Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Mark Penn: The hits just keep on coming...

So I know I won't shut up about Mark Penn, but this guy is an utter disgrace and happens to be the Chief Strategist for the democratic front runner. Last time I talked about him, I mentioned that he is the CEO of a firm that engages in union-busting and does PR work for Blackwater. Going through his checklist of clients, he must have figured he was short on corrupt foreign politicians trying to force their way back into power. Not Anymore!
"Meanwhile, the Pakistani opposition party, led by Bhutto, has retained public relations giant Burson-Marsteller and its affiliates, the lobbying firm BKSH & Associates, and the polling firm Penn, Schoen and Berland Associates. The firm declined comment on its activities, which it is charging an initial $75,000, to be followed with monthly payments of $28,500.

The contract filed with the Justice Department does, however, give some insight into what all of the money buys. Among the promised services: surveys of “100 American political, journalistic, and business elites in Washington, D.C., and New York”; an “internal brainstorming session”; and setting up meetings for Bhutto in Washington “with an eye towards convincing U.S. officials that Prime Minister Bhutto is still relevant to further the democratic process in Pakistan.”
So a corrupt former politician is trying to squeeze her way back into power, and who does she pick to lobby her cause in DC? Hillary Clinton's chief strategist. Geekesque over at dailykos has a few questions that should be raised:

"Aside from the International Culture of Corruption this points to, this is disturbing in other ways:
  1. How can Hillary Clinton claim to have clear, unbiased judgment on Pakistan when her chief strategist has a vested interest in seeing one party return to power there? Is she issuing statements because that is what she believes, or because her chief strategist is biased in that regard?
  2. If Bhutto does return to power, will she not be seen as a puppet of Hillary Clinton in Pakistan and elsewhere?
  3. US lobbying firms working on behalf of foreign governments trying to influence US policy is bad enough. But, this unseemly fusion between lobbyist/PR and political figure is incredibly damning. Is Benazir Bhutto effectively getting a 2-1 deal on her money? Mark Penn is available to the highest bidder--do we really want someone whose business it is to shill on behalf of loathsome figures and who is a conflict of interest with feet shaping the policy of our next nominee?"
Well said, the first of many questions that should be asked of Mark Penn. I really can't wait to hear his response. Before you get your hopes up for a tearful apology/resignation (also known as a "Duke"), here are his previous excuses for being representing despicable causes.

When asked about his firm's work on Cintas' anti-union campaign, he said:
"I personally had zero involvement in any of the work related to Cintas."
When asked about his firm's PR work for Blackwater he said:
"It was a temporary assignment based on a relationship that has concluded"
So by taking the Alberto Gonzalez Defense, that leaves us to conclude one of two things: Either you are trying to cover up that you're the CEO of a company that does some downright shameful things... or you're so stupid and incompetent that it's a miracle that you can shave without killing yourself.
Good to see that they keep the ethics bar high over at the Clinton campaign.

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