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“A lot of people have bought a lot of summer homes and fishing boats and put their grandkids through college by lying about Armenia and covering up for Azerbaijan,” he said.

The Armenian National Committee and another group, the Armenian Assembly of America, tried to put pressure on Mercury by holding protests outside its offices in Washington and Los Angeles and urging Mercury’s clients to cut ties with the firm if it kept representing Turkey.

The campaign had an effect. Kathryn Barger, the chairwoman of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, and Hilda Solis, a supervisor and former Labor secretary in the Obama administration, wrote to Mercury on Wednesday to urge the firm “to immediately sever any business ties with the Republic of Turkey.” (Mercury is a contractor to Los Angeles County, which is home to a large Armenian population.)

California state Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon and 16 other state lawmakers told Mercury on Thursday they wouldn’t engage with the firm as long as it represented Turkey. And the Los Angeles Community College District informed Mercury that it would “begin to exercise the 30-day termination clause” in its contract if Turkey remained a client.

Mercury declined to comment. The Turkish embassy didn’t respond to a request for comment.

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The Armenian pressure campaign comes as Washington has started to turn its focus toward the fighting.

Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) introduced a resolution earlier this month condemning Azerbaijan and Turkey’s role in the conflict, which has drawn 67 co-sponsors. And Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met separately on Friday with the Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan and Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov in an effort to end hostilities.

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Turkey and Azerbaijan aren’t bereft of lobbying power now without Mercury, which Turkey hired in January on a contract scheduled to run through the end of the year, according to a copy filed with the Justice Department. The firm was charged with helping to organize events that would let Turkey “connect with public policy stakeholders” and with advising the Turkish government on media relations.

Turkey also retains the lobbying firms Capitol Counsel and Greenberg Traurig while Azerbaijan’s government retains BGR Group, according to disclosure filings. The countries’ lobbyists include former Reps. Bill Delahunt (D-Mass.), Charles Boustany (R-La.), Randy Forbes (R-Va.) and Albert Wynn (D-Ma.).

The Armenian government, meanwhile, hired former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole last month for help in Washington.

Another former lawmaker, former Rep. Bob Livingston (R-La.) of the Livingston Group, stopped representing Azerbaijan’s government last week, according to a disclosure filing, although it’s unclear whether Livingston was actually lobbying for the country.

Asmar Yusifzada, a spokesman for Azerbaijan’s embassy in Washington, wrote in an email to POLITICO that the country hadn’t had contact with Livingston in more than a decade.

Livingston didn’t respond to a request for comment. Capitol Counsel and Greenberg Traurig declined to comment.

Hamparian said he planned to ramp up pressure on BGR Group now that Mercury has capitulated. But BGR might be a tougher target: The firm said in a statement that it “intends to continue its representation of Azerbaijan.”




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Pierre ‘Pete’ du Pont IV dies; ran for president in 1988

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“I was born with a well-known name and genuine opportunity. I hope I have lived up to both,” du Pont said in announcing his longshot presidential bid in September 1986.

As a presidential candidate, du Pont attracted attention for staking out controversial positions on what he hoped would reverberate with voters as “damn right” issues. They included random drug testing for high school students, school vouchers, replacing welfare with work, ending farm subsidies, and allowing workers to invest in individual retirement accounts as an alternative to Social Security.

Some of those ideas have since become more mainstream.

He won the endorsement of New Hampshire’s largest newspaper but failed to gain traction among voters. He ended his campaign after finishing next-to-last in the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary.

Afterward, du Pont remained engaged in politics. He frequently wrote opinion pieces for publications such as the Wall Street Journal and co-founded the online public policy journal IntellectualCapital.com. He also served as chairman of Hudson Institute, the National Review Institute and the National Center for Policy Analysis, a nonpartisan public policy research organization.

Pierre du Pont IV was born Jan. 22, 1935, in Delaware. After attending Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire, he graduated from Princeton University in 1956 with an engineering degree. Following a four-year stint in the Navy, he obtained a law degree from Harvard University in 1963.

He joined the Du Pont Company, where he held several positions, resigning as a quality control supervisor in 1968 to begin his political career.

After running unopposed for a state House seat in 1968, he immediately set his sights on Congress, running as a fiscal conservative and winning the first of three terms in 1970.

Elected governor in 1976, du Pont fought successfully to restore financial integrity to a state he had declared “bankrupt” shortly after his inauguration. He presided over two income tax cuts; constitutional amendments restricting state spending and requiring three-fifths votes in the legislature to raise taxes; and establishment of an independent revenue forecasting panel.

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After a rocky start with Democratic legislators, including an embarrassing override of a 1977 budget veto, du Pont forged successful relationships with lawmakers from both parties to tackle thorny issues including prison overcrowding and corruption and school desegregation. He was re-elected in a landslide in 1980, winning a record 71 percent of the vote and becoming the first two-term governor in Delaware in 20 years.

In his second term, du Pont signed landmark legislation that loosened Delaware’s banking laws, including removing the cap on interest rates that banks could charge customers. The Financial Center Development Act made Delaware a haven for some of the country’s largest credit card issuers.

Under du Pont’s leadership, Delaware also established a nonprofit employment counseling and job placement program for Delaware high school seniors not bound for college. It served as the model for a national program adopted by several other states.

Prohibited by law from seeking a third term, du Pont briefly withdrew to the private sector, joining a Wilmington law firm in 1985. A year and a half later, he announced his bid for the GOP presidential nomination, becoming the first declared candidate in the 1988 campaign.

During an appearance at the Hotel du Pont in downtown Wilmington, where du Pont announced he was abandoning his presidential campaign, he praised an electoral process that gave a shot at the White House to a former small-state governor with unorthodox ideas.

“You’ve given me the opportunity of a lifetime. You listened, you considered and you chose. I could not have asked for any more,” du Pont said. “For in America, we do not promise that everyone wins, only that everyone gets a chance to try.”

Du Pont is survived by his wife of over 60 years, the former Elise R. Wood; a daughter and three sons; and 10 grandchildren.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, a memorial service will be held at a later date, Perkins said.


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Larry Hogan decries ‘circular firing squad’ within GOP

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Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said Sunday the Republican Party experienced its “worst four years we’ve had, ever” under President Donald Trump, noting the party’s losses in both chambers of Congress and the White House.

“We’ve got to get back to winning elections again. And we have to be able to have a Republican Party that appeals to a broader group of people,” said Hogan, a Republican, on NBC News’ “Meet the Press.” “Successful politics is about addition and multiplication, not subtraction and division.”

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Hogan’s comments comes as Republicans deliberate on the future of Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) in the party’s House leadership, particularly over her repeated criticisms of Trump, which many Republicans view as breaking ranks and distracting from the party’s opposition to President Joe Biden. House Republicans are expected to strip Cheney of her role as conference chair and replace her with Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.).


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Gov. Hogan pardoning 34 victims of racial lynching in Maryland

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Earlier this year, the Maryland Lynching Memorial Project and students at Loch Raven Technical Academy petitioned Hogan to issue the pardon for Cooper. After receiving the request, the Republican governor directed his chief legal counsel to review all of the available documentation of racial lynching in Maryland.

“Justice has not been done with respect to any of these extrajudicial killings, which violated fundamental rights to due process and equal protection of law,” according to a draft clemency document that Hogan is scheduled to sign.

Hogan and other state officials are scheduled to attend a ceremony in Towson, Maryland, next to the former jailhouse where Cooper was held. A historic marker will be unveiled at the site in a partnership with the Baltimore County Coalition of the Maryland Lynching Memorial Project, the Equal Justice Initiative and Baltimore County.

The sign says Cooper’s body was left hanging “so angry white residents and local train passengers could see his corpse.”

“Later, pieces of the rope were given away as souvenirs,” the sign s ays. “Howard’s mother, Henrietta, collected her child’s remains and buried him in an unmarked grave in Ruxton. No one was ever held accountable for her son’s lynching.”

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The ceremony is part of a continuing effort by the Maryland Lynching Memorial Project, a group of 13 county chapters that is working to document the history of lynching in the state.

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In 2019, a marker in Annapolis, the state capital, commemorated the five known Black men who were hanged or fatally shot without trial in Maryland’s Anne Arundel County.

The Equal Justice Initiative has documented more than 6,500 racial lynchings in the country.

Will Schwarz, who is president of the memorial project, described the posthumous pardons as a powerful moment in acknowledging the truth — a critical step toward reconciliation. He said the history of racial terror lynching in the United States has been ignored for so long that most people don’t know the scale of the problem.

“We have a responsibility to try and dismantle that machine of white supremacy and this is a big piece of it, acknowledging the violation of civil rights and of due process that were a part of these awful lynchings,” Schwarz said.

There have been 40 documented lynching cases in Maryland, Schwarz said. In some of those cases, the victims were not yet arrested, so they were not part of the legal system and not eligible for the posthumous clemency approved Saturday by Hogan.

Two years ago, state lawmakers created the Maryland Lynching Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which is the first of its kind in the nation. The commission was formed to research lynchings and include its findings in a report.


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