Lobbyists Settle Foreign Agent Registration Violations

Posted 1/3/24

A Virginia lobbyist and a New Jersey political consultant each have entered into Deferred Prosecution Agreements (DPAs) to resolve allegations that they failed to comply with the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) and committed related offenses while representing the government of Qatar.

Barry P. Bennett, 60, of Alexandria, Va., owned and operated Avenue Strategies, LLC and Avenue Strategies Global, LLC, a pair of consulting firms in Washington D.C.  Douglas Watts, 73, of Jersey City, N.J., is a former presidential campaign consultant who also founded and ran a lobbying and public relations company.

In 2017, Bennett signed a contract for Avenue Strategies to perform lobbying services for the embassy of Qatar. As part of his lobbying strategy on behalf of, and for and in the interest of Qatar, Bennett covertly operated Yemen Crisis Watch, a Limited Liability Company (LLC) founded by Watts at Bennett’s direction.

As directed by Bennett and managed by Watts, Yemen Crisis Watch ran a public relations campaign designed to cast Qatar’s rivals, Saudia Arabia and the U.A.E., in a negative light, and thereby to improve Qatar's standing with the U.S. government relative to these rivals.

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