WASHINGTON — The firm of a political consultant who became a Twitter sensation after being misidentified in the Egyptian press as a U.S. senator has been vehemently defending the military crackdown on protesters and has reached out to lobbyists in the U.S. on behalf of foreign clients, according to a top-level associate at the company.
According to Ibrahim Magdy, a "political psychologist" who is listed as the Vice President for Political Affairs in Egypt for Maurice Bonamigo & Associates, the firm helped a number of candidates in Egypt's parliamentary elections.
"Not Muslim Brotherhood," Magdy said in a telephone call with BuzzFeed. "Some of them belong to the old system, the old system of [former president Hosni] Mubarak." He said the candidates were "moderates" but declined to name any of them.
"Not always, not always," Magdy said when asked if they were working in any way for the military, which has launched a bloody crackdown on protesters in the streets of Cairo. "I have connection with the military. It comes by chance but I'm not motivated to work with them, I work with civic people more than them."
Magdy said that Bonamigo, who has done multiple interviews defending the ouster of Mohamed Morsi and the military's takeover of the government, was frequently interviewed because "his speech sounds nice for Egyptian people so other media ask him to appear."
Magdy added that the firm's Egypt branch is expanding its reach into the U.S.
"I have opened connections with the Arab-American lobby," Magdy said. "We haven't started work, only negotiations."
In a conversation with BuzzFeed, Bonamigo denied having reached out to American lobbyists on behalf of Egyptian clients.
"We're not lobbying anything," Bonamigo said. "We don't reach out to anybody. People reach out to us."
"It's none of your business what we do," Bonamigo said. "Our clients are very respectable. We don't divulge who our clients are."
Magdy named two U.S. persons with whom he has been in contact: Sahar Aziz, a Texas-based law professor who said she had never heard of Magdy or Bonamigo when reached by BuzzFeed, and Randa Fahmy Hudome, a lobbyist who has previously lobbied for the regime of deposed Libyan dictator Moammar Qaddafi.
Reached by phone, Fahmy Hudome confirmed that she had been contacted by a representative of Bonamigo's firm.
"I just learned about Maurice, I didn't know who he was and I've been in Republican politics for 30 years," Fahmy Hudome said. "Somebody who works for his firm contacted me this week."
"I was very interested in what they're doing there," Fahmy Hudome said.
Fahmy Hudome, a former Bush administration official, runs a lobbying group called the American Egyptian Strategic Alliance and frequently talks to members of Congress and members of the administration about Egypt, she said.
"What Egypt is going through right now, we've gone through similar things, and we can't have short memories," she said. "We advocate continuing aid to Egypt, both military and economic."
Asked if he had any plans to file with the Department of Justice, Bonamigo said he did not and threatened to file a restraining order against BuzzFeed.
"I don't need a 22-year-old child to tell me what the rules and regulations are," he said.
Rosie Gray is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, D.C. Gray reports on politics and foreign policy.
Contact Rosie Gray at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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