O'Dwyer's reports that top PR and lobby firms for the Saudis are dodging subpoenas from the Congressional Committee on Government Reform. Says the O'Dwyer website (now only accessible by subscription, but well worth the fee), "Michael Petruzzello, head of Qorvis Communicatins and Jack Deschauer of Patton Boggs, were not found at their offices or homes by U.S. Marshals, according to The New York Sun. A lawyer for Jamie Gallagher of the Gallagher Group stalled Congressional staffers until too late in the day for agents to serve a subpoena, reports The New York Post.
"Having spent more than $30 million to help elect their allies to Congress, the major drug companies are devising ways to capitalize on their electoral success by securing favorable new legislation and countering the pressure that lawmakers in both parties feel to lower the cost of prescription drugs, industry officials say.
"The Forest Products Industry National Labor Management Committee, a group that says it wants to 'balance economic and environmental concerns' when it comes to managing America's timber, paid Ogilvy PR Worldwide $100,000 during the first-half of this year to make its case in Washington, D.C.," O'Dwyer's PR Daily writes. The group lobbied against EPA regulations on new industrial emissions. "The Committee members include the American Forest & Paper Assn., and forest industry groups in California, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Louisiana and the Rockies. It also counts the International Assn.
Getting caught in a scandal isn't necessarily bad for a public official's career these days. "Many in business - as well as old Washington hands - who have had their names tarnished and reputations sullied have discovered that there is life in the private sector after public disgrace, and a potentially profitable one at that," reports Leslie Wayne. "Many corporations are willing to overlook an ethical lapse or a subpar performance and put those with Washington expertise on their boards, to use them as lobbyists or to make them partners in business deals." For example:
The government of Thailand has hired the lobby firm of Verner, Liipfert, Bernhard, McPherson and Hand to protect its rice crop from U.S. biotechnology researchers. Advocates of biotech foods claim that they will solve world hunger, but farmers in Thailand are afraid that it will do the opposite. Genetically modified Thai jasmine rice threatens to ruin them financially by enabling U.S. rice growers to steal the market for one of the country's primary exports.
Angola's national oil company has hired the Washington D.C. lobby firm Patton Boggs to improve ties with the U.S. government. "Corruption within Angola's $6 billion energy sector is a key irritant between the two countries," O'Dwyer's PR reports. "The U.S. estimates government officials and their cronies skim about $1 billion from Angola's yearly energy revenues." The one-year contract is worth $2.2 millon and will be led by the well connected Tommy Boggs. Last spring, a cease-fire ended the country's 27-year civil war.
Columnist Steve Barnes describes his chat with David Howard, a "very nice young gentleman" who flacks for R.J. Reynolds. The Arkansas state legislature is considering an increase in cigarette excise taxes, and Howard belongs to a "cadre of public relations specialists with the seemingly impossible job of persuading the 75 percent of Arkansans who do not smoke cigarettes that the 25 percent who do should not pay more for their habit."
"For all the talk of corporate scandal, one leading proposal for change -- tightening the rules on stock options -- was brushed aside in Congress this week, thanks in part to a powerful business lobbying coalition that has long fought to protect these rich pay packages. ...
"PricewaterhouseCoopers is providing government relations services to Uzbekistan, the Central Asian country that is a prime ally in President Bush's 'War on Terror,'" O'Dwyer's PR Daily reports. "It is giving 'strategic advice and assistance' to Uzbekistan about dealing with the U.S. Congress, and Executive Branch on economic and trade relations, according to PWC's 'engagement letter.' The firm is receiving $300,000 a-year for its counsel." According to O'Dwyer's, former Republican Congressman and chair of the House Ways and Means committee Bill Archer will be "heading the work."
"Thanks to a loophole in the federal lobbying law, some companies and individuals - especially those pursuing controversial or potentially embarrassing causes - are using coalitions to conceal their identities," writes New York Times reporter Alison Mitchell. Examples of these "stealth coalitions" include the "Section 877 Coalition," which lobbied to help wealthy Americans evade taxes by giving up U.S. citizenship.