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ICANN reveals $1m of not-lobbying lobbying expenses

Kevin Murphy, November 20, 2015, 10:45:45 (UTC), Domain Policy

ICANN has revealed how much it has spent so far on a few controversial professional services firms that have been accused of “lobbying” the US government on behalf of the organization.

It said today that between July 2015 and September 2015 it spent $1,070,438 on six companies providing “Education/Engagement” services related to the transition of IANA from US government oversight.

Two of the payees are consulting firms run by former high-level US officials.

One is Albright Stonebridge Group LLC, founded by Clinton-era secretary of state Madeleine Albright.

The other is Rice Hadley Gates LLC, which counts W-era officials Condoleeza Rice, Stephen Rice and Robert Gates as its principles.

The $1 million figure also includes payouts to PR firm Edelman, which has been working with ICANN for as long as I can remember, a video production company, and two other consultants.

It’s substantially less than the $2.4 million spend estimated by Kieren McCarthy, whose public-forum questions at the last two ICANN meetings and subsequent The Register article seem to be responsible for the latest disclosures.

McCarthy, in heated public clashes with ICANN CEO Fadi Chehade, had argued that these payouts were essentially “lobbying” expenses that had not been disclosed because they fall into a “loophole” in US regulations that require lobbyists to disclose their clients.

ICANN said it spent $765,829 on external lobbying services — both related to the IANA transition and not — over the same period.

Its in-house lobbyist, James Hedlund, has separately disclosed a spend of $890,000 over the period.

McCarthy had argued that ICANN was trying to hide the true extent of its lobbying, because it’s trying to make a case with US authorities for ICANN the organization that is at odds with what the community-led IANA transition process is trying to achieve.

Today’s disclosures show that ICANN spent $4,809,949 — almost half of its transition-related professional services spend — on the two law firms that have been advising the two volunteer groups developing the IANA transition proposals.

It spent a more modest $1,150,213 on its own legal advisers, Jones Day.

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Comments (3)

  1. Kieren McCarthy says:

    I don’t trust these figures. ICANN has gone out of its way to mix different vendors, timeframes and issues. These figures are impossible to tally with the figures it put out previously on IANA spend. It’s not clear what is included where. For example, when are lawyer’s fees included and when are they not. What proportion of Edelman’s PR expenses are included and which are not. It’s shameful, really.

    Anyway, my best guess last time based on ICANN actively hiding information was that it’s unbudgeted expense was probably a good indicator. That was $2.4m on top of the announced lobbying. My best guess this time based on slightly more information is $2.5m in total, including announced lobbying.

    The important thing to note is that this is FIVE TIMES higher than ICANN said. And of course is worth noting the effort the organization has gone to in order to make it impossible to find the true figure.

  2. Louise says:

    ICAAN’s ability to continue insider trading of stocks offered by ICANN participants VeriSign, Godaddy, and major Registrars is the reason it resists accountability measures, and spends lavishly on lobbying.

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