Communications, a New York lobbying firm that helped orchestrate Donald Trump’s campaign announcement and opened a Washington office after Trump won, has signed its first foreign client. The firm will represent Washington Strategy Group, a group aligned with Fethullah Gülen, a Turkish cleric living in Pennsylvania whom the Turkish government blamed for instigating a failed coup last summer. The group hired Gotham to secure the release of what Brad Gerstman, a Gotham partner, described as Turkish political prisoners being held in Saudi Arabia “at the behest and direction of” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. “We’re going to use every resource we have as lawyers, as lobbyists reaching out to the administration” and Congress, Gerstman said.
Gotham has touted itself as close to Trump’s administration, and Gerstman said that’s part of why Washington Strategy Group — which registered last year to lobby on “human rights violations and the protection of free expression in Turkey” — hired them. “They reached out to us for the same reason as any client reaches out to us — our proximity to the White House and our understanding of law,” Gerstman said. He also plans to travel to Saudi Arabia to personally lobby the Saudi government. Washington Strategy Group is paying Gotham a $50,000 retainer and $20,000 per month thereafter.
The arrangement puts Gotham on the opposite of the Gülen issue as Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser, who tried to discredit Gülen while lobbying on behalf of a firm with ties to the Turkish government. But Gerstman said that Gülen and his supporters were being unfairly vilified. “They’re a model group of Muslims that should be supported by the United States,” Gerstman said.