Hillary: The Corporate Candidate


Richard Moore

Original source URL:

Hillary: The Corporate Candidate?
By Ari Berman, TheNation.com
Posted on May 18, 2007, Printed on May 23, 2007

In a packed ballroom in midtown Manhattan, 
Hillary Clinton is addressing hundreds of civil 
rights activists and labor leaders convened by 
the Rev. Al Sharpton for his annual National 
Action Network conference. The junior senator 
from New York starts slowly but picks up steam 
when she hits on the economic anxiety many in the 
room feel. "We're not making progress," she says, 
her sharp Midwestern monotone accented with a bit 
of Southern twang. "Wages are flat." Nods of 
agreement. "This economy is not working!" 
Applause. She's not quite the rhetorical populist 
her husband was on the campaign trail, but she 
can still feel your pain. "Everything has been 
skewed," Clinton says, jabbing her index finger 
for emphasis, "to help the privileged and the 
powerful at the expense of everybody else!"

It's a rousing speech, though ultimately not very 
convincing. If Clinton really wanted to curtail 
the influence of the powerful, she might start 
with the advisers to her own campaign, who 
represent some of the weightiest interests in 
corporate America. Her chief strategist, Mark 
Penn, not only polls for America's biggest 
companies but also runs one of the world's 
premier PR agencies. A bevy of current and former 
Hillary advisers, including her communications 
guru, Howard Wolfson, are linked to a prominent 
lobbying and PR firm -- the Glover Park Group -- 
that has cozied up to the pharmaceutical industry 
and Rupert Murdoch. Her fundraiser in chief, 
Terry McAuliffe, has the priciest Rolodex in 
Washington, luring high-rolling contributors to 
Clinton's campaign. Her husband, since leaving 
the presidency, has made millions giving speeches 
and counsel to investment banks like Goldman 
Sachs and Citigroup. They house, in addition to 
other Wall Street firms, the Clintons' closest 
economic advisers, such as Bob Rubin and Roger 
Altman, whose DC brain trust, the Hamilton 
Project, is Clinton's economic team in waiting. 
Even the liberal in her camp, former deputy chief 
of staff Harold Ickes, has lobbied for the 
telecom and healthcare industries, including a 
for-profit nursing home association indicted in 
Texas for improperly funneling money to disgraced 
former House majority leader Tom DeLay.

"She's got a deeper bench of big money and 
corporate supporters than her competitors," says 
Eli Attie, a former speechwriter to Vice 
President Al Gore. Not only is Hillary more 
reliant on large donations and corporate money 
than her Democratic rivals, but advisers in her 
inner circle are closely affiliated with 
unionbusters, GOP operatives, conservative media 
and other Democratic Party antagonists.

It's not exactly an advertisement for the 
working-class hero, or a picture her campaign 
freely displays. Her lengthy support for the Iraq 
War is Clinton's biggest liability in Democratic 
primary circles. But her ties to corporate 
America say as much, if not more, about what she 
values and cast doubt on her ability and 
willingness to fight for the progressive policies 
she claims to champion. She is "running to help 
and restore the great middle class in our 
country," Wolfson says. So was Bill in 1992. He 
was for "putting people first." Then he entered 
the White House and pushed for NAFTA, signed 
welfare reform, consolidated the airwaves through 
the Telecommunications Act of 1996 (leading to 
Clear Channel's takeover) and cleared the mergers 
of mega-banks. Would the First Lady do any 

Ever since the defeat of healthcare reform, 
Hillary has been a committed incrementalist, 
describing herself as a creature of the 
"moderate, sensible center" whom business admires 
and rewards. During her six years in the Senate, 
she's rarely been out front on difficult economic 
issues. Given her proximity to money and power, 
it's not hard to figure out why she keeps 
controversial figures close to her -- even if 
their work becomes a liability for her campaign.

Polling Czar

After the 1994 election, Democrats had just lost 
both houses of Congress, and President Clinton 
was floundering in the polls. At the urging of 
his wife, he turned to Dick Morris, a friend from 
their time in Arkansas. Morris brought in two 
pollsters from New York, Doug Schoen and his 
partner, Mark Penn, a portly, combative 
workaholic. Morris decided what to poll and Penn 
polled it. They immediately pushed Clinton to the 
right, enacting the now-infamous strategy of 
"triangulation," which co-opted Republican 
policies like welfare reform and tax cuts and 
emphasized small-bore issues that supposedly cut 
across the ideological divide. "They were the 
ones who said, 'Make the '96 election about 
nothing except V-chips and school uniforms,'" 
says a former adviser to Bill. When Morris got 
caught with a call girl, Penn became the most 
important adviser in Clinton's second term. "In a 
White House where polling is virtually a 
religion," the Washington Post reported in 1996, 
"Penn is the high priest."

Penn, who had previously worked in the business 
world for companies like Texaco and Eli Lilly, 
brought his corporate ideology to the White 
House. After moving to Washington he aggressively 
expanded his polling firm, Penn, Schoen & Berland 
(PSB). It was said that Penn was the only person 
who could get Bill Clinton and Bill Gates on the 
same line. Penn's largest client was Microsoft, 
and he saw no contradiction between working for 
both the plaintiff and the defense in what was at 
the time the country's largest antitrust case. A 
variety of controversial clients enlisted PSB. 
The firm defended Procter & Gamble's Olestra from 
charges that the food additive caused anal 
leakage, blamed Texaco's bankruptcy on greedy 
jurors and market-tested genetically modified 
foods for Monsanto. PSB introduced to consulting 
the concept of "inoculation": shielding 
corporations from scandal through clever 
advertising and marketing.

In 2000 Penn became the chief architect of 
Hillary's Senate victory in New York, persuading 
her, in a rerun of '96, to eschew big themes and 
relentlessly focus on poll-tested pothole 
politics, such as suburban transit lines and 
dairy farming upstate. Following that election, 
Penn became a very rich man -- and an even more 
valued commodity in the business world (Hillary 
paid him $1 million for her re-election campaign 
in '06 and $277,000 in the first quarter of this 
year). The massive PR empire WPP Group acquired 
Penn's polling firm for an undisclosed sum in 
2001 and four years later named him worldwide CEO 
of one of its most prized properties, the PR firm 
Burson-Marsteller (B-M).

A key player in the decision to hire Penn was 
Howard Paster, President Clinton's chief lobbyist 
to Capitol Hill and an influential presence 
inside WPP. "Clients of stature come to Mark 
constantly for counsel," says Paster, who 
informally advises Hillary, explaining the hire. 
The press release announcing Penn's promotion 
noted his work "developing and implementing 
deregulation informational programs for the 
electric utilities industry and in the financial 
services sector." The release blithely ignored 
how utility deregulation contributed to the 
California electricity crisis manipulated by 
Enron and the blackout of 2003, which darkened 
much of the Northeast and upper Midwest.

Burson-Marsteller is hardly a natural fit for a 
prominent Democrat. The firm has represented 
everyone from the Argentine military junta to 
Union Carbide after the 1984 Bhopal disaster in 
India, in which thousands were killed when toxic 
fumes were released by one of its plants, to 
Royal Dutch Shell, which has been accused of 
colluding with the Nigerian government in 
committing major human rights violations. B-M 
pioneered the use of pseudo-grassroots front 
groups, known as "astroturfing," to wage stealth 
corporate attacks against environmental and 
consumer groups. It set up the National Smokers 
Alliance on behalf of Philip Morris to fight 
tobacco regulation in the early 1990s. Its 
current clients include major players in the 
finance, pharmaceutical and energy industries. In 
2006, with Penn at the helm, the company gave 57 
percent of its campaign contributions to 
Republican candidates.

A host of prominent Republicans fall under Penn's 
purview. B-M's Washington lobbying arm, BKSH & 
Associates, is run by Charlie Black, a leading 
GOP operative who maintains close ties to the 
White House, including Karl Rove, and was a 
partner with Lee Atwater, the consultant who 
crafted the Willie Horton smear campaign for 
George H.W. Bush in 1988. In recent years Black's 
clients have included the likes of Iraq's Ahmad 
Chalabi, the darling of the neocon right in the 
run-up to the war; Lockheed Martin; and 
Occidental Petroleum. In 2005 he landed a 
contract with the Lincoln Group, the disgraced PR 
firm that covertly placed US military propaganda 
in Iraqi news outlets.

Black is only one cannon in B-M's Republican 
arsenal. Its "grassroots" lobbying branch, Direct 
Impact -- which specializes in corporate-funded 
astroturfing -- is run by Dennis Whitfield, a 
former Reagan Cabinet official, and Dave 
DenHerder, the political director of the 
Bush/Cheney '04 campaign in Ohio. That's not all. 
B-M recently partnered with lobbyist Ed 
Gillespie, the former head of the Republican 
National Committee, in creating the new ad firm 
360Advantage, run by two admen for the 
Bush/Cheney campaigns. Its first project was a 
campaign against "liberal bias" in the media for 
the neoconservative Weekly Standard magazine.

As expected with such a lineup, B-M has a highly 
confrontational relationship with organized 
labor. "Companies cannot be caught unprepared by 
Organized Labor's coordinated campaigns," read 
the "Labor Relations" section of its website, 
describing that branch of the company (the 
section was altered after The American Prospect 
quoted it in March).

Back in 2003, two large unions, UNITE (which 
later merged with the hotel and restaurant union, 
HERE) and the Teamsters, launched a major drive 
to organize 32,000 garment workers and truck 
drivers at Cintas, the country's largest and most 
profitable uniform and laundry supply company (it 
posted $3.4 billion in sales and $327 million in 
profits last year). Its longtime CEO, Richard 
Farmer, was a mega-fundraising "Pioneer" for 
George W. Bush. Cintas was sued for overcharging 
consumers and denying workers overtime pay -- it 
settled both cases out of court -- and was 
ordered by a California superior court to give 
employees $1.4 million for not paying them a 
living wage.

It has also maintained unsafe working conditions 
(an employee in Tulsa died recently when caught 
in a 300-degree dryer) and, according to union 
officials, has used any means necessary to block 
the organizing drive. According to worker 
complaints documented by the unions, management 
fired employees on false grounds, vowed to close 
plants and screened antiunion videos. A plant 
manager in Vista, California, threatened to "kick 
driver-employees with his steel-toed boots," 
according to a complaint UNITE HERE filed with 
the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). To put 
a soft face on its harsh tactics, Cintas hired 
Wade Gates, a top employee in B-M's Dallas 
office, as its chief spokesman. Gates coined 
Cintas's shrewd response to labor: "the right to 
say yes, the freedom to say no," which has been 
repeated endlessly in the press. In a speech at 
USC Law School last year, he outlined Cintas's 
strategy, calling for an "aggressive defense 
against union tactics." Says Ahmer Qadeer, an 
organizer for UNITE HERE, "It's the Burson 
influence that's made Cintas much, much slicker 
than they were."

The unions have won two NLRB rulings against 
Cintas, but for four years the company has 
continued to resist the organizing campaign. Penn 
disclaimed any responsibility for B-M's 
activities before his arrival at the firm, and he 
told The Nation he has "never personally 
participated in any antiunion activity," even 
though B-M's antilabor arm is still operating 
under his tenure. (Penn added a personal note: 
"My father was for many years a union organizer 
in the poultry workers union.")

In 2004 Hillary Clinton asked for an 
investigation into whether Cintas had received 
preferential regulatory treatment from the 
Environmental Protection Agency in return for 
giving large political donations to President 
Bush. Union officials say she's been supportive 
of their organizing drive. She's a co-sponsor of 
the Employee Free Choice Act, which would let 
workers form unions if a majority sign cards 
authorizing representation, thus avoiding 
coercion and intimidation during union election 
campaigns (Cintas bitterly opposes the EFCA). She 
told the International Association of 
Firefighters recently, "I believe that it is 
absolutely essential to the way America works 
that people be given the right to organize and 
bargain collectively."

Hillary apparently sees no contradiction between 
her advocacy and the antiunion work of her chief 
strategist's company. "Clearly not," says 
spokesman Wolfson. "I don't think it reflects on 
her at all. Mark's work away from the campaign is 
Mark's work, and his campaign work is separate 
from that."

Penn recently told the Washington Post, in a 
largely flattering profile, that he'd been 
"cleared of all client responsibilities, except 
for Microsoft, for the duration of the campaign." 
Microsoft is a strange exception, given that it 
was the corporate entity the Clinton 
Administration challenged most directly. 
Moreover, Penn has no plans to take a formal 
leave from B-M. (Because B-M is a subsidiary of 
the WPP Group, a British company, it doesn't have 
to report its CEO's salary or ownership stake in 
the company.) George W. Bush forced Karl Rove to 
sell his direct-mail business in 1999, but don't 
expect a similar move from Hillary. Her campaign 
pays Penn's polling firm, which is part of B-M. 
"Senator Clinton is no different, frankly, from 
Mark's other clients," Howard Paster says. 
"Burson-Marsteller is a lot bigger firm than 
Senator Clinton. There's a whole 'nother life we 

Yet occasionally the work of Penn's company 
spills onto Hillary's political terrain. Penn's 
polling firm has worked with the Clean and Safe 
Energy Coalition -- a PR front group for the 
nuclear power industry -- which purports to show 
"strong support among Americans for nuclear 
energy." Coincidentally, one of B-M's big 
projects is the Indian Point nuclear power plant, 
twenty-four miles north of Manhattan, dubbed by 
environmentalists "Chernobyl on the Hudson." The 
plant received the lowest safety rating from the 
Nuclear Regulatory Commission in 2000, and after 
9/11 there were widespread calls from 
environmentalists, consumer groups and elected 
officials to shut it down. It has had nine 
unplanned shutdowns since 2005.

With the help of B-M, Indian Point's owner, 
Entergy Corporation, struck back with a 
multipronged ad campaign. Its post-9/11 slogan, 
"Safe, secure, vital," emphasized security, 
warning that if Indian Point were closed New York 
could face a California-style energy crisis. In 
2003, after Westchester County legislators passed 
resolutions condemning Indian Point, B-M set up a 
classic astroturf group on Entergy's behalf, the 
Campaign for Affordable Energy, Environmental and 
Economic Justice, which targeted Democratic 
incumbents in low-income sections of Westchester 
who supported closing the plant. If Indian Point 
were shuttered, the bilingual campaign informed 
residents, electricity bills would increase, 
power to public transportation would be 
jeopardized and dirty power plants would go up in 
low-income and minority neighborhoods.

At the same time, B-M unveiled another 
organization also bankrolled by Entergy that 
promoted Indian Point. Following the '06 
elections, Entergy unveiled a new slogan, "Right 
for New York," citing Indian Point as an asset in 
the fight against global warming. Hillary has 
called for an "independent safety assessment" but 
has declined to join Governor Eliot Spitzer and 
twelve members of Congress in urging that the 
plant be shut down. Entergy, founded in Arkansas, 
was a major supporter of Bill Clinton in the 
1990s and contributed generously to Hillary in 
2000 and 2006.

It's difficult to tell where Penn's corporate 
life ends and his political one begins. Most 
Democratic consultants do some business work -- 
it's the easiest way to pay the bills. Yet nobody 
wears as many hats -- and advises as many 
corporations -- as Penn. "Penn and Schoen have 
displayed a thirst for corporate work, often in 
conflict with the policy agendas of their 
political clients, that has long set the bar 
among Democratic pollsters," wrote Democratic 
pollster Mark Blumenthal on his blog recently.

Furthermore, few Democratic consultants so 
consistently and publicly advocate an ideology 
that perfectly complements their corporate 
clients. Every election cycle Penn discovers a 
new group of swing voters -- "soccer moms," 
"wired workers," "office park dads" -- who happen 
to be the key to the election and believe the 
same thing: "Outdated appeals to class grievances 
and attacks upon corporate perfidy only alienate 
new constituencies and ring increasingly hollow," 
Penn has written. Through his longtime 
association with the Democratic Leadership 
Council, Penn has been pushing pro-corporate 
centrism for years. Many of the same companies 
that underwrite the DLC, such as Eli Lilly, AT&T, 
Texaco and Microsoft, also happen to be clients 
of Penn's.

Penn's views often clash with the work of other 
Democratic pollsters. Half a dozen former PSB 
staffers say Penn has stretched to get the 
answers he wanted, including manipulating data, 
phrasing misleading questions and shifting the 
demographics of those polled, whether it was for 
the Clinton campaign in 1996 or a corporate 
client like Procter & Gamble. For example, Penn 
was insistent that Clinton's poll numbers in '96 
match his poll numbers in '92, say two staffers 
who worked at PSB during the campaign. If Clinton 
was underperforming, Penn would artificially add 
more Democratic-aligned groups to the survey 
sample to make Bill look better. "He was a great 
showman, and he'd paint you a nice picture," says 
one former staffer who worked with Penn in the 
late '90s. "But the way he got you the data -- it 
was cooked." Staffers who left started a PSB 
survivors message board documenting what they 
perceived as personally abusive and unethical 
behavior in the workplace.

When presented with these allegations, Penn said, 
"Polling in '96 was 100 percent accurate, to the 
point," adding, "no staffer you could have talked 
to ever attended any meeting with any of the 
clients." He insists that "all weightings and 
question wording turned out to be accurate." 
Former partner Doug Schoen adds, "No data was 
ever manipulated. ... There was never any 
discussion of the polling from 1992 during 1996." 
In response to the complaints on the message 
board, Penn dismissed "a nearly decade-old 
anonymous site with inaccurate material from an 
unhappy few."

Clients have usually been uninterested in Penn's 
methodology because they liked his results. But 
not always. Al Gore fired Penn as his pollster 
before the 2000 Democratic primaries, in part 
because he wanted to move in a more populist 
direction and in part because he didn't trust 
him. Penn "would write polls to get the result he 
felt was important," Tony Coelho, Gore's campaign 
chair, told Rolling Stone. Recently two poll 
interviewees accused the Denver-based field 
office of Penn's firm, PSA Interviewing, of 
conducting misleading telephone polls in 
California and New Hampshire. The interviewers 
read to respondents statements like "John Edwards 
chose not to run for another Senate term because 
he didn't think he could win, abandoning the 
fight in Congress against the administration," 
and "Barack Obama failed to vote in favor of 
abortion rights nine times as a state senator."

Hillary, by contrast, is presented as someone who 
"was born into a middle-class home where she 
learned the value of hard work and frugality." At 
the end of the script the poll asks, "Based on 
what you've heard, who would you choose as the 
Democratic candidate for President: Hillary 
Clinton, John Edwards or Barack Obama?" In 
response to these accusations, Penn said the 
charges were false and that "this firm conducts 
standard political and market research polls ... 
and does not do push polling." He would not 
confirm or deny that the questions above came 
from PSA.

These days Penn's few political clients lean to 
the right. He worked on Joe Lieberman's ill-fated 
presidential run and the Venezuelan recall 
referendum in 2004 and Italian billionaire Silvio 
Berlusconi's unsuccessful re-election campaign 
last year.

Yet despite his outsized role in the corporate 
world, his company's close ties to GOP operatives 
and questions about his polling techniques, Penn 
remains a leading figure in Hillary's campaign, 
pitching the inevitability of her nomination to 
donors and party bigwigs. According to the New 
York Times, "[Hillary] Clinton responds to Penn's 
points with exclamations like, Oh, Mark, what a 
smart thing to say!" His presence means that 
triangulation is alive and well inside the 
campaign and that despite her populist forays, 
Hillary won't stray far from the center or think 
too big. "Penn has a lot of influence on her, no 
doubt about it," says New York political 
consultant Hank Sheinkopf, who worked with Penn 
in '96. "He's not going to let her drift too far 

White House in Exile

Penn's not the only major player in Hillary's 
corporate orbit. There's also the Glover Park 
Group, a fast-rising lobbying and PR firm known 
as the "White House in Exile" because it's packed 
with former Clintonites. Its roster includes 
former Clinton press secretary Joe Lockhart and 
deputy chief of staff Joel Johnson. From 
Hillary's orbit come Peter Kauffman, her former 
press secretary, and Gigi Georges, her New York 
director. Campaign manager Patti Solis Doyle used 
to work there, and until recently so did Howard 

Wolfson, a pugnacious operative who's said he 
admires Karl Rove's skills, took a leave of 
absence in March (unlike Penn), though he still 
has a stake in the firm. Partners at Glover Park 
downplay connections to Hill and Bill, but the 
association -- along with the Democratic takeover 
of Congress -- has been good for business. Glover 
Park was Washington's fastest-growing private 
company in 2005. The day before the 2006 election 
it got a huge infusion of private-equity cash 
from a firm in Chicago, Svoboda, Collins. 
Business has doubled since then. No one at Glover 
Park is now officially part of the Clinton 
campaign, yet there are plenty of unofficial 
relationships. Johnson, for example, is giving to 
and raising money for Hillary. The firm still 
lobbies her office, as it presumably would a 
Clinton II White House.

Glover Park's clients have included standard 
liberal groups like the United Federation of 
Teachers and the ACLU. Yet the Clinton ties have 
also helped the firm make an alliance with Rupert 
Murdoch. Hillary started cozying up to Murdoch 
after her 2000 Senate victory, in a calculated 
attempt to defang his conservative media empire, 
News Corp. In 2004 the billionaire required a 
favor of his own: Nielsen was preparing to change 
the way it measured viewership in US TV markets, 
a plan that Murdoch's Fox network feared would 
cost it millions in ad revenue. So Murdoch called 
on Glover Park. Wolfson secured a $200,000 
contract and unveiled a PR blitz under the guise 
of a supposedly independent minority front group 
called Don't Count Us Out. The group played on 
fears of voter disenfranchisement, arguing that 
minorities would be undercounted in the new 
system. Don't Count Us Out ran more than 100 ads 
in two days, and Nielsen was deluged with hate 
mail. Letters of support came in from 
politicians, including Senator Clinton, who 
warned, "Nielsen would be remiss in pushing 
forward with its rollout plan." The campaign 
eventually fizzled when influential supporters, 
including Jesse Jackson, realized that Glover 
Park's claims were bogus and viewers were simply 
moving from broadcast channels like Fox to cable. 
Yet Murdoch kept Glover Park on retainer and held 
a $60,000 fundraiser for Clinton last July. News 
Corp. executive Peter Chernin is hosting a 
top-dollar shindig for her in LA in late May. 
Asked what she thought of Murdoch, Clinton 
spokesman Phillippe Reines told The New Yorker, 
"Senator Clinton respects him and thinks he's 
smart and effective."

News Corp. wasn't an exception for Glover Park. 
It's used similar tactics on behalf of another 
frequent Democratic bête noire -- the 
pharmaceutical industry. As with Penn, it's been 
difficult to tell where business ends and 
politics begins. In the run-up to passage of the 
Medicare Modernization Act in 2003, Johnson (who 
partnered with disgraced former Tom DeLay 
staffers and associates of Jack Abramoff at his 
previous lobbying job) lobbied for the industry's 
chief arm, the Pharmaceutical Research and 
Manufacturers of America (PhRMA).

Last summer, as the law came under scrutiny from 
both liberals and conservatives, he wrote a memo 
to Hill staffers arguing that "early polls call 
into question the political value in strongly 
attacking the weakness in the Medicare 
prescription drug plan." Johnson failed to note 
that he was on the industry's payroll, as were 
other firms whose work he cited. After the 
election Glover Park inked deals with drugmakers 
Amgen and Pfizer to block a proposal to lower 
drug prices under Medicare and help the latter 
slash 10,000 workers this year and close five 
manufacturing sites.

Glover Park has also been trying to get liberals 
to support a program called Medicare Advantage. 
According to the federally run Medicare Payment 
Advisory Commission, this privately run plan 
overcharges the government by 12 percent compared 
with traditional Medicare. And it paves the way 
for privatization. As a result, Congressmen like 
Pete Stark and Charlie Rangel want to redirect 
some of the money toward children's healthcare. 
That proposal has drawn fierce resistance from 
America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), which 
has recruited Glover Park and another Democratic 
firm, the Dewey Square Group, to argue that 
cutting benefits to Medicare Advantage would 
disproportionately hurt low-income and minority 
enrollees (note a pattern?), a claim the Center 
on Budget and Policy Priorities calls "distorted" 
and "based on misleading use of data."

Nevertheless, former Hillary spokesman Peter 
Kauffman has asked community groups in New York 
to join a Medicare Advantage minority advisory 
committee, which now includes former big-city 
mayors and the NAACP. And Glover Park put out 
polling, in conjunction with a GOP firm and AHIP, 
that shows "record high satisfaction" among 
enrollees, according to Johnson. Hillary was 
supportive of the Medicare Advantage program 
during the debate over Medicare but voted against 
the final bill. She hasn't commented on whether 
she favors preserving the current system.

Murdoch and PhRMA aren't the only odd couples to 
enlist the Clintonites. There's also the 
government of Dubai, which has paid Bill 
handsomely for speeches and strategic advice. 
Around the time of the furor over the proposed 
management of US ports by Dubai Ports World, 
Glover Park launched a lobbying drive to broker 
the sale of two US military plants to the 
government-owned Dubai International Capital. The 
two New York senators led opposition to the ports 
deal but didn't raise objections to the plant 
takeover. According to Newsday, the $100,000 
contract was routed through the LA law firm of 
Raj Tanden, brother of Hillary's top domestic 
policy adviser, Neera Tanden.

Glover Park has also fronted for Verizon to kill 
"net neutrality" and allow telecom companies to 
charge more for certain Internet content, for the 
insurance industry on asbestos claims, for Ernst 
& Young on immunity from shareholder lawsuits and 
for the Swift banking coalition's collaboration 
with the Bush Administration on "antiterror" 
financial records.

Partners at Glover Park say business is business 
-- if their work puts them at odds with fellow 
Democrats, so be it. "On some days you're working 
on the other side of an issue from a Democratic 
Congressman," says Johnson. "The next day you're 
helping them raise money." It's a world Hillary 
knows well.

The Compromised Candidate

It's hard to see how her advisers' corporate work 
doesn't reflect poorly on Clinton's progressive 
claims or create a liability for her with 
Democratic voters. There's no evidence that she 
has taken a position specifically to benefit one 
of her advisers' clients or a top supporter. More 
likely, the ties to corporate America, along with 
the bruises of past defeats, have limited what 
she believes is possible and will fight to 
achieve. "If you surround yourself by people who 
live off of big corporations, that's going to 
affect the advice they give you and your own 
worldview," says a former Clinton adviser.

Clinton has a consistently liberal Senate voting 
record, earning near-perfect scores from 
Americans for Democratic Action. She's fought to 
get New York its fair share of federal money 
after 9/11 and has advocated for long-neglected, 
though politically safe, issues like children's 
health and veterans care. Yet voting records 
capture only so much. Since the healthcare reform 
disaster of 1993-94, she has rarely stuck her 
neck out on contentious issues. "She votes the 
issues that come up, rather than take the 
leadership role," says Joan Claybrook, president 
of Public Citizen. "We tried to do too much, too 
fast twelve years ago," Clinton told the 
Federation of American Hospitals last year, "and 
I still have the scars to show for it." She's now 
the number-one Congressional recipient of 
donations from the healthcare industry.

Clinton's rarely been the threat to the business 
community that many on the right typically 
allege. She's often partnered with Republicans 
like Newt Gingrich and Bill Frist. In 2002 she 
backed a harsh position on welfare reform 
reauthorization that put her at odds even with 
conservative Republicans like Orrin Hatch. She 
persuaded her husband to veto the bankruptcy bill 
in 1997, voted for a similar version in 2001 and 
missed the vote in 2005, when Bill was in the 
hospital. She advocated weakening the 
McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform law, 
telling Feingold to "live in the real world." 
Unlike Edwards and Obama, she accepts campaign 
contributions from lobbyists and corporate PACs. 
"Ask them why they don't take money from 
lobbyists," Wolfson retorts. "We're proud of our 

The conservative caricature that Hillary is to 
the left of her husband is a myth. She, like 
Bill, talks a good game. She's aggressively 
courted organized labor and distanced herself 
from policies like NAFTA. She privately tells 
public-interest groups and liberal commentators 
that she's on their side. At the same time, she's 
premised her presidential campaign on a 
restoration of the Clinton era, frequently 
invoking "Bill and I" on the stump as a way of 
claiming credit for the perceived successes of 
the 1990s. She's expressed no qualms about her 
closest advisers' forays into the corporate 
world. Courting elements of the Democratic base 
while signaling to the corporate right that she 
won't shake up the system is a tricky juggling 
act. Even the First Lady of triangulation may not 
be able to pull it off.

Ari Berman is a contributing writer for The 
Nation and a Ralph Shikes Fellow at the Public 
Concern Foundation. He's currently based in D.C.

© 2007 Independent Media Institute.

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