HRC Colombia ties don’t stop with Penn
By EAMON JAVERS 4/7/08 6:56 PM EST

Mark Penn isn’t the only Hillary Rodham Clinton supporter on the wrong side of the Colombia trade agreement.

The Democratic-leaning advocacy firm the Glover Park Group, former home to Clinton campaign spokesman Howard Wolfson, signed a $40,000 per month contract with the government of Colombia in April of 2007 to promote the very agreement that Clinton now rails against on the presidential campaign trail.

That means Glover Park Group was arguing the same position on the free trade agreement as has Penn, the contentious Clinton strategist and Burson-Marsteller chief executive who lost his campaign job over the weekend after The Wall Street Journal revealed that he’d met with Colombian officials to plot strategy on the pact.

Several other Glover Park employees have deep connections with the Clintons, including founding partner Joe Lockhart, who served as the White House press secretary under President Bill Clinton, and Joel Johnson, who was a senior communications adviser in the Clinton White House.

Six employees of Glover Park Group contributed a total of nearly $20,000 to Clinton’s campaign in 2007, according to data kept by the Center for Responsive Politics.

Wolfson, who is set to take over many responsibilities from the departing Penn, resigned from Glover Park last year to avoid conflicts of interest but retains an equity interest in the firm.

The tangled web of connections on the trade issue inside the Clinton camp illustrates the thin line in Washington between private and political advocacy.

Top campaign aides often spend their off-election years inside large firms with a complex array of clients. The benefit of such arrangements is that a party or candidate’s political brain-trust remains largely intact and ready to assemble quickly for the next political battle.

Republicans have trotted down this path for years. Republican presidential hopeful John McCain’s campaign is led by current and former lobbyists, some of whom are connected to such political boogiemen as subprime lenders.

But it’s a trickier course for Democrats since their candidates often adopt populist themes that can conflict with a corporate client list.

Indeed, the latest Clinton brouhaha is a classic example of that.

The New York senator is using an anti-trade message to win over working class voters in Pennsylvania, a presidential primary most observers believe she must win big on April 22 to stay competitive with Democratic challenger Barack Obama, who also opposes the deal.

“We’ve got to have new trade policies before we have new trade deals,” Clinton said last week. “That includes no trade deal with Colombia while violence against trade unionists continues in that country.”

To avoid tarnishing either candidates or clients, many advisers take on voluntary campaign roles so the two can’t be directly linked. Others seek to distance themselves from their private employers while working in the public arena. And a few, like Penn, try to walk a tightrope by keeping both jobs at the same time.

Over the weekend, Penn tripped. After taking a break from Clinton’s anti-trade campaign to meet with his pro-trade Colombian clients, both parties dropped him.

So, not only Penn, but Wolfson too.

Uh huh.

Now Wolfson DID resign to go to the Clinton campaign (unlike Penn), but still gets PAID by the firm, because of equity in the firm……….this should remind you of someone else…..hint hint…The Evil One ::::cough:::Haliburton::::cough::::

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