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Georgian Govt Hires More U.S. Lobbying Firms
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 23 Jul.'12 / 23:42

Georgian government has hired two more Washington lobbying firms, Prime Policy Group and Gephardt Government Affairs, which will provide outreach to and advocacy before the Congress and the U.S. administration over free trade and election-related issues.

The Georgian National Security Council (NSC) signed a six-month contract worth USD 150,000 with Prime Policy Group in June, according to filings submitted by the firm under the Foreign Agent Registration Act.

Charles R. Black, who was the senior political advisor to Senator John McCain's 2008 presidential campaign, is chairman of Prime Policy Group. The New York Times described Black as “super-lobbyist” who “is among those counseling” Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

According to the contract Prime Policy Group shall provide strategic advice and counsel, assistance with NATO issues and with pre-electoral issues, as well as outreach to and advocacy before the U.S. administration and the Congress and help “to advance free trade and democracy issues.”

According to the U.S. Department of State, Tbilisi and Washington are currently in talks over “a range of options to improve bilateral trade, including the possibility of a free trade agreement.”

The Georgian NSC signed in late June also a six-month contract with Gephardt Government Affairs, which has once already been hired for a period of one year by the Georgian government in 2010.

The lobbying firm, led by former House Democratic leader Richard Gephardt, will receive USD 180,000 for its services, according to its filings submitted under the Foreign Agent Registration Act.

According to the agreement Gephardt Government Affairs will provide “strategic advice, lobbying and government relations services; outreach to and advocacy before the United States Congress and Executive Branch to advance free trade and democracy issues; assistance with pre-electoral issues; and other support as defined by the two parties.”

With these two new contracts the Georgian government’s spending for Washington lobbying firms for this year increased to at least USD 1.56 million.

Apart of these newly signed contracts, this year the Georgian government has also used services of other Washington lobbying firms, including Podesta Group; Orion Strategies and of a consultant Gregory Maniatis with total worth of these contracts amounting USD 1.23 million. The Georgian NSC has eleven-month contract worth USD 600,000 with Podesta Group and USD 360,000 worth one-year contract with consultant Gregory Maniatis; NSC had a six-month USD 270,000 contract with its long-time contractor Orion Strategies.

From Georgia there is also an extensive lobbying effort in Washington from a billionaire opposition politician Bidzina Ivanishvili. Late last year he hired BGR Government Affairs LLC – part of BGR Group, which also has operations in Europe. Earlier this year Ivanishvili also contracted Patton Boggs, an influential lobbying and law firm. Also this year, Ivanishvili has hired consulting company National Strategies, which contracted on behalf of Ivanishvili a lobbying firm Parry, Romani, Deconcini & Symms.

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