Mazda Motor of America is turning to its lawyers at Willkie Farr & Gallagher to fill a rare need for an outside lobbyist.
The lobbying registration, filed this week, shows that Willkie special counsel Russell Smith is lobbying on the consistency of the Foreign Manufacturers Legal Accountability Act with World Trade Organization rules. The legislation, which is still pending in Congress, would require foreign manufacturers to establish a U.S. presence, making it easier to sue them.
Smith said Mazda is a client of the firm - and of his - on trade issues. Past work "has not involved situations where we would have direct contact with government officials," he said, but the company wanted Smith to lobby on this bill. Lobbying disclosure records show that Mazda has spent $150,000 lobbying so far this year, but employs no other outside lobbyists.
Smith was counsel to the Republican members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee from 1984 to 1988. Before that, he was special adviser and director of the Office of Automotive Industry Affairs at the International Trade Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce.