clearn.png
Wednesday July 6th, 2022 3:48AM

Taiwan pays $900,000 for ally Guatemala to lobby Washington

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

MIAMI (AP) — Guatemala has hired for $900,000 a major supporter of former President Donald Trump to seek influence with U.S. officials in an unusual lobbying contract paid for by its ally Taiwan, foreign lobby records show.

Ballard Partners registered as a foreign agent with the U.S. Justice Department on Jan. 13, according to new filings made public over the weekend. The contract, dated Jan. 12, was signed by Alfonso Quinonez, Guatemala's ambassador to the U.S., and Brian Ballard, president of the namesake lobbying firm and a longtime Trump ally.

It's not clear how hiring Ballard, who years before Trump ran for the White House worked for him as a lobbyist in Florida, will be able to help Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei draw closer to the Democratic administration of President Joe Biden, which has repeatedly expressed concerns about corruption in the Central American nation.

On Sunday, the U.S. State Department blasted Giammattei's government for seeking to lift the immunity from prosecution of a judge who has won high honors in Washington for exposing bribery in Guatemala.

“This action against an internationally recognized independent judge weakens a vital pillar of Guatemala’s democracy and judicial system," spokesman Ned Price said in a statement.

In its registration, Ballard only said it would provide “strategic consulting and advocacy services” related to Guatemala's interactions with the U.S. government and U.S. officials.

Justin Sayfie, a partner in Ballard’s Washington office, declined to comment further. But he said that the request for Taiwan to assume responsibility for payment was not the firm's idea.

“It's unusual for one government to be paying the fees for lobbying for another government,” said Robert Kelner, an attorney specializing in compliance with foreign lobbying laws for Covington & Burling. “It’s not illegal. But it does raise a question of whether the government that pays also needs to be listed by the lobbying firm as a foreign principal."

Guatemala in a statement thanked Taiwan for “the support that allows us to strengthen our positioning in the U.S." It said the one year contract with Ballard, for which it is paying $75,000 a month, will focus on strategic communication, investor outreach and promoting tourism.

Guatemala is one of only 13 mostly small, developing countries that still has full diplomatic relations with Taiwan, which split from mainland communist-run China amid civil war in 1949.

Taiwan in the past has donated fleets of buses, agricultural equipment and other high-profile gifts to its allies. But it's been unable to compete with China, which considers Taiwan a breakaway territory and has aggressively worked to isolate it on the world stage.

Recently, Beijing secured diplomatic recognition from Guatemala's neighbors Nicaragua and El Salvador. Honduras’ new president, Xiomara Castro, as a candidate also threatened to open ties to Beijing but but has since backtracked on the idea.

Giammattei, a law and order conservative, managed to bypass criticism in Washington and forge a productive relationship with the Trump administration by yielding to the White House's pressure to embrace an asylum agreement negotiated by his predecessor that he opposed when he ran for the presidency in 2019.

But he's struggled to build close ties to the Biden administration, which has sought to undo Trump's immigration policies and taken a harsher look at corruption and rule of law issues in the so-called “Norther Triangle” nations of Central America.

Biden didn't invite Giammattei to his Democracy summit last year and in June Vice President Kamala Harris, in a visit to Guatemala, described having a very frank conversation with the Guatemalan leader about the importance of maintaining an independent judiciary.

The shift toward a less independent justice system began before Giammattei took office but has continued on his watch.

Ballard will manage the account along with two associates with extensive ties to the Republican Party: Jose Diaz, a former Florida state representative who is a managing partner of Ballard’s office in Miami; and Sayfie, a one time adviser to former Florida Governor Jeb Bush who also headed the president’s commission on White House Fellowships during the Trump administration. A third associate representing Guatemala, John O’Hanlon, is a longtime Democrat.

Ballard amassed dozens of foreign and domestic lobbying clients during the Trump presidency — including Qatar, the Dominican Republic and Zimbabwe — when he was described by Politico as "The Most Powerful Lobbyist in Trump’s Washington.”

More recently, it has added a number of influential Democratic fundraisers and named former Congressman Robert Wexler, a Florida Democrat, as managing partner of its Washington office to bolster its credentials with the Biden White House.

___

AP writer Sonia Perez D. contributed to this report from Guatemala City.

Follow Goodman: @APJoshGoodman

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP World News, AP Business, AP Business - Corporate News
© Copyright 2022 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Race to cut carbon emissions splits U.S. states on nuclear
Many states in the U.S. are coming to the conclusion that solar, wind and other renewable power sources might not be enough to keep the lights on as they seek to dramatically cut their use of fossil fuels
12:21AM ( 10 minutes ago )
In tiny Wyoming town, Bill Gates bets big on nuclear power
A tiny Wyoming town faces transformation when a company started by Bill Gates builds a new type of nuclear power plant there
12:18AM ( 13 minutes ago )
Stafford propels Rams past Cardinals 34-11 in playoff rout
Matthew Stafford passed for 202 yards and two touchdowns in his first playoff victory and the Los Angeles Rams roared out of the wild-card round with a 34-11 win over the Arizona Cardinals
12:07AM ( 24 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Japan ready to expand COVID restrictions as infections surge
Japan’s government is preparing social restrictions in Tokyo and other regions as the omicron variant of the coronavirus infects more people
11:52PM ( 39 minutes ago )
Volcanic ash delays aid to Tonga as scale of damage emerges
Thick ash on an airport runway was delaying aid deliveries to the Pacific island nation of Tonga, where significant damage was being reported days after a huge undersea volcanic eruption and tsunami
10:58PM ( 1 hour ago )
Australia has record COVID-19 deaths, hospitals under stress
Australia has reported a record high of COVID-19 deaths, and its second-largest state declared an emergency in hospitals to cope with surging patient admissions and a staffing shortage due to the coronavirus
10:54PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP World News
Asia shares mostly higher after US holiday; BOJ stands pat
Asian shares are mostly higher in the absence of big market-moving news following a national holiday in the U.S. The Bank of Japan wrapped up a two-day policy meeting with no major changes
11:16PM ( 1 hour ago )
Asia shares mostly rise moderately after US national holiday
Asian shares are mostly higher in the absence of big market-moving news following a national holiday in the U.S. The Bank of Japan wrapped up a two-day policy meeting with no major changes
10:41PM ( 1 hour ago )
Pharrell Williams calls for economic equity during MLK event
Singer and music producer Pharrell Williams is challenging corporate America to “do more” by supporting entrepreneurs of color and adopting economic equity measures
10:38PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Business
Credit Suisse chairman resigns after internal investigation
Credit Suisse says its chairman has resigned following an internal investigation that reportedly turned up that he had violated quarantine rules intended to fight the COVID-19 pandemic
10:43AM ( 13 hours ago )
Double dealing: Legal, illicit blur in California pot market
As California enters its fifth year of broad legal marijuana sales, industry insiders say the practice of working simultaneously in the legal and illicit markets is all too commonplace in the struggling pot economy
3:50PM ( 1 day ago )
In California pot market, a hazy line between legal and not
An unwelcome trend is spreading in California, as the nation's most populous state enters its fifth year of broad legal marijuana sales
11:45AM ( 1 day ago )
AP Business - Corporate News
Race to cut carbon emissions splits U.S. states on nuclear
Many states in the U.S. are coming to the conclusion that solar, wind and other renewable power sources might not be enough to keep the lights on as they seek to dramatically cut their use of fossil fuels
12:21AM ( 10 minutes ago )
Stafford propels Rams past Cardinals 34-11 in playoff rout
Matthew Stafford passed for 202 yards and two touchdowns in his first playoff victory and the Los Angeles Rams roared out of the wild-card round with a 34-11 win over the Arizona Cardinals
12:07AM ( 24 minutes ago )
Before pullout, watchdog warned of Afghan air force collapse
A year-old report by Washington's Afghanistan watchdog has now been declassified and shows that it warned back in early 2021 that the Afghan air force would collapse without critical U.S. aid and training
12:06AM ( 25 minutes ago )
The Latest: No. 8 seed Casper Ruud out of Australian Open
Eighth-seeded Casper Ruud has been forced to withdraw from his first match at the Australian Open because of an ankle injury
12:06AM ( 25 minutes ago )
The AP Interview: Exiled artist Ai Weiwei on Beijing Games
Ai Weiwei is one of China's most famous artists, and he helped design the Bird's Nest stadium for the 2008 Beijing Olympics
12:01AM ( 30 minutes ago )