12 Feb 14 / 10:13:42

"Lobby Firm Behind Campaign to Smear Albanian Socialist"

Shirley Cloyes DioGuardi, Balkan Affairs Adviser, Albanian American Civic League

I am writing to report that your story is wholly unfounded. My husband, former Congressman Joe DioGuardi, and I were never involved in any campaign against Prime Minister Edi Rama or with any person or activity during the last election cycle in Albania.

I would appreciate it if you would publish a retraction immediately, stating that you have been misinformed.

Like many in the West, Joe and I were initially impressed by former Prime Minister Sali Berisha and his Democratic Party, but neither of us has had more than a couple of contacts with him since 1996, when I testified on behalf of Albania before the US House of Representatives. Our last meeting with him occurred at his request in Tirana in 2006, after which we ceased dealing with him and his government. We have been appalled by the allegations of corruption and the enrichment of his family.

In addition, it is well known that my husband and I, along with the Board and supporters of our Albanian American Civic League and Foundation, have a good and longstanding relationship with Congressman Dana Rohrabacher. Together, we have worked to bring equal rights and freedom to all Albanians in Southeast Europe and peace and stability to the region. But we have no knowledge of an FBI investigation of Edi Rama that you state Congressman Rohrabacher tried to initiate. This is why your linking our Albanian American Public Affairs Committee’s support for Congressman Rohrabacher with an FBI investigation and the efforts made by The Podesta Group (with whom we have had no contact) to conduct a smear campaign against Prime Minister Rama are beyond the pale.

You also did not do your homework when it comes to the Albanian American Public Affairs Committee, which is not a “conservative political action committee.” AAPAC does not operate from an ideological perspective. It supports Members of the House and Senate on both sides of the aisle who work on foreign policy in Southeast Europe. Any quick inquiry by a college student on the Internet will confirm this.

As you know, the basic standards of journalism include testing the accuracy of information from all sources and also clearly identifying the sources in support of one’s claims. Therefore, from a professional standpoint, I find it difficult to understand why you would publish serious, defamatory, and false allegations without making any attempt to contact the other parties, beginning with me. Again, I hope that you will publish a statement in Balkan Insight, stating that you have been misinformed. I also request that you contact the EU-supported Southeast East European Media Observatory who helped fund your article. I look forward to your reply.

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Investigation 24 Jan 14

Lobby Firm Behind Campaign to Smear Albanian Socialist

The Podesta Group, a lobbying firm working for Albania’s then government, planted several negative stories in the US media about Socialist leader Edi Rama on the eve of parliamentary elections.

Besar Likmeta