Liberia: Govt Contracts Another Lobbyist to ‘Make Things Happen in Washington at a Fee of US$75k Per Month

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MONROVIA – The George Weah government is striving its way through in Washington, having been criticized for not having a good rapport with the United States evidenced by the fact that Pres. Weah is yet to have a one-on-one with a sitting U.S. President since he took office about five years ago.

The administration has from time to time hired some of the best lobbyists in the United States to push its interests at Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. However, not much great news has come out of these engagements on which the government spends hundreds of thousands of United States Dollars – taxpayers’ money.

FrontPageAfrica has obtained a copy of the latest contract signed by the Liberian government and a lobbyist at a monthly fee of US$75,000 to be paid quarterly for a period of one year.

The lobbying contract was signed on June 24, 2022, between the Government of Liberia and Ballard and Partners.

The Minister of Finance, Samuel D. Tweah, and the Minister of Justice, Cllr. Frank Musa Deah signed on behalf of the Liberian government while Brian Billard, president of the firm, Ballard and Partners, signed on his firm’s behalf.

According to the contract, “It shall be the Firm’s duty to consult with the Client [the Government of Liberia] and advocate on its behalf those issues the Client deems necessary and appropriate before the US Federal government, issues, and objectives may include but are not limited to, enhancing US-Government of Liberia bilateral relations, developing trade, investment and business opportunities. It shall further be the Firm’s duty to inform the Client of developments in legislation and policy relevant to the Client’s issues and objectives.”

The contract further states: “The Firm shall receive from the Client a fee of $75,000 a month, payable in quarterly installments for this agreement, plus the reasonable costs associated with the representation, including but not limited to, necessary registration fees: and travel expenses such as overseas hotel, airfare, car services, and meals, excluding costs typically associated with the operation of an office, such as overhead, staff, and equipment. The fee shall be paid in quarterly installments of $225,000 with the first installment being due immediately upon execution of this agreement; the second installment due on September 24th; the third installment due on December 24th; the fourth installment due on March 24th; and continuing to be due on a quarterly basis until the termination of the agreement. The Firm will bill its costs quarterly.”

The contract comes in three months ahead of the UN General Assembly when President Weah would be expected in the United States to address the United Nations.

President Weah has often been criticized for not having the opportunity to have any one-on-one meeting with the President of the United States – from former President Donald Trump to President Joe Biden and his government has been highly criticized by the U.S. for its failure to address to corruption and significantly improve governance. He’s also yet to pay any state visit to the United States.

In September last year, the Liberian government appointed Liberal CNN Analyst Bakari Sellers as lobbyist in Washington to improve the country’s image that has been tarred by recurring reports on human rights abuses and corruption.

Sellers was appointed to arrange high-level interactions with the United States of America government and build a “positive and correct image” of the George Weah-led government among the US policymakers, Fox News reported.

In 2019, the government contracted the services of a former operative for Pro-Trump Super Pac to lobby for the administration in Washington. Jake Menges deal was US$25,000 a month.

His work was to offer offer “business development and government affairs advice” to Liberia’s government, including “representation before the leaders of the House and Senate as well as representatives in the Department of Commerce, Transportation, Treasury, Agriculture and Energy,” according to a contract filed with the Justice Department.

The regime of Weah’s predecessor Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf saw visitations by high-profile US government officials, including then-sitting President George W. Bush, Secretary State Hilary Clinton, former first lady, Michelle Obama, and others.

Sirleaf regime’s relationship with KRL yielded enormous benefits, with the Sirleaf government benefiting from millions of dollars in donor assistance and foreign direct investment.

KRL was the company of record for the two terms of President Sirleaf and led the global advocacy push during the Ebola crisis in Liberia in 2014, where the United States approved an amount of US$500 million in urgent supplemental appropriations and deployed the 101st Airborne to Liberia to assist in building a logistical bridge to fight Ebola.

During the early days of the Weah Administration, KRL announced that it signed up a one-year agreement to support President Weah and his administration’s Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD).

According to the KRL statement in January 2020 the one-year agreement included increasing donor support and foreign direct investment in critical economic sectors of Liberia. 

President Weah has seen an immense drop in foreign support to Liberia through different programs, contrary to the Sirleaf regime which witnessed huge international goodwill and support for Liberia.

Apparently aware of the consequences of being unable to meet the President of the United States of America or pay a State visit over the last four years, President Weah is now desperate to get something done to change the dynamics in his favor.

This week, Billard Partners signed a one-year, US$300,000 contract that will see Ballard Partners promote them as “a close working partner of key western countries in the struggles against Islamic extremism and the war against global terrorist groups, such as al-Qaeda.”

The firm will also spread awareness of Mali’s peace efforts to the American public and attempt to secure funding for the republic via the Millennium Challenge Corp., a federal foreign aid agency set up by Congress in 2004.

Firm President Brian Ballard chaired the Trump Victory organization in Florida during the 2016 presidential campaign. After Trump’s election, Ballard Partners expanded its operations to Washington, picking up more than $3.5 million in deals with major Capitol Hill clients, including Amazon, Sprint and Uber.

It has also signed major lobbying contracts with other foreign nations including the Dominican Republic, Qatar, the Maldives and Turkey, which recently renewed its contract with Ballard Partners.

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