Updated at 3:06 p.m.
Blank Rome Government Relations on Tuesday informed Congress that it stopped lobbying for The Hershey Co. less than five months after the firm began to advocate for the chocolate maker.
The firm ended its relationship with Hershey on Dec. 31, according to a lobbying termination report filed with Congress. Blank Rome had lobbied the House and Senate for Hershey since Aug. 24 on "[g]overnment affairs issues related to labor practices," congressional records show.
Blank Rome principal Ashley Davis and member Abigail Goldstein, as well as senior advisers Melissa Foxman and Caroline Martin, who is no longer with the firm, advocated for the company. Hershey paid the firm $50,000 for its lobbying work.
Blank Rome spokeswoman Melissa Volin said the lobbyists completed "the project" Hershey hired the firm to do. But she declined to elaborate on their work. A Hershey representative couldn't be reached for comment.
Environmental and human-rights activists have expressed concerns about labor practices that exist in West African nations that supply cocoa used by Hershey, which is involved with several projects aimed at improving working conditions in the region. Raise the Bar, Hershey!, a coalition led by Green America, Global Exchange and the International Labor Rights Forum, in October sent the candy maker a 100,000-signature petition urging the company to stop buying cocoa that the activists say is produced with forced or child labor.
Hershey also has faced criticism for wages at a Palmyra, Pa., facility run by an outside company that packs Hershey candies. Hundreds of foreign students in August walked off their jobs at the plant, claiming they were underpaid. The protesters accepted their employment as part of an exchange program that brings university students to the United States to work and learn about American culture.
Hershey spent $395,000 on its federal government advocacy during the first nine months of last year, according to the company’s most recent lobbying reports. The candy maker lobbied on a variety of issues, including matters related to nutrition, candy ingredients and labor standards.