BGR Group Announces Two Key Promotions

WASHINGTON, D.C. (January 6, 2023) – BGR Group, Washington, D.C.’s premier bipartisan lobbying and public relations firm, today announced that Lester Munson has been named Co-Head of the firm’s International and Trade Practice and Chelsea Mincheff has been promoted to General Counsel.

“Les and Chelsea have been outstanding colleagues and contributors to BGR’s success,” BGR President Erskine Wells said. “We are proud of their accomplishments and congratulate them on their well-deserved promotions.”

As Co-Head of the International and Trade Practice, Lester assists corporations, foreign governments, and advocacy groups advance their policy objectives. He also leads the firm’s foreign assistance practice, which provides advisory and government relations services to companies, advocacy groups, and non-governmental organizations. As a former senior United States Agency for International Development (USAID) official and veteran of multiple congressional committees, Lester provides clients with a unique set of skills and experience to advance their goals.

Lester joined BGR Group in November 2015 after a 26-year career on Capitol Hill and in the Executive Branch. He had most recently been Staff Director of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, where he led policy, oversight, legislative, and communications efforts for a staff of 25 and negotiated committee priorities with the White House, the State Department and Congressional leadership.

Previously, Lester was Chief of Staff for Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois. At the time, Senator Kirk was a leading Republican voice in the Senate on Iran and other national security issues.

As General Counsel, Chelsea will handle the firm’s compliance with lobbying, ethics, and disclosure regulations. She joined BGR in 2020 after serving as Legislative Director for Congressman Tom Rice (R-S.C.), a member of the House Ways and Means Committee. In that job, she helped set the Congressman’s legislative agenda, including for health care, Social Security, energy, transportation, infrastructure, and appropriations. She worked with agencies and state officials on major infrastructure projects and on relief in the wage of Hurricanes Dorian, Florence and Matthew.

From 2011 to 2017, Chelsea was Associate Attorney at the Mullikin Law Firm, LLC, a South Carolina-based government affairs firm. There, she analyzed congressional, state, and local legislation and developed strategies for the energy industry and large manufacturers.

OPINION: New Iran Nuclear Deal Looks Weaker Than First, and Congress Needs To Strike It


Based on what we know now, Congress should move to disapprove the deal and block the president from waiving any sanctions on Iran.

In the next few days, expect an announcement that the Obama administration’s nuclear agreement with Iran has been brought back from the dead. Months of discussions between the Biden team, Russia, China, France, Britain, Germany, and Ebrahim Raisi’s terrorist-sponsoring Iranian government have produced a revised version of the deal that President Trump disemboweled four years ago.



International Outlook from Both Sides of BGR

BGR’s bipartisan lobbying expertise is highlighted by Mark Tavlarides, a former Democratic congressional aide, and Lester Munson, a former Republican staffer, who discuss the international policy outlook in a Biden or Trump administration.


Trump hobbles foreign aid as coronavirus rips around the world


April 15, 2020

Earlier this week, a group of officials with USAID, an agency on the front lines of the rapidly escalating global battle against the coronavirus, found themselves in an increasingly bizarre conversation with some of their colleagues inside the Trump administration.

The officials wanted to know if they could tell America’s longtime global health partners, like the World Health Organization, the international Red Cross and UNICEF, that they were allowed to use U.S. funds to buy coronavirus test kits and certain chemicals. But they couldn’t get a clear answer to their question.

Instead, their colleagues kept responding with cryptic emails saying that those items were on a list that they did not disclose. But they wouldn’t say whether that mysterious list consisted of items that could be purchased or could not be purchased. When pressed for clarity by the flustered USAID officials, the colleagues said they were awaiting guidance on their purchasing questions from higher authorities, presumably the White House.

According to interviews with more than half a dozen current and former USAID officials as well as other people familiar with the agency, the baffling exchange is indicative of how many USAID staffers say they feel frozen as the virus rips through poor countries such as Pakistan and Ecuador. Instead of clear guidance from the Trump administration’s upper echelons, they are getting mixed signals on whether to push or hold back, wasting critical time that could be used to fight the outbreak.

“By the time we get money at the door, we may not able to do anything effective for the coronavirus,” one USAID official said. “This is the dumbest way to try and beat a pandemic.”

The confusion could hardly come at a worse time for USAID. The aid agency, which manages about $20 billion in foreign aid each year, has just begun a leadership transition, with the recent departure of its well-regarded administrator Mark Green and his replacement by an acting chief. USAID also has fended off attempts to slash its budget by a president deeply skeptical of the value of foreign aid. And a White House review of what material USAID gives other countries has compounded the overall uncertainty at the agency.

The tumult comes as the agency gears up to play a critical role in the global fight against Covid-19. The virus is now spreading in developing countries ill-equipped to combat the outbreak on their own but where USAID officials have deep relationships and technical expertise. Agency officials say their effort to stop the virus in those countries is not simply about altruism: Eradicating Covid-19 in places like Africa and Latin America could help prevent the virus from reemerging in the United States and setting off a second wave of deaths and economic collapse.

“USAID has got a presence in scores of countries likely to be hardest hit because their own capabilities are modest,” said Lester Munson, co-chair of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network and a former USAID official. “It’s going to need resources, some judgment, top cover from the State Department and the White House to do the things it needs to do.”

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