February 15, 2012

Obama Advisor Anita Dunn Teamed Up With “Swift Boat” GOP Consultant For Pro-Hedge Fund Campaign


Obama Advisor Anita Dunn Teamed Up With "Swift Boat" GOP Consultant For Pro-Hedge Fund Campaign
Screen shot from the hedge fund proposal that offers Obama advisor Anita Dunn and GOP consultant Greg Mueller as partners.

At the Republic Report, we’ve covered how President Obama’s former communications director, Anita Dunn, swung through the revolving door and now works for corporate interests, advising lobbying campaigns against many of Obama’s top priorities. Although Dunn is no longer working for the Obama administration, she continues to visit the White House regularly and her firm SKDKnickerbocker is paid to consult for the Democratic National Committee.

We’ve reported on Dunn’s work on behalf of for-profit colleges, food manufacturers, and large multinational corporations seeking a special tax break. Now, it appears she has been seeking work to promote the interests of the hedge fund industry.

Yesterday morning, the Washington Free Beacon revealed a memo from a PR firm called McLean/Clark LLC that describes a campaign sold to hedge fund managers. The memo offered to help launch media attacks against critics of the hedge funds, while providing “political cover” to friends of the industry. With the Obama administration again looking to close special tax loopholes enjoyed by hedge fund managers, the PR campaign appears designed to curb public support for such initiatives.

Perhaps most surprising about the memo — which reportedly garnered “some interest from hedge funds” but no definite contracts — was the inclusion of Anita Dunn as a “paid media” advisor for the campaign. The Washington Free Beacon article highlights the hypocritical nature of Dunn working with hedge fund managers, given her relationship with the Obama administration. But it’s also worth noting that the memo shows that Dunn had planned to partner with GOP operative Greg Mueller.

Though Mueller may not be a household name, his firm CRC Public Relations has been behind some of the most high profile corporate smear campaigns and dishonest electioneering efforts. CRC ran the “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth” tour that sought to distort John Kerry’s war record during the 2004 presidential election. More recently, CRC managed “Conservatives for Patients’ Rights,” a vicious anti-health reform group funded by former hospital executive Rick Scott (who used his experience with Mueller as a springboard to later run for governor of Florida). The anti-health reform campaign included attack ads, organizing at Democratic town halls, and sponsorship of Tea Party events. According to the memo, CRC also consults for Visa, Chevron, Amazon, AT&T, and Microsoft.

What could bring one of Obama’s closest advisors into a partnership with the architect of one of the most bombastic anti-Obama smear campaigns? The pursuit of hedge fund lobbying cash.

View a copy of the hedge fund public relations memo here.

UPDATE: After we repeated some of these allegations in a subsequent post, a spokesperson for SKDK told us that the firm in fact was “never interested in being part of this effort.”  Subsequently, Joe McLean of McLean/Clark declined to comment.  Therefore, other than the pitch document itself, the most relevant information is SKDK’s denial, which implies that McLean/Clark included Dunn in the document without Dunn’s permission. We regret not calling SKDK for comment before repeating the allegation from the Free Beacon.