To investigate high-powered lobbying firms' advocacy for "corrupt, dictatorial foreign regimes," Harper's Washington editor Ken Silverstein posed as "Kenneth Case" of "The Maldon Group," a fictitious London-based firm which he said had "a financial stake in improving the public image" of Turkmenistan. An excerpt of Silverstein's article on Harper's website describes his meeting with Cassidy & Associates. Cassidy lobbyists said their work for Equatorial Guinea was "a very similar sort of representation to what you're talking about" for Turkmenistan, and boasted of getting President Teodoro Obiang off Parade Magazine's "worst dictator" list. They also trumpeted the firm's "strong personal relationships" with policymakers. According to the Wall Street Journal, both Cassidy and APCO Associates suggested "an aggressive campaign against 'biased' news stories, organizing conferences at which sympathetic views could be aired, finding ways to get members of Congress to take paid trips to Turkmenistan and emphasizing how much the U.S. would benefit if Turkmenistan further opened its economy to outside investment." APCO further "recommended holding forums for journalists, academics and politicians, hosted by a third party, where a Turkmen politician could give a speech."
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