Arnold & Porter extends lobbying contract for Turkey on F-35 jet program

Signage is seen outside of the law firm Arnold & Porter at their legal offices in Washington, D.C., U.S.
Arnold & Porter legal offices in Washington, D.C. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
  • The law firm's $1.5 million contract extends earlier engagement
  • Turkey was removed from jet program in 2019 after buying a Russian-made radar system

(Reuters) - Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer has extended for one year a lobbying contract with Turkey over its participation in a U.S. F-35 fighter jet program, according to newly disclosed U.S. Justice Department records.

Arnold & Porter's $1.5 million contract for "strategic counsel and legal consultancy services" was disclosed on Sept. 20 and runs until Aug. 2022.

The Washington, D.C.-based law firm publicly submitted its contract under the federal Foreign Agents Registration Act, which requires law firms, lobbyists and public relations professionals to reveal certain engagements with foreign clients that go beyond litigation services.

Turkey first hired Arnold & Porter in February for six months to lobby for readmission to the fighter-jet modernization program after the Trump administration suspended the country's participation. Turkey was removed from the program in 2019 by the U.S. Department of Defense after purchasing a Russian missile defense system.

In March, Turkey's defense industry chief said the country was not necessarily seeking to rejoin the jet program but rather had set a primary goal of compensation for losses.

Arnold & Porter partner Raul Herrera and L. Charles Landgraf, a senior counsel, did not immediately return a message seeking comment on Wednesday. Representatives from Turkey who are working with Arnold & Porter were not immediately reached for comment.

The lobbying contract requires Arnold & Porter to "advise on a strategy" for Turkey to "remain within the Joint Strike Fighter Program" while "taking into consideration and addressing the complex geopolitical and commercial factors at play."

Arnold & Porter said it would "undertake a targeted outreach to the U.S. commercial partners and stakeholders" within the program to "sound out and understand their interests" in Turkey's "continued involvement as a strategic ally and valued partner."

Other international partners in the F-35 program include the United Kingdom and Canada.

A report in July from the U.S. Government Accountability Office said the F-35 program was "more than 8 years delayed and$165 billion over where it originally expected to be at this point." More than 600 aircraft have been delivered as part of the program "to the U.S. services, allied partners, and foreign military sales customers," the report said.

Arnold & Porter has long had a lobbying relationship with Turkey, federal records show. The firm has lobbied for other international clients including El Salvador, Israel's finance ministry, Korea's ministry of trade, Argentina, Honduras and Venezuela.

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