Gladstone Place resigns account with Saudi Public Investment organization

The boutique firm quit the account this week following the disappearance of a 'Washington Post' columnist.

Photo credit: Getty images
Photo credit: Getty images

NEW YORK: Gladstone Place Partners resigned its nearly $200,000 account with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Vehicle this week, according to an agency spokesperson.

Gladstone was tasked with supporting the country’s NEOM project, a $500 billion mega-city project designed to diversity the country’s oil-reliant economy, according to filings with the Justice Department. 

Services provided by Gladstone included communications and strategic advice directed at U.S. audiences for NEOM announcements, events, and conferences, according to public records. The firm pledged to not interact with U.S. government officials or try to influence U.S. policy on behalf of the Public Investment Vehicle in the contract, which was signed in July. Gladstone disclosed it twice contacted Fortune on behalf of its client on March 28 and April 5. "Both contacts were related to the 2019 Fortune Global Forum," according to the filings.

Gladstone CEO Steve Lipin registered as a foreign agent on September 12.

The boutique agency declined to comment further.

The resignation followed scrutiny of lobbyists’ work for Saudi Arabia after Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi went missing after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. According to media reports, Turkish officials have evidence of Khashoggi being killed inside the building. The Saudi government has denied any involvement.

Lipin launched Gladstone in 2017. He previously handled work for foreign governments at Brunswick Group, where he was U.S. senior partner, including on behalf of the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority.

Lobbying firm the Harbour Group ended its relationship with the Saudi government on Thursday, according to The New York Times, which reported that other K Street firms may follow suit.

Executives including Richard Branson and Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, as well as media outlets, have dropped out of the Saudi Future Investment Initiative, known colloquially as "Davos in the Desert," since the Khashoggi story broke.

Other firms that have worked on behalf of Saudi Arabia or Saudi entities, according to FARA filings, such as FleishmanHillard, Glover Park Group, Qorvis Communications, and Hill+Knowlton Strategies, did not respond to requests seeking comment. Brunswick Group declined to comment.

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