U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton's top presidential campaign strategist is Mark Penn, worldwide CEO of the PR firm Burson-Marsteller and president of the polling firm Penn, Schoen and Berland Associates. While the campaign says Penn "is currently working only with Microsoft" for his day job, an internal Burson-Marsteller blog "suggests ... he has been working with multiple clients," reports Bloomberg News. Blog posts by Penn mention work for Shell Oil, the energy company TXU, and the U.S. Tuna Foundation. In one post, Penn says "the mixing of corporate and political work" is "helpful in cross-pollinating new ideas and skills." The Nation notes Burson-Marsteller's astroturf "attacks against environmental and consumer groups," and its "confrontational relationship with organized labor," as well as Penn's polling firm's work for the nuclear power industry (which the Center for Media and Democracy previously reported on). AP reports that Colombia recently hired Burson-Marsteller on a $300,000-per-year contract, to "educate members of the U.S. Congress and other audiences" on "free trade" issues and Plan Colombia, a U.S. backed counter-narcotics program criticized by human rights groups. Colombia will also honor former president Bill Clinton "at a gala event next month in New York City." Her campaign said Hillary will not attend. The Colombian government's links to paramilitary groups led Al Gore to avoid an environmental conference last month that Colombian president Alvaro Uribe attended.
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