Major media have been remarkably quiet about the Carlyle Group, "one of the most powerful, well-connected, and secretive companies in the world," which brought together high-powered former politicians including George Bush seniors with Saudi financial moguls and even members of the Bin Laden family. "The Bush administration isn't afraid to mix business and politics, and no other firm embodies that penchant better than the Carlyle Group," reports Red Herring magazine. "Walking that fine line is what Carlyle does best.
In Hong Kong, ex-legislator Gary Cheng Kai-nam has been convicted of corruption after he was caught double-dipping. While acting as a government official, Cheng set up his own PR firm and worked as a paid lobbyist. "It was bad enough that Cheng should have found it proper to set up a public affairs consultancy after becoming a legislator," observes the South China Morning Post.
John D. Graham founded the industry-funded Harvard Center for Risk Analysis that last week issued a whitewash report on mad cow risks in the US. Now Graham has a new government post at the Office of Management and Budget where he is leading the Bush administration's assault on environmental, health and safety regulations. The secret plotting between business lobbyists and Graham has even angered a lobbyist who leaked information to the Washington Post. The documents "provide another glimpse of behind-the-scenes strategy-setting by business lobbyists" such as the U.S.
How will the President of the United States make millions, if not billions, from the war on terrorism? He'll probably inherit it, according to this collection of reports on the Carlyle Group, a secretive $12 billion private equity firm based in Washington that has parlayed a roster of former top-level government officials, largely from the Bush and Reagan administrations, into a moneymaking machine. Its members include prominent world leaders such as George Bush, Sr.
The Northern Alliance is using Otilie English, the sister of Republican Congressman Phil English, to head "Operation Ragtag," a low-rent, high-profile public relations offensive to boost financial and military aid for her clients. The Alliance's marketing team works out of English's crowded apartment.
The U.S. Congress has passed a Republican-drafted stimulus bill, ostensibly designed to speed the recovery from the damage done to an already wobbly economy by the terrorist attacks and the more recent anthrax scare. However, the bill consists mostly of a $70 billion tax cut to corporations, while offering only token support for the unemployed. At latest count, 7 million Americans are without work, the highest number in 4 1/2 years.
Within 48 hours of the attacks on the World Trade Center, airport security companies formed their own trade organization, the Aviation Security Association, retained a former transportation department official to lobby for them, and hired international PR giant Burson-Marsteller. According to the Holmes Report, in the past month, B-M has designed a website for the association, written position papers that were distributed to Capitol Hill, sponsored meetings with congressional staffers, and set up editorial board meetings.
Big tobacco continues to pour money into lobbying Congress according to a story published in the Winston-Salem Journal. "Each day that Congress meets, the nation's four largest cigarette manufacturers spend more than $100,000 pushing their agenda on Capitol Hill." Philip Morris, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp. and Lorillard Tobacco Co. spent $44.2 million lobbying Congress in two and a half years ending June 30, according to reports filed by corporations and lobbying firms with the U.S. House and Senate.
In the wake of the government's multi-billion-dollar bailout of the airline industry, Public Citizen has compiled a report showing how airlines used aggressive lobbying and campaign contributions to turn the Federal Aviation Administration into its accomplice as it fought for years to stall, scale back and ignore specific security recommendations made by a 1996 presidential commission.
"US lawmakers are finally moving the return of the three-martini lunch ... to the front of the national agenda," PR Week reports with considerable satisfaction. "Unsure whether the best way to help their country is to offer pro bono work or to send hefty checks to relief agencies, flacks may put themselves to good use by revisiting their glory days, and by being the first to the trough," it states.