September 22, 2017 / 5:52 PM / a year ago

Sprint hired Trump-connected lobbyist in early September -filing

WASHINGTON, Sept 22 (Reuters) - Sprint Corp hired a lobbying firm with close ties to U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration on Sept. 1, adding to its stable of federal lobbyists as it nears a deal to merge with wireless rival T-Mobile US Inc, according to disclosures filed with the U.S. Congress this week.

Ballard Partners will lobby on “general government policies and regulations,” according to the disclosure, which did not include financial details.

The firm founded by Brian Ballard, an early Trump supporter, joins a long list of Sprint in-house and contracted lobbyists. In the first six months of 2017, the wireless provider spent $1.2 million on lobbying in Washington, according to disclosure filings earlier this year.

Ballard is a regional vice chair of the Republican National Committee and helps leads the party’s fundraising.

A lobbyist listed as the Ballard Partners contact on the Sprint account did not respond to a request for comment. Sprint declined to provide an immediate comment.

T-Mobile is close to agreeing to tentative terms on a deal with Sprint that would merge the third and fourth largest U.S. wireless carriers, people familiar with the matter said on Friday.

The transaction would significantly consolidate the U.S. telecommunications market and represent the first transformative U.S. merger with significant antitrust risk since Trump’s inauguration in January.

Trump has been publicly critical of proposed larger corporate mergers despite boasting he is business friendly.

In January, Ballard opened a Washington outpost of his lobbying operation. Susie Wiles, Trump’s Florida campaign manager during the 2016 election, is a also member of the Ballard Partner’s Washington office, but is not listed as working for Sprint. (Reporting by Ginger Gibson; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli and Richard Chang)

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