Change to Win Calls for Penn Resignation

It would appear that Penn's conflict of interest in meeting with Colombia's US Ambassador to talk about a bilateral free-trade is not going away.

While many have tried to argue that Mr. Penn was simply wearing a different hat, Penn himself has already admitted that his decision to meet with the ambassador was an "error in judgment". (http://thepage.time.com/mark-penns-state ment-on-colombia-trade-deal-talks/).

Change to Win - which involves seven unions and six million workers - is now calling for the resignation of Penn. Their statement has been posted on the Change to Win www site (http://www.changetowin.org/connect/2008/ 04/mark_penn_has_to_go.html).

I repost it here for convenience:

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What if My Advisors Had "Private Meetings with Foreign Governments?"

Last month, when it emerged that an economic advisor to Barack Obama had held a private meeting with the Canadian government over the issue of trade, Hillary Clinton asked the following question (via Ben Smith):

Peering at the 50 or so reporters packed into a small hotel conference room here, she added: "I would ask you to look at this story and substitute my name for Sen. Obama's name and see what you would do with this story... Just ask yourself [what you would do] if some of my advisers had been having private meetings with foreign governments."

Well, perhaps Clinton threw down the gauntlet too soon. The big story of the day, or at least one of them, comes from Susan Davis from The Wall Street Journal:

Hillary Clinton's chief campaign strategist met with Colombia's ambassador to the U.S. on Monday to discuss a bilateral free-trade agreement, a pact the presidential candidate opposes.

Attendance by the adviser, Mark Penn, was confirmed by two Colombian officials. He wasn't there in his campaign role, but in his separate job as chief executive of Burson-Marsteller Worldwide, an international communications and lobbying firm. The firm has a contract with the South American nation to promote congressional approval of the trade deal, among other things, according to filings with the Justice Department.

[...]

The spokesman said he didn't know if Mr. Penn was representing Sen. Clinton or Burson-Marsteller, which signed a $300,000, one-year contract with the Colombian Embassy in March 2007 to work on behalf of the trade deal and anti-drug-trafficking initiatives, according to the Justice Department filings.

At the goading of Senator Clinton herself, I think it's well worth asking why her top strategist and advisor is off working on behalf of issues she purports to be opposed to (the WSJ quotes her as saying that there should be "no trade deal with Colombia while violence against trade unionists continues in that country"). At the same time, it's also well worth asking why just days after Penn met with the Colombians the country's President came out swinging against Obama.

Colombia's president sharply criticized U.S. presidential contender Barack Obama on Wednesday for opposing a trade deal with his country, calling the Democrat out of touch with the realities of the South American nation.

Hmm. The President of Colombia, who hasn't been heard from during the first 15 months of the presidential election up here in the United States, begins attacking Obama, but not Clinton, for a position on trade both seem to hold (at least if you believe Clinton) -- on the same week that Clinton's top consultant secretly met with the Colombians. Perhaps reporters should be asking themselves what they would do now in the wake of Penn's "private meetings with foreign governments," as Clinton suggested last month...

Update [2008-4-4 11:46:4 by Jonathan Singer]:Some enterprising vlogger has already put together a video on the story:

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Hillary Campaign Busted: Colombia NAFTA Scandal Brewing

Update-

Remember, just a few weeks ago, one day before the Ohio primary, on March 3, when Senator Clinton - with an assist from Canadian officials - made a mountain out of Canadian press reports that an unpaid economic advisor to Senator Obama had reportedly met with a low-level Canadian diplomat?

Here is what she said:

"If you come to Ohio and you go give speeches that are very critical of NAFTA... and then we find out that your chief economic adviser has gone to a foreign government and basically done the old wink-wink - `Don't pay any attention, this is just political rhetoric' -- I think that raises serious questions...
"I would ask you to look at this story and substitute my name for Sen. Obama's name and see what you would do with this story... Just ask yourself [what you would do] if some of my advisers had been having private meetings with foreign governments."

Now we get to find out.
The Wall Street Journal reports:
Clinton Aide Met on Trade Deal
Penn Held Talks On Colombia Pact Opposed by Senator
By SUSAN DAVIS
April 4, 2008; Page A3
Hillary Clinton's chief campaign strategist met with Colombia's ambassador to the U.S. on Monday to discuss a bilateral free-trade agreement, a pact the presidential candidate opposes.

Attendance by the adviser, Mark Penn, was confirmed by two Colombian officials...
Wait. The plot thickens!

He wasn't there in his campaign role, but in his separate job as chief executive of Burson-Marsteller Worldwide, an international communications and lobbying firm. The firm has a contract with the South American nation to promote congressional approval of the trade deal, among other things, according to filings with the Justice Department...
Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates, Mr. Penn's campaign-consulting firm, received more than $10 million in payments from the Clinton campaign as of the end of February, according to federal election filings...

A spokesman for Colombia's President Álvaro Uribe said the ambassador met with Mr. Penn to discuss the bilateral agenda...

The spokesman said he didn't know if Mr. Penn was representing Sen. Clinton or Burson-Marsteller, which signed a $300,000, one-year contract with the Colombian Embassy in March 2007 to work on behalf of the trade deal and anti-drug-trafficking initiatives, according to the Justice Department filings.
Mark Penn is not - as in the case that Senator Clinton cited on March 3 - an unpaid issues advisor, but, rather, the commander-in-chief of the Clinton campaign: the chief strategist, pollster, message czar, and the highest paid member of her campaign staff.

I can't remember a presidential campaign in my lifetime in which the top strategist moonlighted for corporate accounts during the heat of the primaries. The conflict of interest is staggering. Add to that press reports about how former campaign manager Patty Solis Doyle went to Senator Clinton and begged her to fire Penn, but it was Solis Doyle, not the man in charge, that was cut loose as scapegoat for the campaign's ailments.
Somewhere in Pennsylvania there is a factory that employs Americans at union wages. Somewhere in North Carolina and Indiana, too... The "free trade" agreement that Penn was paid $300,000 to shepherd to passage would open the door for the company that owns the factory to move it to a country where if a worker tries to start a union, chances are he or she will be assassinated. The company will be able to get the same work done, in that case, for slave wages, and without any of those pesky environmental, safety and health regulations that protect the worker in Pennsylvania.

Clinton's March 3 challenge to the press corps - ""I would ask you to look at this story and substitute my name for Sen. Obama's name and see what you would do with this story" - is eerily reminiscent of when a certain Colorado senator running for president in 1988 denied reports about his private life and urged reporters: ""Follow me around. I don't care. I'm serious. If anybody wants to put a tail on me, go ahead. They'll be very bored."

Of course, this scandal doesn't involve sex... just the wellbeing of workers and their families across the United States, with the sword of another dangerous "free trade" agreement dangling over their heads.

Source-http://ruralvotes.com/thefield/?p=998

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Stolen Election?!? If this election was so unfair...

On Saturday Cyn NY wrote this diary claiming that Obama has stolen this election.

Sunday, Alegre wrote a diary decrying Obama's "Chicago smack-down politics" in reference to the failure of the MI & FL to agree on revotes.

Look if this election was so unfair, then why did she agree to the rules in the first place?  I mean who had more power in the Democratic Party than Senator (Former First Lady) Hillary Clinton.  

She is losing (not lost, although there is a very small chance for her to pull it out), b/c she made poor strategic decisions.  If you don't believe me, then follow me over the flip...

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Howard Wolfson: The Three Diamond Man

News is that the Clinton campaign is in debt: it owes $8.7 million to vendors, not counting the $5 million it owes to Hillary clinton herself. Even after raising a record 35 million dollars in February(eclipsed only by Obama's $55 million).  Much of it (about half)  in small donations. One imagines many hardworking older women who identify with Hillary Clinton's struggles digging deep into their personal savings to contribute to her struggling campaign. It is not all fatcats that are supporting the Clinton campaign.

So where is the money going? Some of it  is the usual stuff of political campaigns: TV ads, Radio, dough nuts for the volunteers etc. But the Clinton campaign stands out in the remarkable fees charged by her campaign's star staffers. Especially remarkable considering their  sheer incompetence in planning and presenting her candidacy.

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