The 9/11 commission obviously had a story to tell about what it had learned about the U.S. government being unprepared on Sept. 11, 2001, to protect the nation from al Qaeda terrorists and about government changes it recommended. But how to make sure it could get its report before the American people, especially those beyond the Beltway?
Simple. Besides making the report available on the Internet, through the Government Printing Office and in stores, hire a PR agency.
With only two communications folks on staff and a pending onslaught of American and foreign reporters demanding reports, interviews and sound bites, the commission turned to Edelman Public Relations Worldwide.
Edelman helped with the rollout of the report last month and is helping organize interviews and events across the country for members of the commission -- normally bipartisan pairs.
"We knew we would be dealing with every public affairs show, every newspaper. . . . We said we wanted our work available to the American people," said commission spokesman Al Felzenberg, who had staffed the panel with Jonathan Stull. "I don't know how we could have done it without" Edelman.
It's actually not unusual for a government agency or commission to hire outside public relations help, particularly with special projects.
The Edelman help is costing about $194,000, Felzenberg said.
Rob Rehr, general manager of the firm's D.C. office, said Edelman discounted its work for the commission and included some services at no charge, including the "strategic thinking" of its senior people, Democrat Leslie Dach and Republican Michael Deaver. Also on the Edelman team for the commission: Craig Brownstein.
Libya Hires a Lobbyist
In perhaps one of the clearest signs that Moammar Gaddafi is coming in from the cold, Libya has hired a lobbyist.
Libya, ruled by Gaddafi for 35 years, has hired Fahmy Hudome International, a two-person shop headed by Randa Fahmy Hudome, former associate deputy secretary of energy in the Bush administration and an aide to Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham when he was a senator from Michigan. Her associate Jennifer Hazelton also worked for then-senator Abraham.
In her foreign agent registration filed with the Justice Department last month, she said her company will provide government relations and strategic advice to help Libya's "short term and long term goals in enhancing U.S.-Libya relations."
The one-year contract calls for compensation of $302,500 a quarter, which with one-time start-up costs will amount to more than $1.47 million.
Hudome did not return a call yesterday seeking comment.
Influence.biz noted that the Libyans have done without a Washington lobbyist for 11 years. But last month, the United States resumed diplomatic relations with Libya following Gaddafi's agreement to give up his nuclear weapons program, taking responsibility for the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 and renouncement of terrorism.
Poor Eritrea Hopes for Better Relations
Also on the foreign agent front, the Alexandra Strategy Group has registered on behalf of Eritrea to help the desperately poor African country "strengthen bilateral relations" with the United States.
According to the one-year contract filed with the Justice Department, Eritrea will pay the lobby shop $26,000 per month, or $312,000 for the year.
Although a hefty price for anyone to pay, it's far less than Eritrea's contract with its former lobbyists at Greenberg Traurig, a couple of years ago, in which the country agreed to pay $50,000 a month.
Focusing on Tax Issues
Ronald L. Platt has left Greenberg Traurig for Buchanan Ingersoll, where he is director of federal government relations.
Platt, an aide to then-Treasury secretary and former senator Lloyd Bentsen (D-Tex.), said he's looking for a Republican lobbyist to join him at Buchanan Ingersoll.
One of the key reasons he made the move, he said, was to focus more on tax issues. Buchanan Ingersoll acquired the tax boutique Silverstein and Mullins a few years ago.
Lisa M. Jaeger, former acting general counsel and deputy general counsel of the Environmental Protection Agency, swings through the revolving door, returning to Bracewell & Patterson, where she is a partner in the government relations, advocacy and strategy section. She was an associate at the law firm before joining the EPA in 2001. Earlier, she was an aide to Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Tex.).
Torod Neptune, most recently director of strategic and crisis communications for the House's chief administrative officers' organization, has opened a D.C. office for Waggener Edstrom, a communications and public affairs company based in Seattle.
Dan Boston, formerly a senior public policy adviser at Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, is joining Monica Tencate at Health Policy Source Inc. Boston earlier worked for the Federation of American Hospitals and the House Energy and Commerce health subcommittee. Tencate was a former Republican staff director of the Senate Finance Committee.
Chicago-based Lipman Hearne Inc., which specializes in the nonprofit sector, has expanded its public affairs practice in Washington with Joelle Ziemian and Jeanne K. Brennan. Ziemian earlier worked at Edelman and Buson Marsteller, on the Hill and at the Department of Energy. Brennan was at the Education Trust.
The Jefferson Consulting Group has formed a PR practice, Jefferson Communications, led by Michelle McWhinney and Amy Talley, both formerly of Lincoln Park Public Relations.