Another Miami lobbyist with Donald Trump as a former client is launching an office aimed at the new administration.
Brian Ballard, whose lobbying firm represents casino-giant Genting and the American Dream Miami mega-mall, this week announced the opening of a Washington office. It will be led by Syl Lukis, a Coral Gables-based lobbyist who is the firm's main advocate in Miami-Dade. Lukis said he would be traveling back and forth between Miami and D.C.
The news, first reported by Politico, puts Ballard within walking distance of the Trump White House after the firm broke with most of Florida's GOP establishment to work aggressively for him in the fall campaign. Brian Ballard was a top fundraiser for Trump after backing Jeb Bush and then Marco Rubio in the primaries. A Ballard partner, Susie Wiles, helped run Trump's winning Florida campaign.
"There is great enthusiasm with President Trump's new administration in Washington," Ballard said in a press release. "We are thrilled to be part of this excitement..."
Wiles is listed as part of the Washington office's recruits. So is Otto Reich, President Ronald Reagan's ambassador to Venezuela who went on to serve as assistant secretary of state for the Western Hemisphere under President George W. Bush.
Ballard Partners represented Trump, who owns golf properties throughout Florida, in Tallahassee. The Ballard announcement follows similar news from Carlos J. Gimenez, a son of Miami-Dade's mayor and a former Trump lobbyist on local matters.
The younger Gimenez announced Jan. 5 he was launching Hemispheric Consulting Group, to focus on foreign policy, trade and other federal issues that intersect with Washington and Latin America. Gimenez was general counsel at Balsera Communications, a public relations and lobbying firm founded by Freddy Balsera, a top player in Miami-Dade for the Clinton campaign and a longtime Democratic consultant.
Gimenez's Hemispheric Consulting announcement came from a Balsera staffer. Balsera did not respond to repeated inquiries about whether he had any financial involvement in Gimenez's new company. If he answers, we'll update this post. Balsera and Gimenez met with Trump in New York on Jan. 12 as the president-elect prepared to take office.