News 29 Jan 13

Albania Govt Signs US Lobby Firm Ahead of Poll

As Albania's government signs a new contract with the Washington-based law and lobbyist firm Patton Boggs, to improve its image in the US ahead of the June elections, questions remain about the sources of funding for parties' PR agencies.

Besar Likmeta
BIRN
Tirana
Albania Prime Minister Sali Berisha during a meeting with Frank Wisner, foreing policy advisor at Patton Boggs

The consulting firm has represented Albania’s government several times and also served as an adviser in the privatization of the state-owned oil refinery, ARMO.

It is also supporting the ongoing privatization process of Albania’s state-owned oil company, Albpetrol.

Data compiled by the US-based Sunlight foundation show that all Albania’s main political parties, from Prime Minister Sali Berisha’s Democrats to Edi Rama’s opposition Socialists, have sizable contracts with influential lobby firms.

They include Podesta Group, Blue Star Strategies, Dutko International, BKSH & Associates and Rasky Baerlain Strategic Communications.

Even the relatively small Justice and Integrity Party, which represents Albania’s Cham minority, has its own agent in Washington.

While the lobbying firms charge hundreds of thousands for their services, it is unclear where this money has come from. In 2009 and 2010 alone, Albania’s government and its main parties spent $1.38 million in lobbying in the US.

Watchdog organizations say it will be hard to source this money as the financing of Albanian political parties in general is far from transparent.

Lufti Dervishi, head of Transparency International Albania, says that the fact that lobbying contracts are not made public by the government, or by the political parties, is highly problematic.

“It’s unclear where this money comes from because the political parties don’t declare it to the Central Electoral Commission, or during audits,” Dervishi told Balkan Insight.

The parties are using lobbyists “to compensate for the lack of legitimacy at home by buying it abroad,” he concluded.

Talk about it!

blog comments powered by Disqus

Related Headlines:

croatia-s-saudi-arms-sales-fresh-new-scrutiny-02-22-2017
22 Feb 17

Croatian Agency Backs BIRN’s Arms Investigation

Croatia’s statistics bureau has confirmed data showing that 2016 was a record year for arms exports to Saudi Arabia, despite claims by a ministry to the contrary.

22 Feb 17

NATO Black Sea Plans Cause Dissent in Bulgaria

22 Feb 17

Macedonia, Croatia Risk Trade War Over Wine

22 Feb 17

Montenegro on Alert Over New Cyber Attacks

Premium Selection

croatia-s-lgbt-community-spooked-by-nightclub-attack-02-21-2017
22 Feb 17

Croatia’s LGBT Community Spooked by Nightclub Attack

A recent attack on an LGBT club night in Zagreb rekindled fears of persecution and raised concerns that Croatia has not made as much progress on gay rights as some had hoped.

kosovo-s-mustafa-defies-tear-gas-and-resignation-calls-02-20-2017
21 Feb 17

Kosovo’s Mustafa Defies Tear Gas and Resignation Calls

Kosovo Prime Minister Isa Mustafa told BIRN that his government has already survived street protests and tear gas attacks, and will ignore the opposition’s continued calls for early elections.

21 Feb 17

Croatia Profits from Syria’s Gruesome War