Americas, New in Lobbying

El Salvador enlists former Clinton aide after Trumpworld hire comes under fire

El Salvador has hired a Washington firm led by a former aide to President Bill Clinton for public relations help after its previous contract with a lobbyist close to President Donald Trump came under fire.

The country’s presidential palace signed a six-month, $65,000-a-month contract with Washington strategic communications firm Rational PR for help with “public relations and communications support, consultation, and technical support.” The contract was effective Oct. 23.

Rational PR is owned by managing partner Patrick Dorton, a former special assistant to President Clinton and communications director for the White House National Economic Council who also served as deputy press secretary for the Democratic National Committee in the mid-1990s. Dorton is registered as a foreign agent on the contract along with Senior Director Nicholas Fitzgerald and Director of Digital Media Andrew Ryan Homan.

The contract comes two months after the country’s national intelligence chief, Peter Dumas, signed a $75,000-a-month with the Sonoran Policy Group. That firm is led by Robert Stryk, an Oregon winery owner who became one of the best-paid foreign lobbyists under Trump after helping informally on the president’s 2016 campaign on the West Coast.  

The contract with Sonoran caused a furor in El Salvador, with the office of President Nayib Bukele insisting that Bukele had not approved the contract and had it annulled, the Associated Press reported at the time. (The contract remains listed as active with the Department of Justice however. The Salvadoran government did not respond to a request for comment).

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Dumas, the national intelligence chief, is listed on the new contract as one of the officials Rational PR engages with. Also listed is Victor Santamaria, who is described as the PR director for the presidential palace. Rational PR has already received one $65,000 consulting fee on Oct. 14, according to its filing.

The contract comes amid accusations that the 39-year-old Bukele, a populist independent and a Trump ally, has an authoritarian bent. Most notably he sent the army to surround parliament in February to pressure lawmakers into approving anti-gang funding.