"In an unusual mix of investor relations and grassroots political outreach, several corporate giants have sent letters to shareholders asking them to contact members of Congress to support President Bush's proposed dividend tax cut," PR Week writes. "[S]everal large dividend-paying companies, including GM, Citigroup, Southern Company, ChevronTexaco, and Verizon, have sent such letters to shareholders. 'We think this proposal makes good economic sense, and is good for our stockholders and General Motors,' read a recent letter to GM shareholders from president and CEO Rick Wagoner.
"Turkey, which agreed on April 2 to let the U.S. transport supplies through its territory to coalition forces in Iraq, used its large team of American lobbyists to get its message of long-term friendship and strategic importance across to members of Congress," O'Dwyer's PR Daily reports. "The lobbyists were sent into action after some members of Congress, who were upset over Turkey's refusal to let U.S.
When voters elect a Representative they also are frequently launching the education and career of a future corporate lobbyist. Don't pity the retired or (rarely) defeated incumbent because their truly lucrative political career just begins when they join the ranks of millionaire lobbyists. "Dick
Armey, the departing House majority leader, summarized the
situation in his usual succinct style when he was asked on
Friday how much money he would be making in his new job
starting this week at Piper Rudnick, a law firm with a
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."