The Government of Cameroon may hold the ignominious distinction of having the record for the most lobbying contracts terminated in recent memory. Over the past two years, no less than four different public relations and lobby firms, based in Washington, DC, have dropped the government as their client.
It is no secret that the shady world of whitewashers willing to work for corrupt authoritarians is a lucrative one. Those inclined to prioritize profit over principle are legion, especially in Washington. The de facto one-party dictatorship in Cameroon, ruled by President Paul Biya since 1982, is no different. What is unusual, however, is the growing number of firms that are unwilling or otherwise unable to continue working on its behalf.
The latest example came last month when Clout Public Affairs – a division of Axiom Strategies, a Republican consulting outfit – officially terminated its agreement with Cameroon. For $55,000 a month, the firm was tasked with “promoting the positive and favorable image of Cameroon,” including “placing targeted op-eds in conservative-oriented outlets.” Surely, this was no small feat given the country’s troubling descent into arguably the most neglected humanitarian disaster on the planet – one that has conservatively displaced more than 600,000 people – and a simmering post-election crisis that dates back to October 2018.
One year prior to Clout dropping Cameroon, another well-known lobby shop, Glover Park Group, terminated its own $600,000 deal with the government. And this severing of ties came on the heels of yet another, Mercury Public Affairs, doing the same in August 2018. This latter deal was a 12-month contract that included an eye-popping $100,000 in monthly payments.