First DC lobbying firm to sign with Libyan rebels is rewarded with new contract

The first Washington firm to sign up with the Libyan rebels during the successful revolution against Moammar Gadhafi will no longer be working for free. 

The Harbour Group has signed a new $15,000-per-month contract with the Embassy of Libya, according to documents the firm has filed with the Justice Department. The agreement is set to run from March 1 to the end of the year.

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Richard Mintz, managing director of the public-relations firm, told The Hill that he and others at the firm are eager to help Libya transition toward democracy.

“We are proud to have played a modest role in helping the Libyan opposition to replace 40 years of dictatorial rule. Now we look forward to supporting free Libyans in their democratic transition,” Mintz said.

Harbour Group first signed with the Libyan National Transitional Council in April of 2011.

The firm worked on a pro-bono basis for the council over the past year. It helped organize visits to Washington for council leaders and contacted think tanks and media on the council’s behalf.

The firm helped support Libyan Prime Minister Abdurrahim el-Keib’s trip to Washington last month, where he met with President Obama, and is also working on having U.S. business delegations visit Libya.

The new contract supersedes the agreement the Harbour Group signed last year with the council.

“The Harbour Group is pleased to have been able to volunteer its services to the Libyan National Transitional Council and the Embassy of Libya for the last year in its historic efforts to establish democracy in Libya and to build new and important bridges to the United States. We welcome the opportunity to respond to your request to present this scope of services and budget to support the Embassy of Libya’s public diplomacy and communications efforts in 2012,” the contract says.

The firm will help run “a communications and public outreach program” to strengthen U.S.-Libyan relations, sustain U.S. foreign aid to Libya and help build up commerce and investment in Libya, according to the contract. For the embassy, the firm will help prepare speeches and press releases, develop website content and social media and organize briefings and delegation visits.

Over the past year, lobbyists for the Libyan rebels have had some success in Washington. The U.S. government recognized the council as Libya’s official government and handed it frozen Gadhafi assets that were under U.S. control.

Gadhafi was killed after being captured in October. 

The Harbour Group is not the only firm working on behalf of the council.

In June 2011, Patton Boggs filed forms to lobby for it. The firm, typically the highest K Street earner for lobbying revenue, continues to represent the Libyans.

“It was a great success for the client to remove Gadhafi and now the government is transitioning to a democratic country and is setting up the institutions it needs,” said David Tafuri, a partner at Patton Boggs.

Tafuri just returned from Libya last week, his fourth visit to the country. He met with Libyan government officials to discuss their transition to democracy and recovering other assets stolen by Gadhafi that were not frozen under United Nations sanctions.

Libya plans to hold elections in June to elect a national assembly. That assembly will then get to work on drafting a new constitution for the country. 

Patton Boggs also began its contract on a pro-bono basis but started getting paid last year, receiving its first payment in July, according to Justice records. The firm has now earned more than $240,000 from the council.



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