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Wed Jun 6, 2018, 03:58 PM

Ballard lobbied Trump on Kosovo

With David Beavers, Garrett Ross, Lauren Gardner and Daniel Lippman

BALLARD LOBBIED TRUMP ON KOSOVO: Brian Ballard, a top fundraiser for President Donald Trump, personally lobbied Trump in April on behalf of the government of Kosovo. Ballard briefly talked with Trump about relations with Kosovo and mentioned a request Kosovo’s ambassador had made for Trump to meet with the country’s president, Hashim Thaci, according to a Justice Department filing. “This was a very brief part of a short conversation, but disclosure requirements require us to report this brief encounter,” Ballard said in an interview. The meeting took place on April 20, while Trump was spending the week at Mar-a-Lago. Johnny DeStefano, a top aide to Trump, and Keith Kellogg, a retired lieutenant general who’s now Vice President Mike Pence’s national security adviser, were also present.

— Lobbyists who represent foreign governments or political parties are required by law to disclose whom they’re lobbying, unlike those who represent domestic interests. While members of Congress and administration officials regularly show up in such reports, it’s uncommon for a president to appear in one. But Ballard, who opened a Washington office after Trump’s election, has built a reputation as one of only a handful of lobbyists with a personal relationship with the president.

— Ballard has built a substantial foreign practice since setting up shop last year in Washington, lobbying for clients including the governments of Azerbaijan, the Dominican Republic, Kosovo, Qatar and Turkey. The disclosure filing also shows that Ballard met with Florida Gov. Rick Scott in April on behalf of the Qatari government. Ballard is a longtime fundraiser for Scott’s campaigns. Other lobbyists at Ballard’s firm, Ballard Partners, lobbied a variety of other Florida officials on behalf of Qatar, including Miami Mayor Francis Suarez and Jeff Vinik, the owner of the Tampa Bay Lightning.


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