John Edwards: Don't Replace Corporate Republicans with Corporate Democrats

Yesterday, John Edwards criticized the corporate nature of the Clinton campaign and why it is the wrong way for Democrats.  John Edwards highlighted Senator Clinton's chief advisor, Mark Penn, as a prime example:

"Bush has been a perfect example of cronyism, because Blackwater has given hundreds of thousands of dollars to Republicans and to President Bush. I also saw this morning that Sen. Clinton's primary adviser, Mark Penn, who is like her Karl Rove - his firm is representing Blackwater. I think it is important for Iowa caucus-goers to understand the choices they have in this election. And it is the reason I continue to say we don't want to replace a group of corporate Republicans with a group of corporate Democrats."

Ben Smith (quoting John Edwards)

Who is Mark Penn, what's the story on Blackwater, and why should any care that Clinton's chief advisor is a union buster?  All around the fold.

First, Mark Penn has sought to clarify his company's role with Blackwater:

Burson says its subsidiary, BKSH & Associates, run by GOP operative Charlie Black, "helped Blackwater prepare for their recent hearing before Congress. With the hearing over, BKSH's temporary engagement has ended."

Ari Berman, The Nation

Okay, so his company's subsidiary prepared Blackwater to testify before Congress.  Hmmm.  And they won't do it again, right?  Not until next time, anyway.  And tell me, why do you need a PR firm to tell the truth to Congress?  

Who is Mark Penn and why is he important?

But perhaps the most important figure in the campaign is her pollster and chief strategist, Mark Penn, a combative workaholic. Penn is not yet a household name, but perhaps he should be. Inside Hillaryland, he has elaborately managed the centrist image Hillary has cultivated in the Senate. The campaign is polling constantly, and Penn's interpretation of the numbers will in large part decide her political direction.

Yet Penn is no ordinary pollster. Beyond his connections to the Clintons, he not only polls for America's biggest companies but also runs one of the world's premier PR agencies.


Morris knew Penn from his days as a pollster in New York and brought him into the White House. Morris decided what to poll and Penn polled it. They immediately pushed Clinton to the right, enacting the now-infamous strategy of "triangulation," which co-opted Republican policies like welfare reform and tax cuts and emphasized small-bore issues that supposedly cut across the ideological divide."They were the ones who said 'Make the '96 election about nothing except V-Chips and school uniforms,'" says a former Clinton adviser. When Morris got caught with a call girl, Penn became the most important adviser in Clinton's second term. "In a White House where polling is virtually a religion," the Washington Post reported in 1996, "Penn is the high priest." He became known as the "most powerful man in Washington you've never heard of."

Spinning Hillary Centrist

The man with the polls tells Hillary what to say and how to say it.  Hiding corporate policies under the pablum of poll-tested platitudes.  PR firms do that every day for corporations.  

Just ask Labor about Mark Penn:

"Learning that Mark Penn was CEO of a company that in fact conducts some of its business busting unions was very, very problematic to the AFL-CIO, as well as to many other unions, and we made that clear" to the Clinton campaign, said Karen Ackerman, AFL-CIO political director. "This is an issue that continues."

Teamsters General President James P. Hoffa said in a statement: "We have expressed our concerns to Sen. Clinton about Mark Penn and his firm's work for anti-union companies. We value Sen. Clinton's commitment to strengthen America's middle class. But as long as Mark Penn continues to profit from his company's involvement with anti-union companies, this issue will not go away."

LA Times

One of labor's bigger irritations with the Clinton campaign has been the role of chief strategist Mark J. Penn, who has remained worldwide president & CEO of Burson-Marsteller, the global public relations and public affairs firm. One of the B-M clients most despised by labor is Cintas Corp., which is the largest uniform supplier in North America and say it clothes 5 million people for work each day.


With Burson-Marsteller's assistance, Cintas has staved off a push to unionize its workforce, and the public relations firm's website at one point boasted of its work in parrying union pressure.

Ben Smith's Blog

You cannot ask Eleazar Torres-Gomez about Burson's work for Cinitas in fighting unionization, a union that would have forced the company to obey safety rules, because he's dead:

Eleazar Torres-Gomez was pronounced dead on the scene after apparently being dragged by a conveyor into an industrial dryer.  Torres-Gomez was trapped in the dryer--which can reportedly reach temperatures of 300 degrees--for at least 20 minutes.

Cincinnati Beacon

A particularly brutal way to die.  And Cinitas had been repeatedly fined by OSHA for the same safety violations that killed Mr. Torres-Gomez.

"Federal safety officials have called for a $2.78 million penalty against the Cintas Corporation, the nation's largest supplier of uniforms, for violations at its Tulsa plant, where a worker died when he was pulled into a large dryer

Representative Phil Hare, Democrat of Illinois, said yesterday, "OSHA's findings prove that Cintas inaction led to the death of Mr. Torres Gomez despite the company's ridiculous allegations that he tried to commit suicide or was too stupid to operate the machinery."

NY Times

Hmm.  Cinitas spin.  It's enough to kill.

Cintas spokeswoman Pamela Lowe said it was Cintas' main public relations agency, doing "a wide range of corporate communications for us."

"I'll tell you that Cintas is pleased with the work that Burson has done," she said.

LA Times

Connect the dots.  Triangulation.  Union Busting.  Blackwater.  Here's another: The Security Industrial State Lobbyists Paying for Future "Access" to Hillary Clinton:

Just days after the sixth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, Hillary Clinton and several Democratic lawmakers will be getting uncomfortably cozy with moneyed interests who have stood to reap billions in post-9/11 homeland security spending, watchdog groups say.

Edwards Campaign Calls Out Clinton for Lobbyist Fundraiser Today (quoting abc news)

No amount of PR can hide the truth.

Mr. Torres-Gomez' son Emmanuel Torres-Gomez testifying before a Congressional committte:

On March 6, 2007, my father was killed while working at a Cintas laundry in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He was reportedly dragged into an industrial dryer by a conveyor belt. This has been devastating for us. In 2005, the Occupational Safety and Health  Administration fined Cintas for not putting guards on a dryer at a laundry in New York. The equipment that was unguarded in that case was similar to the  equipment involved in my father's death. If the company had added the guards, which it knew was required by OSHA, my father would be alive today...

My father's death was preventable.

My Father's Death was Preventable

Please also check out Uniform Justice. Do what you can to help the Teamsters and UniteHere unionize Cinitas and prevent another horrific death like that suffered by Eleazar Torres-Gomez.  

Which side will The Democratic Party be on?  The Side of Money or the Side of The People?

John Edwards is right:

"we don't want to replace a group of corporate Republicans with a group of corporate Democrats."

For some, it may be a matter of life and death.

Tags: Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, Mark Penn, Unions (all tags)



We need

progressive populists.  There is only one in the race: John Edwards.

by TomP 2007-10-06 05:58AM | 0 recs
Thank you for bringing this to light.

I suspect you will get attacked for Clinton supporters on this. They don't like people being truthful about Clinton's real problems. I think it's better that we know now than after it's too late to prevent her from getting the nomination.

by sirius 2007-10-06 06:11AM | 0 recs
Re: Thank you for bringing this to light.

This ain't nothing yet....wait til the GOP gets ahold of her.

While the polls may be reflecting "missing Bill", we have to remember half the country still doesn't like him.  No help there :(

Voters want something to VOTE FOR, otherwise they stay home because they see no difference.

Edwards will get them to the polls and help down ballot as well.

by catchawave 2007-10-06 07:18AM | 0 recs
We need

to demand that Penn's company give the $$$ it got from Blackwater to charity.

It's blood money.

by david mizner 2007-10-06 06:55AM | 0 recs
This guy would not

have a home on the Edwards campaign, much less be his top advisor. Does it get any uglier than this?

Burson-Marsteller is hardly a natural fit for a prominent Democrat. The firm has represented everyone from the Argentine military junta to Union Carbide after the 1984 Bhopal disaster in India, in which thousands were killed when toxic fumes were released by one of its plants, to Royal Dutch Shell, which has been accused of massive human rights violations in Nigeria. B-M pioneered the use of pseudo-grassroots front groups, known as "astroturfing," to wage stealth corporate attacks against environmental and consumer organizations. It set up the National Smokers Alliance on behalf of Philip Morris to fight tobacco regulation in the early 1990s. Its current clients include major players in the finance, pharmaceutical and energy industries. In 2006, with Penn at the helm, the company gave 57 percent of its campaign contributions to Republican candidates.

A host of prominent Republicans fall under Penn's purview. B-M's Washington lobbying arm, BKSH & Associates, is run by Charlie Black, a leading GOP operative who maintains close ties to the White House, including Karl Rove, and was former partners with Lee Atwater, the political consultant who crafted the Willie Horton smear campaign used by George H.W. Bush against Michael Dukakis in 1988. Black regularly disparages the Clintons; he has called Hillary a "martyr figure" and said Bill "tearfully embraced...government preferences for [a] homosexual lifestyle." In recent years Black's clients have included the likes of Iraq's Ahmad Chalabi, the darling of the neocon right in the run-up to the war; Lockheed Martin; and Occidental Petroleum. In the summer of 2005 he landed a contract with the Lincoln Group, the disgraced PR firm that covertly placed US military propaganda in Iraqi news outlets. The agreement, according to Intelligence Online, allowed the Lincoln Group to "tap into BKSH's extensive contacts in the Republican administration." When asked by The New Yorker if there was too much cronyism in Iraq, Black responded, "I just wish I could find the cronies." rman

by david mizner 2007-10-06 06:59AM | 0 recs
Food For Thought

Penn's company pioneered 'astroturfing' eh?  Hmmm...

by Shaun Appleby 2007-10-06 01:02PM | 0 recs
Re: John Edwards: Don't Replace Corporate Republic

You are absolutely right John Edwards is the only progressive populist in the race and the only one qualified to lead our party.

by DoIT 2007-10-06 10:11AM | 0 recs
Re: John Edwards: Don't Replace Corporate Republic

Yes Mr. Trial Lawyer who used to be a centrist who used to be for the Iraq war who decided 3 days before the end of the quarter to take public funding.  We will listen to you. Keep having your wife coming out as the attack do because you don't have the balls to say it yourself. You phoney

by dobied 2007-10-06 10:36AM | 0 recs
Re: John Edwards: Don't Replace Corporate Republic

Hmm. Are you a Hillary troll or a Freeper troll? It's getting so hard to tell the difference these days.

by McSnatherson 2007-10-06 11:23AM | 0 recs
Could just be another version

of areyouready.  So many from Hillary is 44.

Maybe it's Penn?

by TomP 2007-10-06 11:41AM | 0 recs
Re: Could just be another version

TomP you should read the comment rating section again -

by sepulvedaj3 2007-10-06 05:12PM | 0 recs
I suppose that is a threat.


by TomP 2007-10-06 07:40PM | 0 recs
Re: John Edwards: Don't Replace Corporate Republic

He's a Clinton supporter.

by mrobinsong 2007-10-06 07:25PM | 0 recs
Re: John Edwards: Don't Replace Corporate Republic

You say trial lawyer like it's a bad thing. He stood up for regular people who had been wronged by large corporations who didn't give a hoot that their products or conduct was dangerous to their customers, employees, or the general public. How horrible that is. He should have been a corporate lawyer instead!

by Quinton 2007-10-06 03:19PM | 0 recs
Re: John Edwards: Don't Replace Corporate Republic

uprated because of unnecessary 0 rating

by sepulvedaj3 2007-10-06 05:11PM | 0 recs
Couldn't agree more

Another Triangulation Presidency would be a kick in the teeth for the progressive movement.

by McSnatherson 2007-10-06 11:24AM | 0 recs
Re: Couldn't agree more

Hillary has made a lot of questionable friends in her rise to power.  While I believe she does have some good intentions, at some point the puppet strings become so numerous that they begin to choke the puppet.  Her rhetoric suggests that she is so entangled in the puppet strings of triangultion that she is quite literally "spinning" out of control.

by Todd Bennett 2007-10-06 11:38AM | 0 recs
Doesn't work

Johne Edwards worked for a hedge fund.  It doesn't get much more corporate than than. This pitch doesn't ring with sincerity.  

by nascardem 2007-10-06 05:08PM | 0 recs
savage attacks

will only get uglier --

lets see if it actually does something in the polls though.

All of this talk is campaign strategy

by sepulvedaj3 2007-10-06 05:14PM | 0 recs
by liaozhi123 2007-10-15 10:49PM | 0 recs


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