Jack Quinn served as Vice President Gore’s Chief of Staff, and later as Counsel to President Clinton. Now he is a partner in a political consulting and lobbying firm with a close friend of Tom DeLay, and together, they have represented clients who want to drill in fragile areas of Alaska, put the screws to already beleaguered American consumers, and prevent the introduction of more healthy dairy substitutes in school lunches.
That’s not to say that Jack Quinn is a bad guy. He’s just doing what lots of folks do in the course of making a very comfortable living in Washington.
In today’s cash-fueled political world, both parties claim they have no option but to function as indentured servants of corporate America. This, not surprisingly, creates a dynamic of dependency and obligation. The Republicans have excelled at this game, especially under the tutelage of Karl Rove and Tom DeLay. But the Democrats have, increasingly, belied their long-assumed commitment to the little guy and the average American by cozying up to the money trough as well.
This pattern accelerated markedly under the Clinton Administration, which, despite some reformist tendencies, often aided the big-business agenda, easing domestic regulations and passing international trade agreements that tended to unshackle the large corporation. Some of these changes were clearly in the public interest, such as streamlining cumbersome and often-antiquated bureaucratic processes. But many others were not: lowering environmental thresholds and diminishing governmental oversight. Once the Democrats turned into the opposition, key Clinton figures found a home in offering their advertising, public relations and arm-twisting skills to industry trade associations and corporations. They retained their links to the party, and have lived a kind of dual life ever since, moving effortlessly from corporate work to campaign work and back. The friendliness with big business has escalated under the reign of Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, who has assembled his own so-called “K Street Cabinet” – named after the street where the lobbying hordes are headquartered.
The consequence of this trend is profound. Although establishment Democrats are, by and large, still more skeptical of the corporate agenda than Republicans, they have become strikingly less so. This has led to the creation of a kind of permanent corporate governance structure that is truly bipartisan. Many of the firms employing Democratic operatives have them working side-by-side with Republicans – often the same Republicans they go up against in political campaigns. In some cases, a so-called conservative Republican and a so-called liberal Democrat are full partners in the same firm. It’s the ultimate expression of what once seemed baffling: the apparently successful marriage of Clinton aide James Carville to Bush-Cheney aide Mary Matalin.
In many firms today, former Democratic and Republican legislators work in perfect harmony on behalf of their clients, something that is all but unimaginable on the floor of the House or Senate, where partisanship has made working effectively on behalf of the public, or on behalf of the Republic, next to impossible. As a result, the self-interest of corporations too often trumps the common interest.
Let’s go back to Jack Quinn. After serving at the top of the Clinton-Gore administration, in January 2000 he left what was still a Democratic White House and formed Quinn Gillespie with Ed Gillespie. This firm was among the pioneers of the one-stop-shopping approach that has since swept Washington. Want to influence the legislative process? Now you can get right to the top of both parties by hiring a single firm.
Quinn helped secure a controversial pardon for the fugitive financier Marc Rich as Clinton was leaving office. Gillespie goes in and out of the firm to help the GOP; from July 2003 to January 2005 he headed the Republican National Committee. In May 2005, Gillespie sponsored a table at a Tom DeLay tribute dinner – at the height of DeLay’s ethical and legal troubles – and sat with DeLay at the head table. He also shepherded the Supreme Court nomination of Samuel Alito, and is treasurer of George Allen’s presidential PAC. The firm’s business dropped markedly during a period when Gillespie was away at the RNC, but is now back up. (The new tradition of bipartisan lobbying/consulting firms is perhaps best illustrated by the fact that there are two heavyweight Jack Quinns in the business, playing obverse roles. The other Jack Quinn is a Republican former congressman who works with Democrat Gerald Cassidy.) In 2002, the WPP Group, a global public relations giant that owns many other lobbying and public affairs firms in DC, signed a five-year buyout agreement with Quinn Gillespie.
Firm clients have included: major telecommunications firms; Enron; the American Petroleum Institute (lift federal ban on offshore drilling on the Outer Continental Shelf, including Alaska; oppose proposal to raise taxes for oil companies by changing the way profits are calculated); the Alliance for Quality Nursing Home Care (lobbied against proposed Medicare reform that cut $1.5 billion in add-on payments to nursing homes; Alliance was indicted in late 2004 for $100,000 illegal contribution to DeLay’s PAC); the Partnership to Protect Consumer Credit (which wants to preempt tougher state and local laws designed to protect consumers); the International Dairy Foods Association (which opposes the introduction of more healthful dairy substitutes in school lunches), Entergy (big energy bill proposed in 2003, which included provisions to benefit electric industry); “Ax the Double Tax” coalition (tried to eliminate the individual tax on corporate dividends and has worked on legislation that would allow Hewlett-Packard to repatriate profits from foreign subsidiaries at a lower tax rate); Bank of America (fighting stricter consumer data-protection legislation proposed after big data breach at BOA).
What Thomas Quinn (no relation to either Jack Quinn), says about the work of his firm, Venable LLC, applies to the whole politically-neutral K Street scene today: “Here we work very collegially, and I’ve gotten more collegial as there are more Republicans. We work closely with Republicans. All of us are in this together.”
Thomas Quinn has been active in Democratic politics from Sen. Edward Kennedy’s (D-MA) presidential run in 1980 to Sen. John Kerry’s (D-MA) in 2004. He’s a key player on financial services, taxation and homeland security issues. Venable’s clients have included: Wal-Mart, Tsakopoulos Investments (real estate developer which has worked with Wal-Mart; lobbying concerning the Endangered Species Act); Timmons Real Estate (Endangered Species Act); National Company for Mechanical & Electrical Works Ltd (Kuwaiti firm re contracts in Iraq); Allied Capital (US government ran a criminal investigation of the firm’s largest subsidiary, which makes government-backed loans to small businesses; Venable hired an SEC attorney who grilled a critic of Allied); McWane (Birmingham, AL-based cast iron pipe manufacturer; the company was heavily fined and executives convicted in federal court for environmental crimes).
Now that so many key party operatives earn their “real money” helping corporations exert influence in Washington, they face more and more conflicts when advising Democratic candidates who insist they are dedicated to reform and serving the public interest. Such conflicts speak for themselves. At the very least, it’s tricky to be the strategy adviser to a Democratic candidate who supports publicly-funded universal health insurance when one has spent years working for insurance interests that vehemently oppose any changes. But that is just the scenario playing out every day. The paradoxes are staggering. And, for the most part, they are invisible.
To assist the public in better assessing this problem, the Real News Project has prepared short biographical sketches of 25 Democratic consultants who earn their scones and premium spread from advising, lobbying for, making ads for, or creating public relations campaigns for large corporations and trade associations. This grouping is not intended to be comprehensive, nor is it some kind of “top 25″ list, but rather is meant to illustrate what is happening. The people cited below vary in their influence, professional longevity, and client base, and scores of others do similar work.
A few caveats about the information contained here: It was primarily assembled through publicly-available databases and online sources, including lobbying filings, news articles, company websites, as well as some interviews. All of the individuals listed here were informed of the project, and afforded an opportunity to supply complete client lists. Few chose to do so. The influence industry is in a state of flux. Firms are merging, changing names, forming “alliances” with other firms. They often hand off controversial clients to subsidiaries or in some cases claim to do only legal work, and then subcontract the lobbying. Some clients listed might be connected with the firm rather than the consultant cited; limited available public information makes it difficult to be sure. Some clients are current, and some are not. The issues and public concerns we cite in relation to particular clients do not necessarily reflect the specific work a consultant or a firm performs for the client. And most or all of these consultants represent or have represented clients with charitable or reform-oriented missions; the clients listed do not necessarily constitute the bulk of the work done by any consultant.
As for the issues at stake, they run the gamut from tobacco to military contracting, dumping toxic chemicals to skirting labor laws. Nearly all of these firms serve big clients in ‘homeland security’ and defense work, insurance, health care and pharmaceuticals. Here’s a quick sampling of controversial stances or policies associated with corporate clients employing Democratic consultants.
_ Genetically-modified (GM) food, crops, and organisms. Democratic-associated consultants regularly work for industry groups and prominent firms battling any kind of restrictions or labeling on GM products. One brilliant stroke was to get farm bureaus and farmers to become the chief public advocates of GM, allowing the companies to take a back seat. All this work has clearly paid off. “The GM people are where they want to be,” says Ronnie Cummins, national director of the Organic Consumers Association. “They got their way – there’s no labeling, no safety testing, and the White House has threatened countries that would require labeling or safety testing. Now they are only trying to stop [individual U.S.] counties from banning GM.” Adds Cummins: “You can see the incredible influence Monsanto and the biotech industry had in the Clinton and Bush Administrations. They’ve been able to get genetically-engineered crops planted on one out of every seven acres in the United States, by taking away the consumer’s right to know, and taking away farmers’ rights not to grow GMOs. By deception and coercion they’ve won the battle so far. They announced their policy, called it laissez faire, back when Quayle was vice president – that genetically-engineered foods would not have to be safety-tested or labeled. That basic policy continued through Clinton and Bush Jr, and likely would have continued if Gore had been in there.”
_ Big PHARMA. “With the prescription drug bill, the key provision is that the government does not have the right to negotiate prices with the pharmaceutical industry,” says Robert Weissman, co-director of the corporate accountability group Essential Action and editor of Multinational Monitor. “That position is not sustainable in the long run, but the industry wants that to last as long as possible. It will always be worth it for them to throw more money at it, with the billions of dollars at stake. Internationally, they want to extend patents globally to maintain and extend monopoly protections in developing countries – they’re pushing for the bilateral and regional trade agreements the United States is negotiating around the world.” And the net effect? “People who need medicines can’t get them because the prices are too high, so they suffer and sometimes die as a result,” Weissman says. “Big PHARMA’s global strategy is to try and maintain a worldwide price that will price-gouge those able to afford the drug and leave a lot of people out.”
_ Credit issuers. Helping large credit issuers block measures designed to protect consumers from misleading practices that can lead to an inescapable cycle of growing debt. “In 2003, the industry’s main goal was to preempt for all time state laws regulating the credit and privacy area,” says Ed Mierzwinski, consumer program director for the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (USPIRG). “They put together the Partnership to Protect Consumer Credit. That was a financial industry front group. In 2005, the next main thing they sought was the bankruptcy bill, following an eight-year campaign. The bankruptcy bill was designed by the credit card companies to make it harder and more expensive for consumers to file for a fresh start bankruptcy and instead puts them in a five year debtors’ prison. Their third goal is to ensure that no consumer bills pass.” (It’s worth noting that as First Lady, Hillary Clinton opposed the bankruptcy bill and persuaded President Clinton to veto it, but as a senator, she voted for it.)
_ The spread of gambling, and its social toll. Most of the key backers of so-called Indian gaming are not Indian at all. “These groups are often funded by other gambling interests, and often are playing one tribe against another,” says Rev. Tom Grey, who heads the National Coalition Against Legalized Gambling. “Gambling has a corrosive, corrupting influence on both parties. The Clintons saw Native American gambling as a feeding trough. It was easy money.” It was made easier because Native Americans were a traditional constituency of the Democratic Party, unlike the Republicans, whose recent involvement with gambling on reservations lies at the heart of the explosive Abramoff-DeLay influence peddling scandal.
Among the many other issues touched on below are (1) so-called “free trade”-pushing trading partners, including the European Union, to lower their health, environment and safety standards on all manner of products, from chemicals to finished goods, in the name of unfettered trade, and (2) Wal-Mart – helping this increasingly dominant corporation win a publicity war through a host of techniques, from aggressive tactics to the adoption of measures that soften the company’s image.
One firm in particular that deserves special attention is the GLOVER PARK GROUP.
Founded in 2001, this strategic communications company based in Washington and New York became the chief haven for those exiled by the change of administration. Founders were Bill Clinton’s former spokesman Joe Lockhart and Al Gore’s top strategists Carter Eskew and Michael Feldman. In 2004, Lockhart and partner Howard Wolfson took leaves to work on the Kerry campaign and at the DNC. Miramax, which financed the movie Fahrenheit 9/11, hired the firm to come up with a major national publicity campaign and handle a very public battle with Disney. In 2005, the firm was ranked the fastest-growing private company in the District of Columbia.
Founding partner CARTER ESKEW served as Al Gore’s chief media adviser in 2000; has done work for senators Chris Dodd, Joe Lieberman, and Tom Harkin. Close to Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid. Was criticized for his work in the 1990s providing media advice to the tobacco industry (through his then-PR firm, Bozell Sawyer Miller Group).
Partner JOEL JOHNSON worked in the Clinton White House as senior adviser for policy and communications, was an aide to former South Dakota Sen. Tom Daschle, and chief of staff to ex-Ohio Sen. Howard Metzenbaum. Served as managing director of the Harbour Group LLC, a Democratic-connected lobbying firm with clients in the oil, airline, pharmaceutical and food processing industries. In 2004 he, along with Glover Park partners Joe Lockhart and Howard Wolfson, went to work for the Kerry campaign (Wolfson went to the DNC), then after the campaign joined them at Glover Park. Johnson has represented the Asbestos Study Group, a coalition of companies seeking to limit liability in asbestos lawsuits, and represented the Major League Baseball Players Association in opposing congressional action on steroids.
Partner HOWARD WOLFSON served as a spokesman for Hillary Clinton and as the executive director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Bounces up and back between corporate and Democratic work. In 2004, he went to work for the Democratic National Committee.
With numerous Glover Park staffers regularly advising Hillary Clinton, expect some if not most of them to be extremely influential if she is elected president, with Howard Wolfson perhaps occupying a position similar to that now held by Karl Rove.
The corporate world’s general receptivity to Hillary may in good part be explained by these connections. Murdoch’s New York Post went from gleefully pillorying Hillary to praising her and attacking her critics and opponents. That’s less surprising when you consider that Rupert Murdoch paid Glover Park about $200,000 for work to block tv ratings changes that could harm ad revenues at his Fox Broadcasting (the attempt was unsuccessful). Glover also got a large retainer for pr work and organizing groups (including the Don’t Count Us Out coalition, initially gave the impression it was an independent group representing the interests of people of color) against the plan.
Firm clients have included: Pfizer and Visa (comprehensive reputation campaigns); the government of Turkey; Think About It (a group waging an unsuccessful campaign to allow casino gambling in Maine); Microsoft (handled media inquiries about Microsoft’s ties to Jack Abramoff’s lobbying team); The Pentagon; Asbestos Study Group (industry coalition formed to fight for limits on asbestos-related lawsuits); The Coalition to Preserve DSHEA (prevent FDA from treating food supplements as drugs or food additives and allow companies to continue making health claims without scientific backing; backed by multilevel marketing firms, opposed by most health and consumer groups); the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA); MoneyGram International (concerns over money laundering regulations).
(And while we’re on the topic of ex-Clintonites, let’s consider President Clinton’s former press secretary, Mike McCurry, who is a partner at the firm Public Strategies Washington, Inc., and serves as chairman of Hands Off the Internet, an outfit created by telecom companies such as AT&T and BellSouth. “Hands off” is subject to interpretation, since what these broadband suppliers want is the ability to favor some content providers over others, potentially favoring those with bucks over those without.)
One other firm worth singling out is BURSON-MARSTELLER.
The global public relations firm, now a part of a giant conglomerate, WPP Group PLC, which also owns Quinn-Gillespie and other DC firms cited in this report. Burson practically invented the concept of faux-grassroots organizations (known in the trade as ‘astroturf’) that were no more than fronts for corporations and industries pushing embarrassing products and agendas. For example, Burson created the “National Smokers Alliance,” a purportedly grassroots movement for smokers rights, on behalf of its client Altria (Philip Morris tobacco). When the NSA dissolved in 2001, it gave $5 million to something called the Center for Individual Freedom Foundation (advocates for “smaller government and greater personal liberties,” led by former B-M exec W. Thomas Humber), which has lobbied to block obesity-related lawsuits against fast-food restaurants. One of B-M’s clients is McDonald’s (recent ad campaigns have sought to give the fast-food chain a healthier image by promoting exercise and balanced diets), which has been the target of several such lawsuits.
Other B-M clients have included major pharmaceutical companies (advised Johnson & Johnson after Tylenol tampering crisis; launched a “corporate reputation campaign” for Merck after its blockbuster arthritis drug Vioxx was pulled off the market); major defense contractors; Royal Dutch Shell (charged with a massive financial fraud in a US class action lawsuit brought by the UNITE National Retirement Fund and the Plumbers and Pipefitters National Pension Fund); the Iraqi National Congress (of the controversial Ahmad Chalabi); Dow Chemical (Dow has refused to compensate the victims of the 1984 Bhopal disaster in India, a liability it inherited when it took over Union Carbide.); National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (crisis management to strengthen consumer confidence in beef safety, despite reports of mad cow disease).
Here’s the experience of John Stauber, a longtime consumer advocate, with Burson-Marsteller: “B-M came to my attention in 1990 when a phony organization called the Maryland Citizens Consumer Council infiltrated a meeting I organized of farm and consumer groups opposed to Monsanto’s genetically engineered cow growth hormone, BGH. The group claimed to be concerned moms who didn’t want their school kids drinking milk from cows injected with this drug. In fact, it was composed of B-M employees who were spying on opponents and critics of BGH. B-M was working for the companies developing BGH. I was outraged and I swore to investigate the PR industry. As a result I founded the Center for Media and Democracy in 1993 to investigate and expose B-M and other corporate PR firms. In 2003 we launched our website www.SourceWatch.org to track PR firms, lobbyists and front groups engaged in the propaganda business of ‘perception management.’ ”
MARK PENN was recently named Burson-Marsteller’s Worldwide Chief Executive. In 2001, Burson’s parent company, WPP, acquired Penn Schoen & Berland Associates (PSB), the opinion research firm of which Penn is a founding partner. Penn was a principal pollster for Bill Clinton. He continues to do work for Hillary Rodham Clinton.
The trend continues. In spring, 2006, a Washington Post blog reported that WPP was in the process of acquiring the Dewey Square Group:
“Dewey Square emerged as one of the titans of the consulting industry during the last presidential election when it had its hands in the campaigns of John Kerry, Sen. Joe Lieberman (CT) and former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards. Becoming part of the WPP empire will likely enhance the firm’s prestige and put more resources at its disposal.
Formed in 1993 by Boston-based operatives Michael Whouley, Charles Campion and Charlie Baker, the firm is again positioned to exert considerable influence on the 2008 race.
Whouley is perhaps the most sought-after operative on the Democratic side due to his grassroots organizing abilities – as demonstrated in Kerry’s Iowa caucus victory in 2004. Whouley is expected to be with Kerry should the senator decide to run again, but if the party’s 2004 nominee bows out there will be a mad scramble for Whouley’s services.
Catherine A. McLean – another member of the Dewey inner circle — is working on behalf of Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack, who is considering a run for president in 2008. Minyon Moore will be with Sen. Clinton should she decide to run for president. Nick Baldick, who until recently was a partner at Dewey before striking out to form his own consulting company, is the top political adviser to Edwards.”
THE FOLLOWING IS A REPRESENTATIVE SAMPLING OF DEMOCRATIC-AFFILIATED CONSULTANTS, PRESENTED ALPHABETICALLY
Lobbyist with the DC office of the Barnes & Thornburgh law firm. A native Nevadan and former legislative counsel to Senator Harry Reid, he met with Abramoff’s team over their concern about minimum wage legislation that would impact sweatshops in the Northern Marianas islands, and, within a year, was working for Abramoff as Greenberg Traurig’s Director of Governmental Affairs- and lobbying Reid’s office himself. He became a member of Reid’s so-called “K Street Cabinet”. After working closely with Abramoff on his tribal lobbying, he left Greenberg Traurig in 2005 as the Abramoff scandal exploded and joined Barnes & Thornburgh along with other Greenberg Traurig lobbyists. In 2005, Ayoob pushed the senate confirmation of Timothy Flanigan as Deputy U.S. Attorney General. Flanigan is a former Bush White House Deputy Counsel who moved to Tyco International, where he worked with the Ayoob-Abramoff team to successfully block legislation aimed at capturing income that Tyco and other firms pushed offshore. Ayoob also has been working with a Gibraltar-based online gambling group, International Interactive Alliance, to oppose legislation aimed at stopping online gaming. In 2005, Ayoob praised Reid’s outreach to K Street: “He’s a good legislator, and in order to compromise you need to know where everybody is coming from. And how can you do that if you don’t use K Street or business as part of that equation?”
Senior Vice President in charge of federal lobbying at Dutko Worldwide. Part of Harry Reid’s K Street Cabinet. Served as chief of staff to Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (D-CT), worked at Dutko, then spent a year as a vice president at the centrist Democratic Leadership Council, before returning to Dutko.
Firm clients have included: York Capital Management (an investor in distressed companies with an interest in minimizing asbestos liability; hired Andresen to monitor that legislation pertaining to that issue); Eisai Inc. (this Japanese-owned pharmaceutical company hired Andresen the day after receiving a letter, along with many other companies, from Sen. Grassley, questioning the potentially improper redirection of government educational grants for marketing and sales purposes); Third Way, an advocacy group for centrist Democrats, which is pushing for closer ties to business.
Dutko Group clients have included the Ephedra Committee of the American Herbal Products Association. The controversial Ephedra was blamed in the deaths of scores of people, the best-known being Baltimore Orioles pitcher Steve Bechler; “These herbal supplements are marketed as being all-natural and safe, but in reality they are not safe. They can harm and kill,” according to congressional testimony by Dr. Sidney M. Wolfe, director of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group); Eastern Pequot Indian Tribe of Connecticut (controversy over the basis for the tribe’s winning federal recognition); Business Roundtable (passage of GATT) ; the Personal Watercraft Industry Assn (wants to assure the right to use wave runners and other motorized vehicles on lakes and rivers and in National Parks); the American Chemical Council (oppose efforts to control pollution and protect public health from toxic chemicals, and push US government to oppose EU efforts to test chemicals sold in Europe for health and environmental risks), and General Dynamics (a huge defense and ‘homeland security’ contractor).
R. LANE BAILEY
Head of the Washington office of Golin/Harris, an international PR company (part of Interpublic Group). Served as chief of staff to Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) for 12 years. (Firm’s Executive VP is C. Michael Fulton, former staffer for Democratic Congressman Rep. Robert Mollohan, also of West Virginia; Mollohan, the ranking Democrat on the House ethics committee, faces scrutiny regarding how he became a multimillionaire over the course of four years while serving on the appropriations committee.)
Firm clients have included: Dow Chemical (appointed in 2006 to run a global campaign to improve the company’s reputation-Dow has refused to compensate the victims of the 1984 Bhopal disaster in India, a liability it inherited when it took over Union Carbide); Dubai Aerospace Enterprise (a newly founded $15 billion venture funded by Dubai government, intending to become “one of the driving forces of the global economy”); Wynn Resorts (Gambling: issues have included getting imported slot machines treated as computers, and getting federal hurricane relief funds for casinos): Donald Tsang (image work for Beijing-backed chief executive of Hong Kong); McDonald’s (concerns include the impact of lawsuits over obesity, popular highly-critical films like Supersize Me and Fast Food Nation, minimum wage, franchising laws).
President, The Duberstein Group. A well-connected veteran Democrat who has played a key role in every convention since 1968. His practice includes healthcare and communications issues. A declared straight on the board of the gay rights group, the Human Rights Campaign. His boss, Kenneth Duberstein, is a former chief of staff to President Reagan.
Firm clients have included Comcast (nation’s largest cable operator, uses aggressive anti-union tactics, trying to block cities from providing cheap wireless Internet access, censored political issue ads it didn’t like); Pfizer (pharmaceutical giant); DeBeers (hired to protect the interests of the huge international diamond mining/trading company as Congress considered legislation that would strengthen bans against the sale of so-called “conflict diamonds” that fund civil wars in parts of Africa); Arthur Andersen (Enron accounting scandal), and something called “Americans for Accountability” (lobbying disclosures for this ‘accountability’ group say it is interested in educational reform but unaccountably does not show up in article database searches or search engines); the oil companies Conoco, Amerada Hess, and USX/Marathon (firms that supported lifting economic sanctions against Libya, named as a state sponsor of terror, to gain access to Libya’s vast oil reserves); The Business Roundtable (big business super-lobby-goals include social security privatization, elimination of class action suits, and opposing mandatory reductions of greenhouse emissions).
Lobbyist with the law firm of Patton Boggs, number one firm in terms of lobbying revenue in 2005. Former Democratic Senator from Louisiana famed for his consistent advocacy of his state’s big businesses and for supporting the Bush tax cuts; said his vote could not be bought “but it can be rented.” Longtime member of Senate Finance Committee, which has jurisdiction over three of the most lobbied topics in town: taxes, trade and health care. After leaving the senate, he was appointed by President Bush as vice chairman of a panel on overhauling the tax code while working at Patton Boggs (though not officially as a ‘lobbyist’ at first) with clients that included two New York investment firms.
Vice president of Edelman World-Wide. Former media consultant for Bill Clinton, former senior advisor for communication for the Democratic National Committee and the Kerry for President Campaign in 2004. Key organizer of the 2004 Democratic Convention, manager of Democratic response to the 2004 Republican Convention. Lobbyist for Environmental Defense Fund.
Firm clients include Wal-Mart – Dach was architect of the Arkansas-based company’s “rapid-response war room” designed to preempt and counterattack criticism of the company from labor, environmental and small business critics. Dach heads Edelman’s Corporate Social Responsibility practice where his role has included defending Edelman PR’s relationship with tobacco companies, despite the company’s pledge not to represent tobacco companies. Clients of his CSR practice include TotalFinaElf, an oil conglomerate with interests in Sudan and investments in Burma which provide revenues to the country’s oppressive military regime, along with the foods giant Kraft (owned by tobacco company Altria, it is trying to improve its image and convince the public it is not aggressive in marketing junk foods to kids; the company makes, among other things, Oreo, Chips Ahoy!, and Kool-Aid). Dach is also head of the agency’s advertising operation, Blue Worldwide, whose clients include the American Petroleum Institute.
Lobbyist with the law firm of Shook, Hardy and Bacon. Goldberg served as an aide to several Democratic members of Congress. Before coming to Shook Hardy, he headed DC public relations firm Ketchum’s litigation communications section (Ketchum, run by former GOP House star Susan Molinari, is the outfit that channeled $240,000 from the Bush Administration to Armstrong Williams, the prominent African-American radio and television personality, for his support for the president’s No Child Left Behind project). He also worked at Powell Tate (described elsewhere; run by Carterite Jody Powell and Nancy Reagan ex-press secretary Sheila Tate). Promotional materials say that Goldberg “educates the public and other important audiences of client issues. Through his work, Phil has become an emerging voice in the moderate wing of the Democratic Party.”
Goldberg personally represents the National Restaurant Association (objectives include making it more difficult to sue over obesity-related issues, and opposition to consumer group efforts for greater truth in labeling).
Firm clients have included: The Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers (on medical malpractice liability and opposing class actions); Animal Health Institute (on limiting pet medicine manufacturers’ liability for animal health); Philip Morris/Altria (limiting liability in class-action suits); Coalition for Litigation Justice (insurance industry lobby group seeking to limit liability in asbestos and silica cases); the American Tort Reform Association (Victor Schwartz, head of Hardy’s Public Policy Group, also serves as General Counsel to the Tort Association). The firm was named by The International Who’s Who of Business Lawyers 2005 as “the world’s leading firm for product liability defense expertise.”
A principal at Olsson, Frank and Weeda. Matz was liberal Democratic Senator George McGovern’s nutrition expert when McGovern chaired the Agriculture Committee. Represents big agribusiness trade associations, whose objectives have included federal approval of controversial food irradiation as way of killing food-borne pathogens. “That’s easier for them than cleaning up their plants,” says Tony Corvo, of the nonprofit group Food and Water Watch. Olsson Frank has separate PACs for channeling money to Democrats and Republicans.
Partner at the Brunswick Group, a corporate communications firm. Former chairman of Burson-Marsteller’s Global Government Affairs practice. Mintz ran the media operation at the Department of Transportation during the Bill Clinton administration, and served as staff director for Hillary Clinton during the 1992 campaign. Has been quoted as saying that helping controversial or divisive clients is what PR firms were created for, and therefore they shouldn’t shy away from them. He states that employees can decline to work for a client.
Firm clients have included: Martha Stewart (insider trading); Shell Oil (exaggeration of Nigerian oil and gas deposits); CNOOC (Chinese oil company which failed in controversial bid to purchase American firm Unocal); Dubai Ports World (controversial takeover of British firm P&O that included American ports).
Partner and Co-Chair of Government Controversies Practice Group at Piper Rudnick Gray Cary. Former Senate Majority Leader from Maine, still one of the most respected figures in Washington.
The firm (which has signed on former Democratic congressmembers Dick Gephardt and Jennifer Dunn; former GOP Majority Leader Dick Armey is a senior adviser to the firm) has represented: Major defense and pharmaceutical concerns; The Abbey Company (Southern California-based Real Estate company, refused to renew lease for an abortion clinic after pro-life groups picketed the site); Ergon (petrochemical refining company; emits neurotoxins suspected of causing a range of mental and physical defects in children); Utility Solid Waste Activities (industry group opposing regulation and bans on toxic pollutants); BDO Seidman (accounting firm accused of promoting abusive tax shelters).
Another client is Altria (Philip Morris Tobacco). “Big tobacco wants George Mitchell as its lobbyist now for the same reason they reportedly paid him millions just a few years ago in an unsuccessful attempt to persuade Congress to grant the industry total immunity from multi-billion dollar law suits; they hope it will buy them both access and some much-needed respectability,” says Prof. John F. Banzhaf III, Executive Director of Action On Smoking and Health (ASH). “They hope that some of his reputation – as an ‘honest broker’ of peace in Northern Ireland and in the Mid East – will help cover up their image as an industry which kills millions by cover-ups and deception. They hope that few will remember that George – along with other K Street rock stars like Bob Dole (whose first wife was killed by big tobacco) – fought to immunize the industry in what was called the largest “stealth lobbying campaign of all time” because it relied on personal access and private assurances rather than a major media campaign and coalition building… One can only hope that George will be no more successful now than when his clients were forced to accept a settlement which cost them almost a quarter of a TRILLION dollars, killed off Joe Camel, and brought an end to cigarette billboards.”
RONALD L. PLATT
Director of federal government relations with the DC office of the law firm Buchanan Ingersoll. Served as an aide to Clinton Administration Treasury Secretary and former Sen. Finance Committee chair Lloyd M. Bentsen (D-TX). Platt was involved in the last three presidential elections, including as state director for the Gore-Lieberman’s successful campaign in Michigan. As senior director of government affairs at Greenberg Traurig LLP, he lobbied for tribal clients of Jack Abramoff. Lobbied Harry Reid for his client the Northern Marianas islands, which were seeking to avoid the application of a minimum wage bill. At Greenberg Traurig, he worked closely with Republican Senator Connie Mack of Florida on the successful passage of legislation directing the Treasury Dept. (after the Clinton Administration had declined) to use frozen Cuban assets to satisfy $96.7 million in damages that families of three slain anti-Castro Cuban-Americans had won in U.S. federal court against the Castro regime. The men, members of the anti-Castro group Brothers to the Rescue, died when their small plane was shot down by Cuban jets on Feb. 24, 1996. Contingency fees for Traurig were considerable, and an aide to Mack was later hired by the firm. Platt also led an effort by Greenberg Traurig in the late 90s helping Donald Trump, a longtime critic of Indian-owned gaming operations, explore joint ventures with several Indian tribes, and to steer him through Washington regulatory agencies that oversee deals with tribal casinos. He also helped Diamond Shamrock, a petroleum refiner, favorably resolve a tax dispute with Argentina, via his former lobbying partner, Ron Brown, who served at the time as Clinton’s Commerce Secretary. On joining his current firm, Platt said he was looking for a Republican lobbyist to team up with. Among his clients is Sportingbet, a British online gaming company, which hopes to legalize online gaming in the US with the government’s blessing. He has a background in tax policy. He has also served as senior vice president of corporate affairs for Burger King and assistant vice president of corporate affairs for Reynolds Metal Company.
Principal, Podesta Mattoon. Brother of John Podesta (Bill Clinton’s final chief of staff, John did occasional lobbying for Podesta Mattoon until 2003, when he founded the Center for American Progress). Firm is bipartisan. One associate is Joshua Hastert, son of House Speaker Denny Hastert. Another is Amy Jensen, a former aide to both Denny Hastert (R-IL) and Tom DeLay (R-TX). Firm clients have included major pharmaceutical firms; Vehicle Renting and Leasing Alliance ( opposed holding rental companies liable for injury, death or property damage arising from renter or lessee’s negligence); U.S. Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (lobbying to allow Made in USA labels on garments produced at levels below US minimum wages); Pacific Open Markets Coalition (ditto) , Coalition for Fair and Affordable Lending (nonprime mortgage lenders who oppose state and local laws designed to protect consumers); Altria (Philip Morris Tobacco).
Principal, Blank Rome Government Relations. New to the lobbying game, but blessed with a useful name – her husband is super-lobbyist Anthony Podesta, and her brother-in-law former Clinton chief of staff John Podesta. A former counsel to the late Rep. Robert Matsui (D-CA) and to Rep. Earl Pomeroy (D-ND) as well as a staffer for former Sen. Bill Bradley (D-NJ), she raises a lot of money, both in tandem with her husband and on her own. She was Assistant General Counsel at the Air Transport Association, which represents the major U.S. airlines and cargo carriers on industry aviation issues. She also served as General Counsel to the Airlines Clearing House, a multi-billion dollar international banking mechanism by which the world’s airlines conduct financial transactions with each other.
Firm clients have included: Comcast, Equistar Chemicals (rated high in national rankings of emissions of recognized reproductive toxicants and carcinogens); Koch Industries (the Wichita-based privately-held petroleum company is a major funder of the GOP and conservative causes including eliminating the estate tax); fined a record sum by the EPA over more than 300 spills from faulty pipelines, was also fined for releasing oil into streams, and fined for concealing illegal releases of the known carcinogen, benzene.
Chairman and CEO, Powell Tate/Weber Shandwick, aka Weber Shandwick Public Affairs. Powell Tate, a PR and crisis management firm once owned by Cassidy Cos, was bought in 1999 by Shandwick, a subsidiary of Interpublic (a giant multinational which also owns Golin Harris) that merged with Weber PR Worldwide in 2001 to form Weber Shandwick. Powell was President Jimmy Carter’s press secretary. His business partner, Sheila Tate, is a Republican who was Nancy Reagan’s press secretary.
Firm clients have included: major defense and homeland security contactors; the Saudi Economic and Development Co (whose projects must comply with Islamic law; one lobbyist representing them is the daughter of Rep. William Delahunt, a Democrat on the House Committee on International Relations); Crusader Industrial Alliance (lobbied Congress and the Pentagon not to terminate the Crusader self-loading cannon system, which critics called outdated); the Malaysian Rubber Export Promotion Council (opposes a federal ban on latex gloves in food service and health care; some states have banned them based on links to allergic reactions); the Alliance for Better Foods (created to promote public acceptance and to oppose labeling of genetically modified foods); Monsanto (leading source of genetically-modified crops); the Chemical Manufacturers Association, Procter & Gamble, Philip Morris, and numerous other large food, chemical and pharmaceutical corporations. Extensive ‘crisis management’ work, including for Jack in the Box, Hooters of America, and Food Lion (which gained notoriety when an ABC News hidden camera report revealed shocking labor and sanitary practices in its supermarkets); Americans for Safe & Efficient Transportation (represents trucking, road building and manufacturing associations as well as some labor groups in opposing tough state clean air standards); the Japanese Whaling Association; the New Zealand government-owned logging company Timberlands (was involved in controversial rainforest logging on public lands).
Principal, Ricchetti Inc. A former deputy chief of staff to President Bill Clinton, Ricchetti remains well connected in Democratic political circles. He was instrumental in creating the Voices for Choices coalition of long-distance companies along with Republican Charlie Black. Was a spokesman on the release of Bill Clinton’s 2004 autobiography.
Firm clients have included: Experian (sought changes in the Fair Credit Reporting Act, which regulates their industry); the Automated Power Exchange (regulatory actions; energy trader accused of rigging artificial shortages a la Enron); the Health Insurance Association of America (opposes universal health coverage); Pfizer (pharmaceutical giant); the Nuclear Energy Institute.
Partner in Venn Strategies, a largely female-run firm set up in 2001. She was economics adviser to Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-CT) and worked as legislative director and tax adviser for Sen. Bob Kerrey (D-NE) The firm focuses on tax, health care and economic policy. Her specialty is ‘the intersection of taxes and health care.’ She has been rated one of DC’s ‘Top 10′ tax lobbyists by the organization Tax Analysts. Prior to Venn, she was managing director at the consulting firm Clark & Weinstock.
Firm clients have included the American Education Reform Foundation. The foundation, based in Valencia, Calif., is one of the leaders in the nationwide fight for school vouchers. Opponents of the foundation’s efforts include People for the American Way and the NAACP. At Clark & Weinstock (OmniCom), one of her clients was the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, which opposed new efforts to create outside monitoring of the accounting profession in the wake of the Enron scandal. (Urban worked with a C&W partner, former GOP congressman Vin Weber, an ex-board member at AICPA.) Another client she represented was Microsoft, which was fighting off antitrust concerns.
Principal, Wexler and Walker Public Policy Associates. Served as a top policy aide in the Carter administration, then launched her firm in 1981.
Firm clients have included: Wyeth (Pharmaceutical); Taser International (makers of controversial stun guns); Williams Cos. (a huge natural gas pipeline company supporting drilling in the Artic National Wildlife Refuge); CADIZ (an agricultural firm accused by environmental groups and members of the scientific community of excessive rates of water extraction from beneath federal land); represented both an alliance of local hydropower districts pushing for state regulation of electricity markets, and an industry coalition lobbying for federal regulation through regional markets – and for deregulation of the industry.
Head of consulting firm, GoodWorks International. Noted civil rights leader and contemporary of Martin Luther King. In a symbolically freighted move, GWI, which advises corporations on how to be “forward-thinking,” moved in 2005 to K Street.
Firm clients have included: Nike (Young gave a clean bill of health to Nike’s controversial Asian factories; at the time, the company was accused of violating virtually every international labor standard); Wal-Mart (is chairing an organization called Working Families for Wal-Mart, intended to counter the chain’s negative image and praise Wal-Mart for bringing low prices and jobs to inner-city neighborhoods).
The following two individuals are partners in D&P CREATIVE STRATEGIES, whose motto is “Consulting with a Social Conscience”. D&P stresses that it is owned and run by minorities – and gay Latinas, no less. Among other things, it gives corporations advice on fostering an improved image through philanthropy, outreach to communities of color, etc.
Worked for the Clerk of the US House of Representatives, the House Banking Committee under Rep. Henry B. Gonzalez, ran the Washington, DC office of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, served on Clinton’s Advisory Committee on HIV/AIDS, and the Minority Veterans Advisory Board; president of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI) for six years, where she spent time soliciting funds from foundations and corporations. In 2000, she became the first gay Latina to serve on the Human Rights Campaign Board of Directors, and is also currently a member of the National Hispana Leadership Institute (NHLI) and The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) Boards.
CATHERINE M. PINO
Served as the Deputy Director of Urban School Reform for the Carnegie Corporation of New York; worked for Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM); served on the National Council of La Raza and handled nonprofit issues at the Washington, DC-based Independent Sector. Board member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute; first Latina co-chair and board member of the Hetrick-Martin Institute in New York City; serves on various philanthropic committees including Hispanics in Philanthropy, Grantmakers for Education, Donors Education Collaborative and Latino Fund of the Tri-State.
Firm clients include: Wal-Mart; Comcast (nation’s largest cable operator, uses aggressive anti-union tactics, trying to block cities from providing cheap wireless Internet access, censored political issue ads it didn’t like); Sodexho (huge French-owned military food contractor, facing class action suit by black employees over racial discrimination in hiring and promoting practices).
Finally, a note on hope: This situation need not endure forever. Several organizations are working to reform the political contribution laws that make corporate interests so powerful. And with the election of a president who will appoint democracy-minded federal judges, we may yet see the overturning of Buckley v. Valeo, a decision that ended America’s key experiment with campaign reform, legislation signed, remarkably, by Richard Nixon — which included federal funding of elections, and limits on contributions and campaign spending.
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