Washington Babylon — June 17, 2009, 11:21 am

Russian Oligarch Retains Advisory Firm Close to Hillary to Help Resolve Visa Ban

Intelligence Online reports that the Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska has hired an advisory firm with close ties to Hillary Clinton to help him get a visa to enter the United States. As I’ve previously reported here, Deripaska has been barred from this country over concerns that he has ties to organized crime.

Intelligence Online says (warning: story is firewall protected) that Deripaska — who previously employed beltway lobbyists close to John McCain, including his former campaign manager Rick Davis — has retained the Endeavor Group, which, the newsletter says, “specializes in providing services to billionaire and show business personalities.”

Endeavor’s partners include Lorrie McHugh-Wytkind, formerly “Communications Director for Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton and Deputy Press Secretary for Media Affairs and Operations for President Bill Clinton,” and its advisers include Bruce Babbitt, Secretary of the Interior under Bill Clinton and a Hillary supporter during the Democratic presidential primaries.

Update: Adam Waldman, founder and president of the Endeavor Group, writes to say that his firm doesn’t lobby, so I’ve changed this post to reflect that. The firm’s website says, “The Endeavor Group represents a select group of entrepreneurial, high net worth individuals. The firm was founded in 2001 to provide cross-disciplinary advisory and execution services in support of the complex business and philanthropic initiatives of our clients.”

Waldman also said that Lorrie McHugh-Wytkind has been a strategic communications partner (which means consultant) to my firm on two very specific philanthropic initiatives, dealing with (i) Malaria and (ii) Neglected Tropical Diseases. She has never had any involvement, nor would she, in our work with Oleg Deripaska or any other client matters outside of these two projects. Second, Bruce Babbitt who is the Chairman of the World Wildlife Fund and serves on our informal advisory board, never has had any involvement with our client work.”

I don’t think that changes the thrust of the post or of the Intelligence Online piece, though. Deripaska did hire a firm with ties to Hillary Clinton, which can’t be a bad thing nowadays.

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