Another Misstep From Clinton Campaign

We know that the Clinton campaign is having trouble paying the bills, but have they stopped paying Mark Penn, forcing him to moonlight. This latest embarrassment for the Clinton campaign has been reported by The Wall Street Journal:

Hillary Clinton’s chief campaign strategist met with Colombia’s ambassador to the U.S. on Monday to discuss a bilateral free-trade agreement, a pact the presidential candidate opposes.

Attendance by the adviser, Mark Penn, was confirmed by two Colombian officials. He wasn’t there in his campaign role, but in his separate job as chief executive of Burson-Marsteller Worldwide, an international communications and lobbying firm. The firm has a contract with the South American nation to promote congressional approval of the trade deal, among other things, according to filings with the Justice Department. (See the related article1.)

Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates, Mr. Penn’s campaign-consulting firm, received more than $10 million in payments from the Clinton campaign as of the end of February, according to federal election filings.

Mr. Penn declined to comment. Howard Wolfson, communications director for Sen. Clinton’s campaign, said in an email that “Mark was not there on behalf of the campaign” and referred further questions to Burson-Marsteller. “Sen. Clinton’s opposition to the trade deal with Colombia is clear,” Mr. Wolfson added.

Marc Ambinder comments:

I’ve asked several Clinton aides and advisers for their reaction. Some declined to comment. Others responded with pejoratives, but since I don’t print anonymous pejoratives as a policy, I will refrain from sharing them.

It’s true that other campaigns have consultants with day jobs. The closest analogy is that of Charlie Black, a senior McCain strategist who resigned from his lobbying/PR firm in order to devote his attention full-time to McCain. (The irony: Black’s firm falls under the umbrella of Penn at Burson Marsteller.)

One of the toughest tasks for a political journalist these days is to try and find someone in Clinton world who is willing to defend Mr. Penn or his sense of political optics.

Incidentally, Penn has said that he has time for only two clients: Clinton and Microsoft. Now, perhaps, he has three.

Obama aides had nothing to say. (Indeed — can you blame them for wanting to allow this story to unfurl without any help?)

Josh Marshall writes:

There are so many reasons why candidates should be paying Mark Penn to stay as far away from their campaigns as possible. But this is yet another. Having your key campaign advisor also be an international man of mystery-cum-PR-lobbyist-cheeseball is fairly problematic. But for Hillary’s sake, when her political future is on the line in a state like Pennsylvania, wracked by the loss of industrial jobs for decades, you think he could have waited a few more weeks before prancing off to help get a new free trade pact passed?

 

Be Sociable, Share!

Leave a comment