Mark Penn’s sleaze machine links Clinton to Canada
Yesterday’s coverage of Hillary Clinton tossing her chief strategist, Mark Penn, includes—shock of shocks—a Canadian angle. Penn, acting in his role as CEO of global flacks Burson-Marsteller, was jettisoned for personally servicing a contract with the Colombian government that would help grease the wheels for a pending free trade deal with the States (a deal that Hillary, in an effort to suck up to working-class voters, has repudiated vociferously). Turns out that Burson-Marsteller is the same outfit that contracted with a Canadian company, Spin Master (yes, that’s really their name), to do damage control over a toy they were distributing.
In November 2007, The Atlantic’s Web site reported that:
The bead toys [include an] adhesive coating that too easily turns into the date-rape drug, GHB…. Several children who swallowed Aqua Dots lapsed into comas, promoting a worldwide recall. The company blames manufacturers in China for putting the wrong coating on their products…. An official of the company said that Penn has no role in the Aqua Dots contract. ‘There are over 2,000 clients,’ a company official said. ‘Mark had no contact with them in any way.’
Penn never recused himself for one second as Burson-Marsteller’s head honcho. And the suggestion that he couldn’t influence the firm’s more decidedly sleazy mop-up operations beggars credulity. A call to BM’s exec VP (and former Clinton White House official, natch), Josh Gottheimer, got me his assistant, Jason, who said, “He’s kind of busy today with the Clinton stuff. I’ve never heard of this thing but I’ll try to get back to you.” Thanks, Jay.
Meantime, after the shit hit the fan with the Clintons, the Times reported that “on Saturday, the Colombian government fired Mr. Penn’s firm, saying his efforts to distance himself from them were an insult.” Surely the Canadians were more polite than that. Calls to Spin Master in that regard were not returned.
• Top Clinton Aide Leaving His Post Under Pressure [New York Times]• Senior strategist for Clinton steps down [Daily News]• Lobby for Colombia Trade Pact Casts a Wide Net [New York Times]• Mark Penn’s Firm, Burson Marsteller, Helps Aqua Dots Company [The Atlantic]