Bulgaria has given 1 100 619 US dollars For lobbying in the USA between 1997 and 2001
Bulgaria has given 1 100 619 US dollars For lobbying in the USA between 1997 and 2001
Bulgaria has given 1 100 619 US dollars to 3 foreign companies between September 1997 and December 2001 to lobbying for its cause in the USA, showed an investigation of Bulgarian 24 Hours Daily.
By Alexenia Dimitrova24 Hours DailySofia, BulgariaFor contactsDimitrovabg@yahoo.com
Bulgaria has given 1 100 619 US dollars to 3 foreign companies between September 1997 and December 2001 to lobbying for its cause in the USA, showed an investigation of Bulgarian 24 Hours Daily.The information can be found in the FARA register in the American Department of Justice. Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) accepted in 1998 requires every agent of a foreign principal to register with the Department of justice and to declare regularly its agreements with, income from, and expenditures on behalf of the foreign principal. Foreign principals usually are foreign governments and foreign ministries or foreign embassies based in Washington DC.The forms with these data fulfilled by the agents of the foreign principals twice yearly are public records and must be supplemented every 6 months. As Public records they are kept in the Department of Justice and could be read freely by anyone who interested to make a research in them. Every foreign journalist has right to do the same although his/her own government very often refused to confess how much money from the country’s budget has gone for lobbying. FARA register can be searched by country and by the name of the lobbying agent. Since the Bulgarian government keeps the names of its lobbying agents in the USA I had to search by country. In this way in the FARA register can be found 4 companies worked out for the Bulgarian Embassy in Washington D.C. and for the Bulgaria Foreign Ministry. These companies are JWI, BSMG Worldwide, White&Case and Merkel, Claire Sechler. According to the FARA register the major amount of money Bulgaria has given to JWI - 600 000 US dollars. A little bit less - 495 000 US dollars the Bulgarian government has given to BSMG Worldwide. Only 15 619 US dollars has received White&Case.What these companies have done in return of so much money?According to the register BSMG provided “advice and counsel relating to communications for the Embassy.” Also – “assisted in organizing events, and drafting and distributing informational materials.” In addition, “the registrant conducted media relations in support of the Embassy's principal interests.” For these services the company has received $125,000.00 for the six month period ending June 1,1999. From July 1, 1999 to November 30, 1999 the company has gained a little bit less – 70 000 US dollars. From the registers became clear that the contracts have been signed regularly till the end of 2001. After that the company changed the subject of the services. The registrant “agreed to provide strategic counsel and public relations services to assist the Republic of Bulgaria in communicating its positions and interests.” Also – “to assist in drafting, designing and producing informational materials.” In addition – “to work with media organizations and offices of the U.S. Government and Congress to advance the interests of the foreign principal – (- Bulgaria).” The company worked when Bulgarian Ambassador in the USA is Philip Dimitrov, - former Bulgarian Prime Minister.Not very different is the contract of another company, which has received money to work for the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry – JWI. The registrant “arranged meetings between media and government officials and visiting members” of Bulgaria. JWI also “prepared and distributed information promoting U.S.-Bulgarian relations”. The company received $75,000.00 for the six month period ending February 28,1999. Later on in the contract was included contacts with “members of Congress and their staff, the staff of relevant House and Senate committees, members of the Administration, and members of the media, to discuss legislation and related issues concerning the foreign aid, defense, and trade interests” of Bulgaria. Bulgaria paid $56,250.00 for the six month period ending August 31,2001. The company which received less money to work for Bulgaria – only 15 619 US Dollars – was White&Case. It works only 9 months and “provided general legal representation in connection with foreign borrowing and the rescheduling of certain foreign indebtedness” of Bulgaria. Merkel, Claire Sechler from Virginia appeared recently in the FARA register. It has not declared any money received from Bulgaria till now. According to the form in the FARA register “the registrant will provide advice and counsel to the foreign principal (- Bulgaria) on matters related to U.S.-Bulgaria relations. The registrant will also contact members of Congress and their staff, the staff of relevant House and Senate committees and members of the Administration to discuss issues related to U.S.-Bulgaria relations and Bulgaria's desire to join NATO”. What are these companies and how Bulgaria choused them to work for its interests?BSMG Worldwide is shortened from Bozell Sawyer Miller group – communication agency with headquarters in New York. It is unit of the tree companies included in “True North Communications” specializing in corporate communications, public and marketing relations. In 2002 it became part of Weber Shandwick Worldwide.JWI is shortened from Jefferson Waterman International specialized in researches and analyses. They admit that trough theirs sources in Washington D.C. and around the World are able to obtain early, authoritative information on international policy developments, decisions, and opportunities that can affect a country's or company's future. This information - discreetly acquired, expertly analyzed, and reported on a timely basis - lays the groundwork for effective strategies or signals the need for immediate action. Bulgarian government is client of the company together with Algeria, Croatia, Jamaica, Korea, and Romania.White&Case’s office is in downtown New York. In it work 160 lawyers, worldwide – around 600. According to some rumors the company was favorite of ex Bulgaria Ambassador in the USA Mrs. Snezhana Botusharova. The company stopped working for the Embassy after she left her position. BSMG Worldwide and JWI probably were favorite of next Ambassador – Mr. Philip Dimitrov, presumed sources in the Bulgarian Embassy in the USA. These companies received their contracts immediately after he became Ambassador in Washington in July 1998. They stopped working with and for Bulgaria few months before Dimitrov left his position in February 2002. Ambassador Dimitrov categorically refused to answer 24 Hours Daily how he choused the two companies for lobbying for Bulgaria in the USA and what the companies have done for Bulgaria between 1998 and 2002 when they received 1 095 000 US Dollars. It is very unclear and subjective to evaluate the results from lobbying, stated a diplomatic source. “You never know have you received the thing you paid for or you paid more hoping that one day you would receive something. But these are the rules of the game”, he explained. According to him Washington DC is the only city in the World with regulation on lobbying and is unreal not to obey these rules. The tariffs are clear – if you want – pay, if not – you stay an outsider. Except official Bulgarian institutions, which make official contracts with US companies to lobbying for Bulgaria there is a private one – Bulgarian-American Business Center. For number of years the Center paid regularly to Washington Company called Pyle&Associates for lobbying in the American Congress. According to the Public Records in the USA Senate Pyle&Associates has received less than 20 000 US Dollars yearly since 1990. Chairman of the Bulgarian-American Business Center is Vladimir Ossenov, ex First secretary in the Bulgarian Embassy in Washington and a good friend if Bulgarian businessman and President of Multigroup Ilia Pavlov. Pavlov was shot to dead in March 2003 in front of the office of Multigroup in Sofia. After left the position of First secretary in the Embassy in 1992 Ossenov remained in the USA and created Bulgarian American Business Center, which in 2002 fulfilled 10 years anniversary. Ossenov was very surprised that Bulgaria has given so much money for lobbying in the USA. Although Bulgaria became NATO member the results from the lobbying were not very satisfied according to him – there were no significant US investments, business interest and political contacts with Bulgaria, Ossenov thinks. On the opposite opinion is now Bulgarian Ambassador in the USA Mrs. Elena Poptodorova. According to her the lobbying is something very important and useful in the American business and political circles. In 2002 Bulgaria was the only country among candidates for joining NATO, which has no American consultant and lobbyist in the important process, Mrs. Poptodorova claimed. According to her not having lobbyists in Washington DC sounds and seems unusual and politically immature. Amounts of 100 000 US Dollars are normal and even less for lobbying, Poptodorova said. Although she claims that the most important lobbyist for any country is its diplomatic stuff she confessed that Bulgaria would continue to hire lobbying companies and to pay them according to the unofficial tariffs in political center of the World – Washington D.C.