The U.S. also has given FSM citizens free entry into the United States and $568.3 million in federal grant funds between fiscal 2007 and 2011, according to a U.S. Government Accountability report.
The FSM is a federation of four states and has a population of approximately 103,000 as of 2010, according to the GAO.
The FSM government didn’t report hiring lobbyists over the past two years.
Arnold & Porter describes itself as an “A-list” law firm, which has provided legal services to nearly half of the top 100 of America’s companies. [/restrict]