WASHINGTON – Brian Ballard's firm dropped a client that had been linked to the Assad regime, saying it is focused on another client that promotes "a free and democratic Syria."

The issue arose in a Daily Beast report on Wednesday. Ballard told the publication he would look into the issue and today, he issued a statement that said the firm "will intensify our review of prospective clients to minimize the possibility of distractions in the future."

The statement in full:

"Yesterday a news report questioned our firm's representation of ASM International General Trading LLC ("ASM"), based upon allegations regarding a minority owner of ASM. The news report also noted that our firm represents Citizens for a Safe and Secure America, whose objective is to promote America's national security interests through support of policies that lead to a free and democratic Syria. Our firm is fully dedicated to helping Citizens for a Safe and Secure America achieve this important objective, and will not allow this recent news report to distract attention and focus away from that mission. For that reason, we have decided to terminate our representation of ASM, effective today. As our firm's Washington presence continues to grow in size, we will intensify our review of prospective clients to minimize the possibility of distractions in the future."

Statement from Rim Albezem, President of Citizens for a Safe and Secure America.

"In the short time we have worked together, the performance of the Ballard Partners firm on behalf of our organization has been exemplary and has surpassed my very high expectations. I am more than fully confident in the firm's efforts to help secure America's safety and security through promotion of free and fully democratic elections in Syria. Furthermore, I am very pleased that they will continue to fight on behalf of our organization's sacrosanct mission, and have terminated their representation with ASM in order to eliminate any distraction from our shared goals for both America and Syria."