More on the Suddenly Disposable (But Still Present) Penn

Mark PennWhen labor leaders complained about Burson-Marsteller's union-busting work, Burson CEO Mark Penn remained as chief strategist for Senator Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign. When Penn blogged that his role in Clinton's campaign was "good for business," it wasn't a problem. But it was a serious "error in judgment" -- according to Clinton campaign manager Maggie Williams -- when Penn met with Colombian government officials as part of his firm's work to promote a free trade agreement between Colombia and the United States. Clinton had previously criticized Senator Barack Obama over reports that his "economic adviser had met with Canadian officials," to assure them that Obama's "campaign rhetoric was harsher than his real beliefs about the North American Free Trade Agreement." Penn was "all but forced out" as Clinton's chief strategist, after news of the Colombia meeting broke. However, Penn and his polling firm "will continue to provide polling and advice to the campaign." According to Marc Ambinder, on April 7, "Penn took part on the campaign's morning message call ... as usual. This afternoon, he is also scheduled to be on a call with Clinton and other aides to begin to prepare for Saturday's presidential debate in Philadelphia." On O'Dwyer's PR Daily, one reader commented, "This is not only a huge black eye for Burson, [but] for all of us in the profession. ... Where are the Council [of Public Relations Firms], Arthur Page [Society, and] PRSA on this?"