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Senator Hillary Clinton’s top consultant in her campaign for President is also head of the giant public relations company that helped Blackwater USA CEO Erik Prince prepare his lies-filled testimony to Congress this week.
Mark Penn, in addition to advising Clinton in her bid to become President, is the President and CEO of Burson-Marsteller, the giant worldwide public relations firm that helps companies in trouble with the law. Burson-Marsteller worked for Prince in preparing rationalizations for the murder of 17 Iraqi civilians by Blackwater mercenaries in a massacre in Iraq.
Prince’s testimony before Congress this week has been largely discredited by reports prepared for both Congress and the Pentagon.
Clinton rival John Edwards calls Penn’s involvement with Blackwater just the kind of “cronyism” that has marked the scandal-plagued Presidency of George W. Bush.
“Bush has been a perfect example of cronyism because Blackwater has given hundreds of thousands of dollars to Republicans and to President Bush,” Edwards says. “I also saw this morning that Sen. Clinton’s primary adviser, Mark Penn, who is like her Karl Rove — his firm is representing Blackwater.”
Senator Clinton appears to be following in the footsteps of her husband, former President Bill Clinton, who often used advisors with strong ties to corporate interests while claiming independence from special interest groups.
Neither Clinton nor Penn would return phone calls seeking comment but Burson Marsteller spokesman Paul Cordasco issued a prepared statement admitting Burson “helped Blackwater prepare for their recent hearing before Congress” but added “With the hearing over, BKSH’s temporary engagement has ended.”
Congressional sources, however, say Burson has long worked for Blackwater and the company is still registered in Washington as a lobbyist for the firm.
Edwards says Clinton’s use of corporate flaks like Penn proves she is no different than Bush.
“We don’t want to replace a group of corporate Republicans with a group of corporate Democrats. I think it is important for caucus-goers to see this choice,” he says.