UPDATED: Union Leaders Write to Hillary About Her Union Busting Strategist

It's been covered by a couple of writers already, but the history of Hillary's Chief Pollster and Campaign strategist is very troubling for anyone who cares about ethics and Unions.

Here in the Nation
http://www.thenation.com/doc/20070521/be rman

One example from Sirota here
http://davidsirota.com/index.php/2007/0525/ap-clinton-aides-being-paid-by-colom bian-government-to-push-trade-deal

Well the Unions are finally catching on.

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/05/us/pol itics/05labor.html?_r=1&ref=politics&oref=slogin

The presidents of two large labor unions have written to Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton to complain that Mark Penn, her pollster and chief strategist, is chief executive of a public relations firm that is helping a company fight a unionization drive.

In the letter sent Friday, which a labor official released yesterday, James P. Hoffa, president of the Teamsters, and Bruce Raynor, president of Unite Here, wrote that they did not want to see Mrs. Clinton or the Democratic Party embarrassed by the anti-union activities of Mr. Penn's firm, Burson-Marsteller, one of the nation's leading public relations companies.

"If Hillary is pro-worker and pro-union, she will certainly take steps to rein in Mr. Penn," Mr. Hoffa said in an interview. "He cannot serve two masters, working for a pro-union candidate and working for anti-union companies."

They said the public relations firm's "activities in the effort to undermine workers' right to organize at Cintas, a campaign our unions are involved in, is particularly disheartening." Four years ago, the two unions began a major drive to unionize 17,000 workers at the Cintas Corporation, the nation's largest uniform rental company. Cintas, helped by Burson-Marsteller, has responded with a vigorous -- and thus far successful -- effort to resist unionization.

Mr. Hoffa and Mr. Raynor, whose union represents apparel, hotel and restaurant workers, noted that they had learned of Burson-Marsteller's anti-union activities in an article last week in The Nation magazine. Their action comes as Mrs. Clinton prepares to speak at an A.F.L.-C.I.O. forum on Saturday in Detroit.

Mr. Penn did polling for Bill Clinton when he was president and has long been a top adviser to Mrs. Clinton. Thirty years ago, Mr. Penn founded a prominent polling firm, now known as Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates. In December 2005, he was named chief executive of Burson-Marsteller.

Mr. Raynor said, "She ought to send a clear message to this guy Penn that she is unhappy about this union-busting stuff and that he shouldn't be associated with it."

Because it's not sexy enough I doubt the mainstream media will talk much about things like PAC contributions etc...  The ethical part - that I never realized at the time - was during the justice departments investigation into Microsoft - Microsoft was Penn's biggest client while simultaneously mark penn was Bill Clinton's chief pollster.

Update: Wouldn't it be funny if Edwards showed up at one of Penn's Clients sites to organize workers?

A labor official told me that he expects Hillary to sit down with the two union heads and "placate us a little bit. But I don't think she'll cut Penn lose. He's her Rove."

Penn may eventually be forced take a formal leave of absence from Burson-Marsteller, a step he has thus far resisted. That might erase the political liability Penn has become for Hillary's campaign, but it hardly diminishes the underlying implications of his presence as her top strategist, the anti-union work Burson-Marsteller continues to do and the likelihood that if Hillary is elected Penn and his clients will greatly benefit, further blurring the distinction between the corporate and political world.

Tags: Hillary (all tags)

Comments

37 Comments

huh?

What's unethical about PAC contributions?

by Adam B 2007-06-05 06:16AM | 0 recs
no.. that's not the part

the part that Microsoft was being investigated by Bill Clinton's justice department while, Bill Clinton's chief pollster was representing Microsoft...

that part is what I'd consider unethical... Of course ethics and legality are not the same as you know...

by TarHeel 2007-06-05 06:19AM | 0 recs
Re: no.. that's not the part

You wrote: "Because it's not sexy enough I doubt the mainstream media will talk much about things like PAC contributions etc... "

I have no idea what that means.  Still.

by Adam B 2007-06-05 06:55AM | 0 recs
sorry just a random

thought that if I were a good writer would be irrelevant.

It still irks me that corporate interests are also contributing to Senator Clinton via PACs...

by TarHeel 2007-06-05 08:36AM | 0 recs
by Adam B 2007-06-05 08:46AM | 0 recs
I no there are non-corporate

PACs but Obama and Edwards aren't taking any PAC money, it would be nice if more joined them

by TarHeel 2007-06-05 08:49AM | 0 recs
Re: I no there are non-corporate

I really think it's irrelevant -- most of the PACs from which they'd be fundraising are labor and law firms -- and all a PAC is anyway (corporate or not) is a collection of individual contributions from employee/members who have given them voluntarily.  Saying you won't take such funds is window-dressing.

by Adam B 2007-06-05 09:37AM | 0 recs
I see PACs

as a way for a wealthy individual two give twice.

once directly, once to the PAC,

by TarHeel 2007-06-05 10:27AM | 0 recs
Re: I see PACs

But if he also controls the PAC and uses it to circumvent the limits, he gets in trouble.  This happened during the RI-SEN primary, IIRC.

by Adam B 2007-06-05 12:17PM | 0 recs
Re: I see PACs

Why would a person have to 'control' the PAC? -- usually there are many PAC's under say a single-issue PAC.

by SandThroughTheEyeGlass 2007-06-05 01:04PM | 0 recs
Re: I see PACs

Because if you don't control where the PAC's money is going, you're not circumventing the contribution limits.

I have no idea what you're suggesting.

by Adam B 2007-06-05 02:58PM | 0 recs
Re: I see PACs

Limits...?

Can't an individual give one political contribution to a the candidate ($2,000) and then give a number of political contributions to a number of PAC's that might actually end up going towards to the same candidate?

http://www.opensecrets.org/basics/law/in dex.asp

Not too up on campaign financing laws... Can you help explain?

by SandThroughTheEyeGlass 2007-06-05 03:23PM | 0 recs
YES

you got what I was saying...

a rich person can give to 50 PACs that all give to one candidate.

In that way a wealthy donor is effectively exceeding the donor limit on an individual to a candidate

by TarHeel 2007-06-05 03:28PM | 0 recs
Re: I see PACs

well, it's now $2,300 per election (primary and general election count as seperate elections) per federal candidate along with what can be given to PACS, national committees, and entities.

by Quinton 2007-06-05 07:00PM | 0 recs
Re: I see PACs

That's correct.  But what I'm saying is that if the individual isn't controlling where the PAC sends its money, he's not really circumventing the limits, and isn't engaging in the kind of corruption-appearance-enabling which the contribution limits are designed to prevent.

by Adam B 2007-06-05 07:31PM | 0 recs
Re: I see PACs

Oh, wasn't disagreeing with you, was just responding to the other person upthead who said it was $2,000. I'm not silly enough to argue with the resident election law expert ;)

by Quinton 2007-06-05 08:32PM | 0 recs
Adam you're not that naive

If I give to the club for growth, will it or will it not go toward helping the Republican candidate for president?

by TarHeel 2007-06-06 04:11AM | 0 recs
Re: Adam you're not that naive

Bad example:  the Club for Growth does almost all its work via a 527, not a PAC; the PAC's limited to $5000/candidate/election, after all.   And they tend to be involved in House/Senate races, not the White House, and so long as the candidates stick with public financing for the general, there's no contribution to be made in the first place.

Still, let's deal with it using a better example: suppose I max-donate $4600 to Jane Democrat for Senate, and also give $5000 to the NARAL Pro-Choice America PAC, knowing they've endorsed her and have given her (or will give her) a max contribution of $10,000.

Again, so what?    

by Adam B 2007-06-06 08:00AM | 0 recs
from the Nation

Penn, who had previously worked in the business world for companies like Texaco and Eli Lilly, brought his corporate ideology to the White House. After moving to Washington he aggressively expanded his polling firm, Penn, Schoen & Berland (PSB). It was said that Penn was the only person who could get Bill Clinton and Bill Gates on the same phone line. Penn's largest client was Microsoft, and he saw no contradiction between working for both the plaintiff and the defense in what was at the time the country's largest antitrust case.

by TarHeel 2007-06-05 06:21AM | 0 recs
Re: Union Leaders Write to Hillary About Her Union

Are the teamsters and Unite-Here laying the ground-work for a reason to shun HRC and endorse Edwards?

by adamterando 2007-06-05 06:40AM | 0 recs
Re: Union Leaders Write to Hillary About Her Union

Let us hope.

by OsoDelMar 2007-06-05 07:34AM | 0 recs
Re: Union Leaders Write to Hillary About Her Union

I imagine they're considering that, but there's a wider context. Whoever the Dem nominee is, there's a good chance they'll be the next president. Whoever that person is, unions aren't going to want a union-buster in her inner circle.

Whatever you think of Clinton, it's hard to deny that it'd be a good for her campaign if Penn took steps to disassociate himself from union-busting. He shouldn't let himself become a story.

by Englishlefty 2007-06-05 08:23AM | 0 recs
If Edwards' campaign

were machiavellian they would probably try to make it a story by asking for him to resign and asking Hillary to give back her corporate PAC contributions

by TarHeel 2007-06-05 08:38AM | 0 recs
Re: If Edwards' campaign

Corporate PAC contributions, no. Refusing those makes you look noble. Demanding everybody else follows suit makes that the story and gives over a couple of news cycles to how you're one of those goddamn dirty commies.

Asking Penn to publically disavow union-busting or resign from Clinton's campaign for the good of her and the party, however, that'd be a neat bit of gamesmanship.

by Englishlefty 2007-06-05 09:13AM | 0 recs
Re: If Edwards' campaign

that is exactly what Obama or Edwards should do .. make it a point to have Penn disavow his union busting

by Calvin Jones and the 13th Apostle 2007-06-05 10:51AM | 0 recs
Re: Union Leaders

Seems like the Unions were looking for the perfect excuse to not endorse Hillary and i think they found something here.

Now, i think it's between Obama and Edwards with Edwards having a better chance to get it, but the Union wont do so until Edwards shows better national polling in his favors.

The Union will not rush to endorse a man thats falling in the polls.

by JaeHood 2007-06-05 08:43AM | 0 recs
Re: Union Leaders

how is it perfect when HRC handed them an excuse on a silver platter?  She did it to herself.

by Calvin Jones and the 13th Apostle 2007-06-05 10:53AM | 0 recs
Re: Union Leaders

>>>>The Union will not rush to endorse a man thats falling in the polls.

Obviously a reason the corporate media focuses on Edwards haircuts and {gasp!} - wealth.

by annefrank 2007-06-05 10:19PM | 0 recs
Amazing how Trade and NAFTA

have not come up in the debates - huh?

by TarHeel 2007-06-05 08:50AM | 0 recs
Re: Amazing how Trade and NAFTA

The debates have been extremely foreign policy focused barely touching on domestic issues at all. If they have a debate that focuses more on domestic issues or Edwards is able to work some of his domestic stuff into answering questions then he'll really kick some ass big time. He'd blow Hillary away on trade.

by Quinton 2007-06-05 09:00AM | 0 recs
Re: Amazing how Trade and NAFTA

Kucinich's only applause line in the debate came when he said that he would cancel NAFTA and the WTO and return to bi-lateral trade agreements.

by adamterando 2007-06-05 09:00AM | 0 recs
Re: Amazing how Trade and NAFTA

There's a lot the debates haven't addressed. See my blog on this very topic on DailyKos.

by Teamsters 2007-06-06 05:36AM | 0 recs
Zzzzz...

Zzzzz...

by BigBoyBlue 2007-06-05 03:09PM | 0 recs
Re: UPDATED: Union Leaders....

by annefrank 2007-06-05 10:20PM | 0 recs
Teamsters and Clintons
Pardon the cross-post here, but because this was the original diary on this topic, I felt the Teamsters side should be heard. The following is a response from Teamsters Communications Director Bret Caldwell to Marc Ambinder:

Mark, I appreciate your reporting of the Hoffa/Raynor letter to Senator Clinton. However, I want to clarify the Teamsters Union's relationships with President Clinton and Senator Clinton. Immediately after winning election in 1998, Jim Hoffa reached out to President Clinton and established a positive and friendly relationship.

Although Hoffa and the Teamsters vehemently opposed President Clinton's trade policies, it was through this relationship that Clinton's trade agreements during his last two years in office began to include greater labor protections and were closer to the fair-trade deals that Hoffa was seeking. In fact, President Clinton spoke at an event honoring Hoffa in New York in October 1999.

The Teamsters Union has had an extrememly close relationship with Senator Clinton since she first announced her intention to seek elective office. Senator Clinton has a very productive relationship with President Hoffa and Teamsters leaders in New York state, including Gary LaBarbera, President of Teamsters Joint Council 16 in New York.

President Clinton and Senator Clinton each spoke at the Teamsters 100th Anniversary celebration in Washington in 2003. And most recently, Senator Clinton met with our General Executive Board in Washington, D.C. - as did Senator Barack Obama and John Edwards.

Your suggestion that the Teamsters are not fans of the Clintons because they "supported Teamster dissident Ron Carey's presidential bid against Hoffa" couldn't be more off base. First, Hoffa was running to oust the corrupt Carey from office in 1996. Carey was thrown out of the union by a government oversight board in 1997 because of a dues-swap scheme in which he used dues monies in order to cheat democracy in the Teamsters Union. Second, Jim Hoffa and the Teamsters believe that President Clinton and Senator Clinton have fought and continue to fight for working people in this country. While Bush and his cronies have moved to eliminate the middle-class, Senator Clinton has been a leader in the fight for a minimum wage increase and the Employee Free Choice Act. There is no room for mistake here, the Teamsters Union and Jim Hoffa have an excellent relationship with each of the Clintons.

As for the real issue at hand, Mark Penn's company has some unsavory clients and has performed some unsavory work. I'm certain that Jim Hoffa and Bruce Raynor with discuss the issue further with Senator Clinton.

Bret Caldwell, Director of Communications
International Brotherhood of Teamsters

by Teamsters 2007-06-06 05:43AM | 0 recs
Zzzzz...

Zzzzz...

by BigBoyBlue 2007-06-06 06:21AM | 0 recs
by palalam 2007-06-15 02:31AM | 0 recs

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