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Alasania's Party Hires Lobbying Firm in U.S., Europe
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 2 Sep.'11 / 13:49

Our Georgia-Free Democrats (OGFD) opposition party, led by Irakli Alasania, has hired a Washington-based lobbying firm BGR Government Affairs LLC, which is part of BGR Group with operations in Europe too.

BGR Government Affairs LLC was hired not directly by OGFD, but through BGR Gabara, a London-based subsidiary of BGR Group, which provides government relations services mainly in London and Brussels and media relations services across Europe.

Contract value and duration is not yet known.

“At the time of filing [July 22, 2011] the Parties have not reached an agreement with regard to duration, fee and expenses. At the time of filing the foreign registrant [BGR Gabara] has not recieved any fees or expenses,” according to documents filed by BGR Government Affairs to the U.S. Justice Department.

According to United Georgia-Free Democrats (OGFD) party talks are still underway on fee and duration of the contract.

“Information [on contract value and its duration] will be made publicly available as soon as these consultations are over,” Vako Avaliani, a spokesman for UGFD party, told Civil.ge on September 2.

BGR Government Affairs, which describes itself as “bipartisan lobbying firm”, says that activities on behalf of the client includes providing "outreach to U.S. government officials, news outlets and other individuals within the United States... for the purposes of promoting a stronger Georgian democracy through fair, open, and honest elections in 2012."

BGR Group was co-founded in early 1990s by Haley Barbour, now Mississippi governor and previously a powerful Washington lobbyist and Ed Rogers, a former advisor to George Bush senior.

Meanwhile, also in July the Georgian National Security Council has extended for at least six months its contract with one of the leading lobbying firms in Washington, Podesta Group. The contract is worth USD 300,000 and the sides have agreed to discuss in November possibility of its extension for six more months.

The firm, co-founded in late 1980s by Tony Podesta, who is regarded to be one of the most high-profile Democratic lobbyists, was first hired by the Georgian authorities in January, 2010.

The Georgian government also retains services of its long-time contractor Orion Strategies LLC – a lobbying and public relations firm owned by Randy Scheunemann, who was a foreign policy adviser to John McCain's 2008 Republican presidential campaign.

The Georgian National Security Council extended contract, worth of USD 210,000, with Orion Strategies for six months in July. According to the agreement Onion Strategies is providing "advice and consulting services concerning Georgia's full integration into Western institutions, including its candidacy for membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)." Under the agreement the firm is providing strategic communications, government relations, and public relations activities in the U.S. and Europe.

The Georgian National Security Council has also extended a contract with a consultant Gregory Maniatis of Ithaca Group LLC. The Georgian authorities pay Ithaca Group LLC USD 330,000 "for strategic communications and government relations work in the United States beginning on January 3, 2011 and ending on December 31, 2011."

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