For-profit

Blue Star Strategies

Type:

Center-Left Consulting Firm

Location:

Washington, DC

Blue Star Strategies is a Democratic firm that lobbies on behalf of many companies and nonprofit organizations in the United States and internationally. The firm is headquartered in Washington D.C. and has international offices in Brussels, Buenos Aires, Paris, and Vienna. The firm is led by former Clinton administration officials Sally Painter and Karen Tramontano. Painter and Tramontano have also both sat on the board of the Atlantic Council, a left-of-center think tank prominent in international affairs and diplomacy. [1] [2]

Blue Star Strategies has been mentioned in news reports over its work on behalf of the Ukrainian energy company Burisma Holdings. The firm was reported to be the focus of a U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation into whether the company conducted illegal lobbying on behalf of Burisma during the Obama administration amid revelations that the firm promoted the fact that then-Vice President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, was a board member for the company while lobbying. [3]

Background

Blue Star Strategies is an international lobbying firm with a focus on U.S. diplomacy and international affairs. The firm was founded by Sally Painter and Karen Tramontano, who have held various government and trade organization positions, including roles in the Clinton administration. [4]

The firm has two arms, Blue Star Strategies LLC, a U.S.-based company with offices in Europe and Latin America, and Blue Star Strategies SAS, a Europe-based company that houses much of the firm’s European lobbying and conducts lobbying activities in Paris and Brussels. [5]

The firm has worked on several notable issues, including trade relations between China and the United States. Blue Star Strategies has also worked as a lobbyist for Abbott Laboratories, Caesars Entertainment, and Atlantic Tele-Network, in addition to lobbying for several central and eastern European governments, including those of Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia. The firm has also contracted with international organizations including the International Labour Organization, the World Bank Group, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and the Baltic Forum. [6]

Burisma Controversy

In June 2021, Politico reported that its sources told the newspaper that the Department of Justice had launched an investigation into Blue Star Strategies over activities that allegedly involved Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian energy company for which Hunter Biden, President Joe Biden’s son, was a board member from 2014 to 2019. [7] Burisma Holdings first made U.S. political news during former President Donald Trump’s first impeachment, when it was alleged that President Trump and former New York Mayor and Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani urged the Ukrainian government to investigate Burisma Holdings and Hunter Biden. [8]

As part of the initial Burisma controversy, the U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee then led by U.S. Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) investigated Blue Star Strategies and voted to subpoena documents and depositions from the firm. [9]

The 2021 investigation into Blue Star Strategies reportedly centers around its lobbying the U.S. government on behalf of Burisma without registering under the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA). Witnesses have alleged that Blue Star’s co-founders Sally Painter and Karen Tramontano met with State Department officials as part of their work for the company but did not disclose that Burisma was a client. [10] While Hunter Biden was not revealed to be a subject of the ongoing investigation, the Wall Street Journal reported that the firm’s co-founders mentioned Hunter Biden’s involvement with the company during multiple meetings with the State Department in an effort to improve the company’s image. [11]

References

  1. Woodruff, Betsy and Lippman, Daniel. “Sources: Dem lobbying firm under federal investigation for Burisma work.” Politico. June 3, 2021. Accessed June 18, 2021. https://www.politico.com/news/2021/06/03/blue-star-burisma-justice-department-investigation-491681 ^
  2. Ross, Chuck. “Atlantic Council Board Member Under Federal Investigation for Illegal Lobbying.” Washington Free Beacon. June 4, 2021. Accessed June 18, 2021. https://freebeacon.com/latest-news/atlantic-council-board-member-under-federal-investigation-for-illegal-lobbying/ ^
  3. Woodruff, Betsy and Lippman, Daniel. “Sources: Dem lobbying firm under federal investigation for Burisma work.” Politico. June 3, 2021. Accessed June 18, 2021. https://www.politico.com/news/2021/06/03/blue-star-burisma-justice-department-investigation-491681 ^
  4. “FAQs.” Blue Star Strategies. Accessed June 18, 2021. https://www.bluestarstrategies.com/faq ^
  5. “Who We Are.” Blue Star Strategies. Accessed June 18, 2021. https://www.bluestarstrategies.com/about/who-we-are ^
  6. “Our Clients.” Blue Star Strategies. Accessed June 18, 2021. https://www.bluestarstrategies.com/about/our-client ^
  7. Woodruff, Betsy and Lippman, Daniel. “Sources: Dem lobbying firm under federal investigation for Burisma work.” Politico. June 3, 2021. Accessed June 18, 2021. https://www.politico.com/news/2021/06/03/blue-star-burisma-justice-department-investigation-491681 ^
  8. Woodruff, Betsy and Lippman, Daniel. “Sources: Dem lobbying firm under federal investigation for Burisma work.” Politico. June 3, 2021. Accessed June 18, 2021. https://www.politico.com/news/2021/06/03/blue-star-burisma-justice-department-investigation-491681 ^
  9. Davis, Susan. “Senate Committee Subpoenas Firm with Suspected Ties To Hunter Biden.” NPR. May 20, 2020. Accessed June 18, 2021. https://www.npr.org/2020/05/20/859489084/senate-committee-subpoenas-firm-with-suspected-ties-to-hunter-biden ^
  10. Woodruff, Betsy and Lippman, Daniel. “Sources: Dem lobbying firm under federal investigation for Burisma work.” Politico. June 3, 2021. Accessed June 18, 2021. https://www.politico.com/news/2021/06/03/blue-star-burisma-justice-department-investigation-491681 ^
  11. Donati, Jessica. “Firm Hired by Ukraine’s Burisma Tried to Use Hunter Biden as Leverage, Documents Show.” The Wall Street Journal. November 5, 2019. Accessed June 18, 2021. https://www.wsj.com/articles/firm-hired-by-ukraines-burisma-tried-to-use-hunter-biden-as-leverage-documents-show-11573009615 ^
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