The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Two more Washington lobbying firms drop representation of Saudi Arabia in wake of alleged killing of Jamal Khashoggi

People hold signs at the Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Washington during a demonstration over the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi on Oct. 10. (Jacquelyn Martin/AP)

Two more Washington lobbying firms dropped their representation of Saudi Arabia on Monday amid an escalating uproar about the disappearance and alleged killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, according to people familiar with the decisions.

The Glover Park Group notified the Saudi Embassy in Washington that is was canceling its two-year-old contract to represent the kingdom, according to a person with knowledge of the move. The consulting firm, which was established in 2001 by Democratic political veterans, had been receiving a fee of $150,000 a month to help the Saudis with a range of government relations issues, according to disclosure reports filed with the Justice Department.

Separately, the GOP-founded lobbying powerhouse BGR Group, which had an $80,000-a-month contract with the Saudi government, announced it was also dropping the kingdom as a client.

The Post's Karen DeYoung explained why the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi could change the U.S. and Saudi Arabia relationship. (Video: Joyce Lee/The Washington Post)

“BGR is no longer working for Saudi Arabia,” said Jeffrey H. Birnbaum, president of BGR’s public-relations division.

In all, three major Washington lobbying firms have severed ties with Saudi Arabia in the wake of reports that Khashoggi, a contributor to The Washington Post, was killed inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul this month. Late last week, the Harbour Group announced it was terminating its relationship with the kingdom.

Khashoggi’s alleged killing puts pressure on Saudi Arabia’s lobbying corps in Washington

The defections underscore the depth of the crisis facing Saudi Arabia, which plowed $27 million into lobbying in Washington last year, making it one of the highest-spending countries seeking to influence U.S. policy, according to public records.

On Monday, the Saudi Embassy canceled a long-planned reception that had been set to be held Thursday evening honoring the country’s annual National Day, which commemorates the renaming of the kingdom in 1932.

Guests who were invited to the celebration at the Saudi Embassy received a short email Monday morning informing them that the event was off.

“Please be advised that the reception for the National Day of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on Thursday, October 18, from 6:00 pm-8:00 pm has been canceled,” said the email, according to a copy obtained by The Washington Post. It did not explain the reason for the change in plans.

The reception, which had been planned for weeks, would have been part of a weeks-long celebration. An embassy spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.