TALLAHASSEE — Ballard Partners, a prominent Florida lobbying firm with close ties to President Donald Trump, on Friday dropped its contract with Washington D.C., amid a clash between the city’s mayor and the president.
The District of Columbia hired Ballard Partners, headed by influential Florida Republican fundraiser Brian Ballard, three weeks ago “to assist with COVID-19 financial relief,” the firm tweeted on Friday.
“While we were making progress, we are no longer in a position to deliver effective representation, so we have respectfully withdrawn our engagement,” the tweet said.
An hour before the announcement was posted, Trump lashed out at Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser on Twitter.
“The incompetent Mayor of Washington, D.C., @MayorBowser, who’s budget is totally out of control and is constantly coming back to us for ‘handouts,’ is now fighting with the National Guard, who saved her from great embarrassment over the last number of nights,” Trump tweeted Friday afternoon. “If she doesn’t treat these men and women well, then we’ll bring in a different group of men and women!”
Trump’s criticism came on the day that Bowser had “Black Lives Matter” painted on the street that leads to the White House, where thousands of demonstrators have been protesting in the aftermath of the May 25 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Floyd, who was black, died after former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin pinned him to the ground by the neck for more than eight minutes. As protests near the White House continue to escalate, tensions between the mayor and the president have flared.
Trump called on the National Guard to assist with the demonstrations, and drew criticism after law enforcement used force to disperse a crowd of protestors on Monday so the president could walk to a church for a photo.
Gov. Ron DeSantis, a staunch Trump ally, announced last week that he sent 500 Florida National Guard troops to Washington D.C. to help manage the protests.
But Bowser, who is black, on Thursday asked Trump to “withdraw all extraordinary federal law enforcement and military presence” from her city, arguing that the armed and uniformed officers “are inflaming demonstrators” and adding to grievances of “those who are peacefully protesting for change and for reforms to the racist and broken systems that are killing black Americans.”