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News 03 Nov 17

Romania Social Democrats Hired US Lobby Firm

Romania’s ruling Social Democrat Party paid a public affairs firm in Washington to facilitate meetings between party chief Liviu Dragnea and top US officials, according to a disclosure filing published by the US Justice Department. 

Ana Maria Touma
BIRN
Bucharest
Social Democrat leader Liviu Dragnea. Photo: Social Democrat Party/Flikr

Romania’s ruling Social Democrat Party, PSD, hired a lobbying firm in Washington to facilitate meetings between party chief Liviu Dragnea and top US officials, according to documents published on the US Justice Department website.

According to the disclosure filing, submitted under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, which also includes correspondence, the party hired Madison & Company LLC in late April 2017 to facilitate meetings between Dragnea and US Vice-President Mike Pence, House Speaker Paul Ryan and also arrange political, media and academic meetings.

“These meetings will include CNN and other high impact elite media,” the document shows.

According to emails contained in the filing, the firm’s president, Al Madison, corresponded with Gheorghe Dimitrescu, a former Romanian consul in New York and Strasbourg and currently an advisor to the deputy head of the lower Chamber, Florin Iordache.

In the email exchange, Dimitrescu says the meetings with Pence and Ryan are of great importance to the Romanian Social Democrats and that it does not matter whether they happen in the United States or elsewhere.

According to the documents, the public affairs firm began to provide its services to the party from June 22, 2017. The disclosure was filed on October 24, 2017.

According to the firm’s website, besides the Romanian government, its clients include the governments of Albania, Pakistan, Turkey and Venezuela.

Dragnea told journalists on Friday that he did not know anything about the contract or about whether other party members had information about it.

“I read the information in the morning and I called the party, very surprised; I thought maybe someone in the party knows something about it. The PSD has no contract with any such firm and never paid a dime. Still, 100,000 dollars is a small amount of money to me, isn’t it? The PSD has no contract. I checked in the morning. It doesn’t exist,” he told journalists.

Dragnea was in the US for President Donald Trump’s inauguration, including a donor dinner on the eve of the inauguration. The Social Democrat chief posted pictures from the dinner on Facebook showing him and Romania's then Prime Minister, Sorin Grindeanu, speaking to Trump.

Romania's President, Klaus Iohannis, was the first Balkan leader to visit President Trump in June 2017, following intense efforts made by the Romanian embassy in Washington. 

Trump's eldest son, Donald Trump Jr,  was also said to have been in Romania in mid-May for a hunting trip. 

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