Campaign Finance, Middle East, New in Lobbying

Qatar lobbyist, wife contribute $200,000 to Trump re-election

Foreign lobbyist and Republican fundraiser Brian Ballard donated $100,000 to President Donald Trump‘s re-election campaign in March while Ballard’s wife donated another $100,000, federal lobbying and campaign finance records show.

A vice chairman of the Republican National Committee finance committee who led fundraising operations for the Trump campaign in Florida in 2016, Ballard currently represents the governments of Qatar, Zimbabwe and the Dominican Republic, as well as Beirut-based telecom company Africell Holding and Syria advocacy group Citizens for a Secure and Safe America. His firm also worked for the government of Kosovo until this April.

The March payments to the Trump Victory Committee are documented in Ballard Partners’ latest lobbying disclosure as well as filings with the Federal Election Commission. That month, Trump held a fundraising brunch at his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida, where one of the 900 or so attendees was later diagnosed with having the coronavirus.

It’s the Ballards’ largest combined contribution to the Trump Victory committee. A year earlier, in March 2019, the two Floridians contributed a total of $100,000 to the Republican National Committee. Ballard is also a top Trump bundler, helping raise $1.3 million, Bloomberg Government reports.

Ballard Partners’ lobbying filing, which covers the six months through April, indicates that the firm brought in almost $1.5 million from foreign clients in the six months through April. That includes $750,000 from the Dominican Republican, $575,000 from Qatar and $156,000 from Kosovo.

During that time period, lobbyists for the firm met with the following US officials:

  • On behalf of Zimbabwe: National Security Council Senior Director for African Affairs Erin Walsh and the State Department’s then-special envoy for the Great Lakes Region of Africa Peter Pham (Pham is now special envoy for the Sahel);
  • On behalf of the Dominican Republic: National Security Council Director for Western Hemisphere Mauricio Claver-Carone and US Ambassador to the Organization of American States Carlos Trujillo.