Saturday, April 05, 2008

Hillary Clinton thinks it's a major issue when a campaign adviser meets with a foreign government about a trade deal. Or she did last month anyway.

Last night, we learned from the Wall Street Journal that Mark Penn met with his client, the Colombian government, to strategize about a trade pact his client, Hillary Clinton, opposes.

Via Ben Smith, we learned that not too long ago, just last month actually, Clinton was pretty clear that a meeting between top campaign adviser and foreign governments should be a major issue:

Peering at the 50 or so reporters packed into a small hotel conference room here, she added: "I would ask you to look at this story and substitute my name for Sen. Obama’s name and see what you would do with this story ... Just ask yourself [what you would do] if some of my advisers had been having private meetings with foreign governments."

Jed thinks the Penn-Colombia meeting "is a pretty remarkable act of hypocrisy" from the Clinton campaign. Jed is right. His latest video shows just how adamant Clinton was that this should be a major controversy:

So, are we dealing with yet another double standard from Hillary Clinton? And, keep in mind, Penn isn't just any campaign adviser. Penn is the ultimate Clinton campaign strategist. (I'm sure the Colombian government would never assume that hiring Mark Penn would get them access to Hillary Clinton. Perish the thought.)

UPDATE: Clinton hasn't fired Mark Penn, but Colombia did. The fallout continues from the meeting Mark Penn had with his client, the Colombian government, to discuss a trade pact that his client, Hillary Clinton, opposes. Although, now, the controversy surrounds the meeting Mark Penn had with his former client, the Colombian government, to discuss a trade pact that his client, Hillary Clinton, opposes.

While Hillary Clinton can't seem to quit Mark Penn, Colombia fired his ass today:

Mr. Penn on Friday apologized for meeting with the Colombians, calling it an “error in judgment.” The Colombian government said his reaction showed a “lack of respect.”

On Saturday, the Colombian government issued the following statement:

The Colombian Government announces its decision to terminate the contract with Burson Marteller. This firm conducts public relations and communications consulting services on behalf of Colombia in the United States for the approval of the Free Trade Agreement and the continuation of Plan Colombia.

Mr. Mark Penn, President and CEO of Burson Marsteller, reponded to claims by Union representatives who questioned his relationship with the Colombian Government by declaring that it was an “error in judgment” to meet with his client the Colombian Ambassador on March 31. The Colombian government considers this a lack of respect to Colombians, and finds this response unacceptable.

The firm was retained by the Colombian Embassy in Washington in March of 2007 based on its track record in the field of Public Relations.

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