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Ridge Files Very Late for Albania

After a meeting with Justice and his counsel at Blank Rome, Ridge decided to file his FARA registration.

“Once we were made aware of certain contacts by Gov. Ridge, we advised him to register, which he did,” said Topper Ray, a spokesman for Blank Rome.

FARA prosecutions, or even, as in Ridge’s case, contact by the Justice Department to encourage registration, are unusual, ethics lawyers said.

“The enforcement of FARA is uneven,” said Kenneth Gross, an ethics expert at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom. “I think only in high-profile situations where there are press accounts would something like this happen. My impression is this is few and far between.”

Ridge first made contact with Berisha and his cabinet members in March 2006. After that meeting, Ridge came up with a strategic plan for the country, according to the registration.

His “Proposed Scope of Work for Albania” included creating a “comprehensive homeland security strategy” that would focus on terrorism and defense while also encouraging the country to become “an economic force” in the Balkans and Eastern Europe.

Additionally, Ridge wanted to help Albania obtain NATO membership, implement “good governance” practices and hold two one-day “expert advice seminars” in Washington, D.C.

Ridge declined to discuss the details of his work on behalf of Albany, although he noted that the seminar sessions never occurred.

The contract, signed by Ridge on Sept. 4, 2006, paid Ridge’s firm $40,000 a month for one year, amounting to $480,000.

In addition, the contract specified that Blank Rome be paid a $10,000 monthly retainer for its role in supporting Ridge Global. The contract further specified that Blank Rome would make “any direct contact with the United States government” on behalf of Albania.

The firm did not register with the Department of Justice for its work.

“All the work that we did for Albania was actually in Albania and not representing Albania before the U.S. government,” Blank Rome’s spokesman said in a statement.

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