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Ballard Partners to represent eco-lodge company in Virgin Islands National Park turf battle

The firm will help CBI with National Park Services land use issues.

Ballard Partners has added CBI Acquisitions to its list of federal lobbying clients.

According to federal lobbying disclosures, firm founder Brian Ballard will work alongside lobbyists Justin Sayfie and Daniel McFaul to help the Connecticut-based company with “issues related to Retained Use Estate (RUE) and National Park Services land.”

CBI Acquisitions owns the Caneel Bay Resort eco-lodge in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The property was decimated during the 2017 hurricane season and has yet to be repaired.

The resort’s continued dereliction is due to CBI owning the structures, but not the land they sit on, which is within the Virgin Islands National Park and controlled by the National Park Service.

CBI Acquisitions has held off on the improvements pending an extension to their lease, currently set to end in 2023. The company has also offered to walk away from the resort in exchange for a $70 million payment and an agreement that it wouldn’t be culpable for any environmental damage on the land.

The resort has a storied history. The land was initially owned by the Rockefeller family, who donated it to the National Park Service in the mid-1950s. CBI Acquisitions took over the resort in 2004.

CBI is the latest client signed by Ballard Partners’ fast-growing Washington, D.C. branch.

Since expanding to the nation’s capital, the firm has quickly risen to the top on K Street thanks to Ballard’s ties to the Donald Trump administration. He chaired the Trump Victory organization in Florida during the 2016 presidential election.

Ballard Partners’ growth at the federal level hasn’t been to the detriment of their Florida operation. Newly filed lobbying compensation reports show Ballard Partners was the top-earning firm in the state last year, collecting nearly $20 million in fees from its 200-plus clients.

Written By

Drew Wilson covers legislative campaigns and fundraising for Florida Politics. He is a former editor at The Independent Florida Alligator and business correspondent at The Hollywood Reporter. Wilson, a University of Florida alumnus, covered the state economy and Legislature for LobbyTools and The Florida Current prior to joining Florida Politics.

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