Draining the Public Well Dry

Several former employees of the giant public relations firm Fleishman-Hillard say F-H routinely overbilled the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power some $30,000 a month. One described F-H's attitude as, "Get as much as you can because these accounts may dry up tomorrow." Questionable charges include $50 for leaving a phone message and $850 for a two-hour business lunch (not including the cost of the meal). A former executive said that Douglas Dowie (then head of F-H's L.A. office; now a senior vice-president and partner) "made it clear that Fleishman-Hillard's corporate headquarters counted on collecting every penny every month" from its contract with the country's largest public utility.