Trump-connected firm signs another foreign client

Trump-connected firm signs another foreign client
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Ballard Partners, a firm with ties to President Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpTom Arnold claims to have unreleased 'tapes' of Trump Cohen distances himself from Tom Arnold, says they did not discuss Trump US military indefinitely suspends two training exercises with South Korea MORE, has signed its second foreign government client in as many weeks.

The Socialist Party of Albania has hired the Florida-based firm for “advising, counseling, and assisting the foreign principal in communications with US government officials” related to increasing the country’s bilateral relations with the United States, according to disclosures filed to the Justice Department.

It's paying the firm $20,000 per month in a contract scheduled to last a year, the firm told The Hill.

Albania's parliament is preparing for a first round of votes for a new president this week, a process that could go up to five rounds. The country is in the midst of a growing political crisis, with opposition parties refusing to take part in the general elections in June and boycotting parliament.

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The left-wing governing coalition has refused the opposition's request to form a caretaker government, though it is appealing to a center-right body to sit down for talks prior to the elections this summer. 

 

The contract documents, which have not yet posted to the Justice Department website, list the specific issues to be addressed, which include "enhancement of US-Albanian relations, strengthening of democratic institutions and rule of law, promotion of judicial reform, implementation of joint counter-terrorism and military efforts, and advanced growth initiatives that further the integration of Albania into European and Euro-Atlantic structures." 

Brian Ballard, the founder of the firm, had lobbied for the Trump Organization in the Florida legislature and served as finance chair in Florida for Trump during the campaign. He then served as a top fundraising official to help raise money for the president-elect’s inauguration. 

Ballard Partners recently opened up an office in Washington.

Earlier this month, the firm signed a one-year contract worth $900,000 to represent the Dominican Republic. Ballard told The Hill on Monday that the firm has not done any pitches and that the clients have come directly to the firm.

The firm recently hired former Rep. Robert Wexler (D-Fla.), who has known Ballard for many years, and has former ambassador to Venezuela, Otto Reich, on board to help with foreign clients. Ballard says they'll be taking the lead on those contracts.

"We haven't sought any business, but business has come to us. That will continue to happen. We anticipate a greater list of foreign clients over the next quarter or quarter and a half," he said, adding that they're taking a slow approach to signing work to make sure they can provide the substantive level of detail that foreign sovereign governments require.

Trump notably imposed tough restrictions on former administration officials lobbying for foreign governments. 

In his first weeks in the Oval Office, he signed an executive order banning anyone who worked in his administration from ever registering as a foreign agent with the Justice Department. 

The rules, however, do not apply to those who worked for him during the campaign and the transition.

 

— Updated at 2:35 p.m.