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First Colombia, Then Hillary Fires Mark Penn

[See the comments below for updates on Penn’s departure from the Clinton campaign.]

From the Wall Street Journal:

Colombia Terminates PR Contract

By JACKIE CALMES
April 5, 2008

An offended Colombian government canceled its six-figure public-relations contract with the firm of Hillary Clinton’s chief campaign strategist, Mark Penn, calling his response to new political questions in the U.S. about his dual roles “a lack of respect to Colombians.”

The announcement from Colombia’s embassy Saturday morning came a day after The Wall Street Journal reported that Mr. Penn had met last Monday with Colombia’s ambassador to the U.S. to discuss the South American nation’s efforts to secure a balky Congress’s approval of a bilateral free-trade agreement with the U.S.

New York’s Sen. Clinton opposes the U.S.-Colombia pact, and criticism of free trade has been a major issue in her presidential campaign with Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois…

Mr. Penn had been representing Colombia in the trade matter as chief executive of Burson-Marsteller Worldwide, which a year ago got a $300,000 contract to help with communications and public-relations strategy. It was in that capacity, apparently, that he met with the country’s ambassador.

As labor groups expressed outrage at Mr. Penn’s role Friday, with one major union alliance publicly calling for his ouster from the Clinton campaign, Mr. Penn said in a statement that his meeting was “an error in judgement.” U.S. labor groups have noted Colombia’s allegedly poor human-rights record against unionists.

It was that statement that provoked the Colombian government to break its contract. “The Colombian government considers this a lack of respect to Colombians, and finds this response unacceptable,” the embassy said.

“The Colombian Government will continue its efforts to show to different sectors in the United States, the dramatic improvements in the country’s economy, social and security indicators, and will continue its efforts to obtain a favorable vote on the pending Free Trade Agreement with the United States, for greater wellbeing and prosperity for all.”

This is so typical in so many ways.

Not the least of which being that we would have never heard about Mark Penn’s lucrative contract with Colombia if it had not been so loudly rescinded.

Even then, the story only came out on a Friday afternoon and Saturday morning, following the well-established Clinton tradition of news management. (Despite the “radical left” having known about this peculiar arrangement for more than a year.)

Never mind that, as her top pollster, Mark Penn effectively (well, maybe not effectively) runs the Hillary campaign.

And what’s all this talk about “free trade agreements”? We are now told that Mrs. Clinton has always hated NAFTA, despite having been a cheerleader for it in the not too distant past.

Meanwhile, the de facto head of her campaign is lobbying for something Hillary claims to be strongly against?

But of course in the end all of this is conveniently explained away as just an “error in judgment.”

Still, don’t the Democrats seem to have an awful lot of those?

This article was posted by Steve on Saturday, April 5th, 2008. Comments are currently closed.

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