Podesta, 720.000 USD annually

Podesta, 720.000 USD annually
The lobbying agreement with Patton Boggs is not the only one that the Albanian government is paying with the citizens’ money to succeed in the American politics.

On April 2012, the Council of Ministers signed another lobbying agreement with another company, Podesta Group. The agreement has a 1 year term and ends on March 31st 2013.

According to the agreement published by the US Department of Justice, the service that Podesta will carry out for the Albanian government is the same, lobbying in the United States.

Podesta undertakes to improve Albania’s relations with the US institutions, and find funds from international donators based in the US. In exchange, the Albanian government pays Podesta 60.000 USD each month plus expenses, all paid by the Albanian tax-payers.

A 720.000 USD agreement, without taking additional expenses into account, have the same goal to that of Patton Boggs.

The history of big lobbying payments by the Albanian government starts in 2007, when the Council of Ministers signed a 500.000 USD agreement with Euro Ridge, led by Tom Ridge, Secretary for the Internal Security at the US, and later hired by the Albanian government as an adviser.

Since then, the agreements for lobbying and curing the image of the Albanian government in the American lobbies have continued each year. In 2009, Patton Boggs received the first 200.000 USD agreement that was followed by two others in 2010 and 2011, with a respective value of 240.000 and 200.000 USD.

The most recent agreement was signed a few months ago with Patton Boggs, the value of which is still unknown and not public yet. But if this agreement has the same value as the previous one, at least 200.000 USD, the Albanian government is officially paying two companies with 900.000 to 1.000.000 USD each year for lobbying in the US.

Millions of tax payers’ money go to lobbying companies, despite the difficult budget and economic situations. One of the main reasons of this service is to give a good image of the Albanian administration in the US.

It is unclear the role of the Albanian Embassy to the United States at this point, since all political and economic issues, together with Albania’s image, are on the hands of two lobbying companies that can be considered “shadow embassies” of Albania in Washington.