Government of Georgia hires former Trump fundraiser to lobby

Government of Georgia hires former Trump fundraiser to lobby

The government of Georgia hired a lobbyist with ties to President Trump to help it boost its financial and security investments from the United States, according to forms filed with the Justice Department.

David Tamasi, of Rasky Partners, signed the disclosure documents on May 12. Tamasi served as the finance chair for the Trump Victory fund, a joint fundraising committee between Trump’s campaign and the Republican Party that allows donors to write large checks. 

The contract, which lasts from May to August, is worth $30,000 per month. In the world of foreign lobbying that is a standard — if low — amount. The engagement began just before Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili came to Washington, where he visited the White House and State Department.

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Rasky Partners “will work to strengthen bilateral relations by supporting the Georgian Government's outreach efforts to U.S. Congress and Administration that generates political support for Georgia and increase U.S. foreign security assistance,” disclosure forms say. 

The firm will also “engage administration officials on the need to support greater U.S. foreign direct investment (FDD) into Georgia and to grow bilateral trade relations.”

It’s Georgia's first lobbying hire in the U.S. since the government’s parliamentary elections last October, in which the ruling party — the Georgian Dream party — scored a decisive victory, retaining power. 

Georgia sits in a region between Europe and Asia, but it considers itself part of Europe and wants to be a part of the European Union. It also has its sights on joining NATO — a move opposed by Russia, Georgia’s neighbor to the north that had previously colonized it. Russia and Georgia remain in conflict over two Russia-backed breakaway territories.

During a meeting at the White House, Vice President Pence told Kvirikashvili that the Trump administration supports "Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders," mirroring previous U.S. government statements, referring to the two regions. 

He also "praised the Prime Minister's leadership on political and economic reforms and reaffirmed U.S. support for Georgia's decision to pursue integration into Euro-Atlantic institutions, including NATO. The leaders also pledged to explore ways to continue to enhance their economic and trade relations," according to a White House account of the conversation.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Kvirikashvili also signed an agreement during the Washington trip last week that increases intelligence sharing and counterterrorism between the United States and Georgia. Tillerson called it a "major milestone in security cooperation" between the U.S. and Georgia.

The two men met on May 9 and talked about also increasing economic, defense and security relations, according to a statement from Kvirikashvili.

In the meeting, they “discussed in detail important prospects of deeper economic, defense, and security relations, as well as assurances of U.S. support for Georgia's European and Euro-Atlantic integration,” he said.

The Georgian Dream political party has its own team of U.S. lobbyists, according to Justice Department disclosures, and the government of Georgia has the law firm Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman on retainer for $30,000 per month.

Its contract says Pillsbury aims “to increase its communications with policymakers" and “[deepen] the Georgia-NATO relations,” among providing international public relations assistance and other services.

During the last few months of the campaign, Trump promised to “drain the swamp” once he arrived in Washington, saying that those close to him should not be able to profit off the relationship. 

Despite signing an ethics order that bans anyone who works in the administration from registering as a foreign agent, it does not apply to those who had worked on his campaign or transition.

Many Trump-connected firms are now searching for — and securing — work with foreign governments and entities.