Last night and today, there was repeated mention that the Thai government had hired a foreign lobbyist in the U.S. Checking the U.S. Department of Justice website, you do have a filing by Davenport McKesson Corporation which can be found here. The foreign principal is listed as the “Government of Thailand/Foreign Ministry”. The key parts are:

BP: Initially, BP didn’t notice, but if you look at (6) it is an admission by the agent that they have no written agreement with the Thai government or any correspondence.

Also, (7) states Thailand seeks military assistance in establishing a safe harbor zone around its waters… but (8) states that it has set up a safe harbor zone in the South East China Sea.

A search on Google shows there is no South East China Sea (or at least no one commonly refers to this as anything). There is the South China Sea:

Source: EIA

BP: There is a well-known dispute in the South China Sea that involves the Philippines and China in particular but also Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, and Indonesia. You could say as a neighbour Thailand is interested, but it is not an issue on the radar for Thailand. BP has never seen any mention of Thailand so would Thailand’s waters be in the “South East China Sea”?

Now, you are thinking, but the firm has filed as a foreign agent. Yes, but the Foreign Ministry has an official denial saying they have no connection at all with that company (และไม่มีส่วนเกี่ยวข้องใดๆ กับบริษัทดังกล่าว). That alone is not enough, but Politico had this story a few days ago:

CLIENTS: WE NEVER HIRED DAVENPORT MCKESSON: Two “clients” of a company calling itself Davenport McKesson have denied ever hiring the firm. In late November, Davenport filed lobbying registrations with the Department of Justice and the U.S. Senate to represent the University of Maryland and the government of Thailand. (PI reported on both off the public documents.) The problem? Both clients tell PI the registrations are fake and that they never engaged Davenport McKesson on any lobbying business.

“The assertion that Davenport McKesson Corporation is representing the University of Maryland as part of a contract with the state of Maryland is a complete fabrication. I don’t know the nature or intent of their false filing, nor do I know why this person or people chose the University of Maryland, but we contacted the secretary of the Senate, Office of Public Records, to alert them,” Andy Clark, assistant vice chancellor for government relations, told PI.

Similarly, according to a Thai embassy official: “The embassy has not engaged any service from Davenport McKesson nor is it aware of any Thai government agency doing so with the company.”

Initially contacted, Davenport’s Christopher Montgomery cited a staff-level mix-up and said his contract was with the State of Maryland not the university. Contacted again after the state of Maryland denied having a lobbying contract with Davenport, Montgomery told PI that the contract was actually with the Maryland Economic Development Corporation, or MEDCO. MEDCO Executive Director Robert Brennan said no such contract existed. Montgomery said he wouldn’t want to get in any “mud-slinging” with MEDCO and said that the relationship was pro bono and had been terminated in any case. Montgomery refused to comment on the statement from the Thai embassy. He then engaged in a bizarre and rambling email back-and-forth with PI before challenging our “prowess as a reporter” and saying that we have “a bad press instinct” and “there is no story to report here.”

So what do we know about the so-called lobbying firm Davenport McKesson?

— It has no other lobbying registrations other than for Thailand and the University of Maryland, according to public records.

BP: Politico then provides additional details about what Davenport states and how official records contradict this (although the name of the Foreign Minister and the address are not really incorrect as there are multiple ways to transliterate a name into English and the address is roughly accurate), but when Davenport admit they have no formal agreement with Thailand and it is their word alone and given the oddness of what they claim to be lobbying on behalf of Thailand for, and they seem to have the problem with the truth, there is a lot of doubt whether they really are a new lobbyist for Thailand’s government…