Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Firm linked to Clintons may buy agency that defended drugmaker after arthritis drug killed thousands

APCO Worldwide "has long provided public relations services for the Clinton Foundation, free of charge."

1/4/16 UPDATE: US journalists covering the 2016 presidential race are still neglecting to regularly report on the controversial consulting firm Teneo, even though it has deep connections to top Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton (and ties to the Bushes, as I will expand upon in future articles), while it continues to pursue its "worldwide" ambitions. Many US and UK reporters who cover politics and business routinely thank me for providing continual coverage of Teneo, but this story - and its sources - haven't gotten a single link, or even a retweet on Twitter from one US media outlet.

On January 1st, Mark Paul noted at the Irish Times - as I reported on the day it was published - that the UK-based PR Week claimed Teneo was "leading the race" to buy another large public relations firm called Apco, which employs many former US government officials. "It was speculated that the options open to suitors such as Teneo or [China's] BlueFocus include buying the minority stake owned by US bank, WindRiver, or launching a wider bid for majority control by targeting the stakes held by senior staff," Paul observed.

In an analysis called "What Apco Wants", The Holmes Report published an interview on January 3rd with the firm's founder, Margery Kraus, who - as I reported last week - donated to Hillary Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign. "We’re not looking to sell a majority now", Kraus told Arun Sudhaman. "We are simply looking to replace our current outside investors, who are minority investors. If we would ever consider selling a majority in the company, it would have to be an extraordinary opportunity—both in terms of value created and in terms of strategic opportunity for our team."

However, as Sudhaman noted, "[t]he presence of Teneo among APCO’s suitors suggests that a majority sale of the firm cannot be ruled out", and "Teneo itself did not respond to request for comment, but agency sources within the group told the Holmes Report that talks with APCO are ongoing." He added, "Accordingly, Kraus wants a partner that can complement APCO in specific areas, including big data (the firm launched its own offering in 2014), global geopolitical solutions (where APCO’s international advisory council remains a unique, if premium, practice) and digital."

Teneo - a consulting firm that was co-founded by former President Bill Clinton's "body man" and two Hillary Clinton fundraisers, one of whom she appointed as US Economic Adviser to No. Ireland - still has worldwide ambitions, even if the US press continues to ignore them, as the former Secretary of State leads Democratic presidential polls in the 2016 race.

"Global public affairs consultancy APCO is in discussions with potential investors, with a sale or partial sale to Teneo understood to be among the favoured options, PRWeek has learned," John Harrington reported earlier today.
"PRWeek understands that talks have taken place with Teneo, the acquisitive American consultancy, about a potential investment in the business. APCO declined to comment on these talks.

PRWeek also understands BlueFocus - the Chinese agency that has global expansion ambitions of its own, having bought a minority stake in Huntsworth - has also been in discussions with APCO. However, Teneo is thought to be leading the race for the consultancy.
"
Harrington notes that "APCO, which is headquartered in Washington DC and has more than 30 offices worldwide, generated revenue of $118.1m (£79.3m) in 2014, according to PRWeek’s Global Agency Business Report, making it the world’s 18th largest PR network" and "[a] swoop for APCO would be the biggest acquisition yet for Teneo, more than doubling its global headcount to over 1,100 with the addition of more than 600 APCO employees." He adds that "Teneo declined to comment", which is par for the course, since the firm keeps its client list kind of secretive and prefers giving scoops to journalists who leave them out of stories, as I've been reporting.

As her biography states, "Margery Kraus, executive chairman of APCO Worldwide, a global consulting firm headquartered in Washington, D.C., specializes in public affairs, communication and business consulting for major multinationals. Ms. Kraus founded APCO in 1984 and transformed it from a company with one small Washington office to a multinational consulting firm in major cities throughout the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia. In September 2004, Ms. Kraus led a management buy-out of her firm, making APCO one of the largest privately owned communication and public affairs firms in the world."

"Prior to starting APCO, Ms. Kraus assisted in the creation and development of the Close Up Foundation, a multi-million-dollar educational foundation sponsored in part by the United States Congress. Ms. Kraus continues to be involved with the foundation by serving on its board of directors," the APCO bio adds.

Kraus donated $2,300 to the "Hillary Clinton for President" campaign in 2007, but hasn't openly contributed to her in the 2016 race.

A few former Clintonites work at APCO Worldwide, who the consulting firm rely on to maintain "a diplomatic corps for global client needs."

In 2011, as BulldogReporter.com noted, "Mark Medish, former senior staff member of the National Security Council (NSC) during the Clinton administration and Washington veteran, will join APCO Worldwide (www.apcoworldwide.com) to run its executive advisory service Global Political Strategies (GPS). Medish will lead the GPS team of senior former government and corporate officials from around the world who have formed a diplomatic corps for global client needs, particularly as they do business in challenging markets."

"Prior to joining APCO, Medish had a distinguished public service career in national security, financial policy and international development," the 2011 article added. "He served at the White House as special assistant to President Bill Clinton and NSC senior director for Russian, Ukrainian and Eurasian Affairs."

In March of 2013, another APCO press release noted, "Kraus and APCO also are involved in other civic efforts including work for the Clinton Global Initiative and Yunus Social Business, a new initiative of Professor Muhammad Yunus the recipient of the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize, 2009 Presidential Medal of Freedom and 2010 Congressional Gold Medal.

A few months ago, on September 25, a Clinton Global Initiative press release announced, "Global communications consultancy APCO Worldwide is partnering with CGI to support communications at the CGI 2015 Annual Meeting. APCO staff members will be located in the Press Working Room and will be able to help with inquiries and with contacting CGI members." Apco has partnered with CGI many times over the last eight years. ABC NEWS reported in May that it , "has long provided public relations services for the Clinton Foundation, free of charge."
"The 2015 Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting will convene more than 1,000 global leaders in philanthropy, business, government, and civil society on September 26-29 in New York City to define the next decade of commitment-making through “The Future of Impact” theme.

.... Announced participants and attendees include: His Majesty King Abdullah II ibn Al Hussein of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan; Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President, Republic of Liberia; Petro Poroshenko, President of Ukraine; Matteo Renzi, Prime Minister of the Italian Republic; Sir Richard Branson, Founder, Virgin Group and Virgin Unite; Ursula Burns, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Xerox Corporation; John Chambers, Executive Chairman of the Board, Cisco; Bill Gates, Co-chair and Trustee, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Anita Goel, Chairman and CEO, Nanobiosym Diagnostics; Elizabeth Holmes, Founder and CEO, Theranos; Michel Li├Ęs, Group CEO, Swiss Reinsurance Company; Jack Ma, Executive Chairman, Alibaba Group; John McFarlane, Chairman, Barclays; Carolyn Miles, President and CEO, Save the Children; Jacqueline Novogratz, Founder and CEO, Acumen; Art Peck, Chief Executive Officer, Gap Inc.; Paul Polman, Chief Executive Officer, Unilever; Sheikha Lubna bint Khalid Al Qasimi, Minister of Foreign Trade, United Arab Emirates; Megan Smith, Chief Technology Officer of the United States; George Soros, Founder and Chairman, Soros Fund Management and Open Society Foundations; and Jim Yong Kim, President, World Bank Group.

Erin Burnett, anchor, “Erin Burnett OutFront”; Fareed Zakaria, host of CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS” and Washington Post columnist; Becky Quick, co-anchor of CNBC’s “Squawk Box”; Shane Smith, CEO and co-founder of Vice Media; Abderrahim Foukara, Washington, DC Bureau Chief of Al Jazeera; and Gideon Rose, Editor, Foreign Affairs, will moderate special sessions for broadcast or webcast, as well as additional members of the media who will participate in sessions including Tina Brown, Founder and CEO, Tina Brown Live Media; Adam Davidson, Economics Writer, The New York Times; Rana Foroohar, Assistant Managing Editor and Economics Columnist, Global Economic Analyst, TIME, CNN; Yang Lan, Chairman, Sun Media Group and Sun Culture Foundation; Betsy McKay, Atlanta Bureau Chief, The Wall Street Journal; and Max Schorr, Co-Founder and Board Member, GOOD magazine.
"
In July, the firm announced that "Lisa Osborne Ross, a former senior Clinton administration official and 20-year public relations agency veteran, is joining APCO Worldwide as the managing director of its Washington office, effective August 10."

"Ross served in the first and second terms of the Clinton administration, specializing in policy development and issues management," the APCO announcement added. "During this time, she was communications director for the U.S. Department of Labor’s effort to create and promote high-performance workplaces, deputy director of the bipartisan Federal Glass Ceiling Commission and chief of staff for the White House’s Office for Women’s Initiatives and Outreach. Ross also created and directed the Office of Public Liaison at the U.S. Department of Labor under Secretary Alexis Herman."

It also noted other former "senior leaders" who used to work for the US government: "She joins other senior leaders at APCO in Washington, including: Gadi Dechter, head of public affairs and former senior advisor at the White House National Economic Council and National Security Council; Alicia Peterson Clark, deputy managing director for Washington, D.C., and former special assistant to the president under President George W. Bush; Tim Roemer, senior director and former U.S. ambassador to India and member of Congress; Cliff Stearns, executive director and former member of Congress; Melissa Musiker, global chair of APCO’s Food, Consumer Products and Retail practice and former USDA economist; and Marilyn Fancher, chief creative officer at APCO."

According to his APCO Worldwide bio, "During his tenure, Ambassador Roemer was charged with leading one of America’s largest diplomatic missions. Under the leadership of President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, he was responsible for broadening and deepening the US-India partnership. He oversaw the implementation of several key policies and initiatives, including increasing cooperation, technology transfer and commercial sales in the defense and space industries; signing the Counterterrorism Cooperation Initiative to further expand cooperation in areas such as intelligence and homeland security, border security, money laundering and terrorist financing; and working with the United States to assist India on its Global Center for Nuclear Energy Partnership. He also emphasized commerce and exports, helping move India from America’s 25th-largest trading partner to 12th.

On April 28, Jonathan Allen noted at Vox that APCO has contributed between $25,000 and $50,000 to the Clinton Foundation.

In 2007, the Holmes Report noted, "Linda Distlerath, a leading health policy expert and former vice president of global health policy, at Merck & Co., has joined APCO Worldwide as a senior vice president."

In an April 11, 2010 Bloomberg News article, Sarah Rabil reported, "APCO Worldwide, the public relations firm that advised Hewlett-Packard Co.’s board after accusations of harassment against its chief executive officer, has handled crises from Merck & Co.’s Vioxx scandal to WorldCom Inc.’s fraud and now is helping Wall Street earn back America’s trust.

"Kent Jarrell, a senior vice president at APCO and director of the litigation communication practice, worked on public relations during Merck’s Vioxx painkiller lawsuits after a study found the drug doubled the risk of heart attacks and strokes," Rabil's story continued. "He also worked with Ford Motor Co. when Explorers with Firestone tires were blamed for fatal crashes, and Alaska Air Group Inc.’s Alaska Airlines after a flight crashed in January 2000."

DrugWatch.com notes, "Initially hailed as a superior non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), Vioxx spent only a few years on the market before it was the focus of thousands of consumer lawsuits. Within five years of being approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of arthritis and menstrual pain, the painkiller was linked to thousands of heart attacks, strokes and deaths. At the same time, the drug’s manufacturer, Merck, vehemently denied any problems."

"Within weeks of the Vioxx recall, injured patients across the nation were seeking justice in court. Up to 38,000 people died from heart attacks or strokes after taking Vioxx, with a total of about 160,000 patients injured," the DrugWatch dispatch - which was last modified in May of 2014 - added. "While some of the victims had had ongoing heart problems, many more did not."
"At the same time, Merck was continually trying to deflect major criminal charges related to its shady marketing and sales tactics and allegations of mismanagement. A U.S. Senate Finance Committee hearing investigated the drug company’s cozy ties with the FDA, questioned the company’s $195 million direct-to-consumer marketing plan and looked into possible Medicaid and Medicare fraud. Today, Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, continues to question Merck’s relationship with the FDA, charging the FDA and Merck collaborated to hide the Vioxx side effects.

Although Merck agreed to pay $950 million and plead guilty to a federal misdemeanor related to its marketing practices, many were outraged by the settlement because the company still gleaned billions of dollars in Vioxx profits and was hardly reprimanded for the related deaths. The company did pay a $321 million criminal fine, $426 million to the federal government and $202 million to 48 states and the District of Columbia to settle civil claims that Merck’s illegal marketing influenced doctors to prescribe a drug they would not have otherwise prescribed.
"
In May of 2009, The Guardian reported, "Private lobbying by an American pharmaceutical company saw government ministers back down from supporting British people who claim one of its failed drugs caused them heart attacks and strokes."
"A minister promised in parliament that the government would back their campaign against Merck, one of the world's largest drugs firms. But Whitehall documents obtained by the Guardian reveal Merck immediately put pressure on the minister and helped persuade the government to withdraw its support.

Merck is refusing to compensate hundreds of Britons who say their health was damaged even though the multinational has paid out more than £2bn to 44,000 people in America.
"
The Guardian claimed, "Merck launched a campaign to head off government support for the alleged victims, with the help of a lobbying firm, APCO, according to official briefing notes."

"Kent Jarrell, executive director, leads APCO’s Washington, D.C.-based crisis management and litigation communications practice,"according to his APCP bio. "He advises CEOs, general counsels and boards of directors on the preparation for unfolding material events."

The APCO bio adds, "He continues to serve as an outside global manager for Merck’s communication efforts on the Vioxx litigation."

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Former State Secretary Hillary Clinton touted consultant as 'good friend' during Hong Kong speech

12/19 UPDATE: 3 years after Hillary Clinton shout-out, Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (CPAFFC) held luncheon for Teneo Strategy Managing Director Nancy Bowen

On July 25, 2011, while serving as Secretary of State, top 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton gave a shout-out to her "good friend" during a speech in Hong Kong about how the United States could "intensify" its "economic partnership" with the Asia-Pacific region. That "good friend" worked for former President Bill Clinton in the White House, then for the Clinton Global Initiative, owned a Hong Kong based consulting firm, was later hired by Teneo - a firm co-founded by two of her fundraisers and her husband's former "body man" - and donated $6,900 to her unsuccessful 2008 presidential campaign.

The Free Beacon recently reported that during the former NY Democratic Senator's tenure at the State Department, Hillary Clinton sometimes asked "underlings and staffers" to "pls print" up "lists of expensive China patterns, restaurants, and shopping destinations overseas".
"'Sorry for the delay in getting a shopping list together. It has been a busy week. Do you have an advance person here? Do you need me to make any arrangements for you? I know many of the shop owners/designers I am recommending (but not all of them.),' Nancy Hernreich Bowen said in an email to top Clinton aide Huma Abedin, the beleaguered wife of Anthony Weiner, in an email subject-lined, 'Hong Kong shopping.'

Bowen works for Teneo Holdings, a company tied to the Clintons and former White House counsel Doug Band. Abedin drew a $355,000 salary from Teneo while she was working at the State Department. A department inspector general report found that she had been overpaid by thousands of taxpayer dollars, findings that are now being reviewed.
"
However, aside from the fact that Free Beacon is one of many numerous media outlets that continue to misreport how much Abedin was paid by Teneo (which I'll address in a future story), Bowen wasn't hired by Teneo until February of 2012, nine months after Huma Abedin forwarded Clinton the email.

On May 15, 2012, Teneo announced in a press release, "Teneo today expanded its presence in Asia with the opening of a new office in Hong Kong. To lead Teneo’s Hong Kong office, Nancy Hernreich Bowen joined Teneo Strategy as a Managing Director."

"Ms. Bowen has lived and worked in Asia for over eleven years," the press release state. "Most recently, she served as a senior advisor for McLarty Associates and managing director of NHB International, a Hong Kong based consulting firm which she founded in 2001. In this role, she utilized her experience, knowledge of Asia and senior level U.S. and Asian business and government relationships to assist Asian and American businesses with their cross border business interests. She has assisted clients with Asia and U.S. trade strategy, relationship-building, issues and crisis management and public relations."

The press release added, "As managing director of the Clinton Global Initiative Asia from September 2007 to December 2008, Ms. Bowen was responsible for the planning and execution of the event, which included more than 400 of the most influential Asian business, government and civil society leaders held in December 2008. Prior to that, she was assistant to the president and director of Oval Office operations from 1993 to 2001. Her responsibilities in the White House included: managing the president’s office, where she oversaw communications at all levels with the president; directing access to the president; maintaining his priorities and schedule; and, as his longest serving senior aide, advising him on a range of issues and presidential matters."

At LinkedIn, Nancy Hernreich Bowen's resume notes that she began working for Teneo in February of 2012. Former President Bill Clinton consulted for Teneo in 2011 and Huma Abedin was secretly hired - while still working at the State Department - by the consulting firm in July of 2012.

On August 15, 2005, Brown was a guest lecturer at the Asia Institute for Political Economy where she spoke about "The Role of the Executive in the US Government" (pdf link). Her biography contains some of the same wording Teneo used in its press release.

"Ms. Nancy Hernreich-Bowen served as Assistant to the President and Director of Oval Office Operations at the White House, helping to manage the President's day to day dealings with the Cabinet, Congress, foreign officials and business leaders. Working with the Chief of Staff, National Security Advisor, Cabinet Secretaries as well as heads of state and CEOs, Ms. Hernreich-Bowen represented the President's interests in the planning and execution of policy initiatives and responses to international events.

Ms. Hernreich-Bowen, who traveled extensively in Asia, Europe and Latin America as a member of official presidential delegations, is now Managing Director of NHB International, a Hong Kong-based consulting firm. She assists international companies with investment, business development, product sourcing and market access needs, building on her extensive experience coordinating policy, private sector and presidential priorities and supporting trade missions, economic summits and international meetings through Asia. Ms. Hernreich-Bowen represents Kissinger McLarty Associates in Hong Kong and assists clients with interests in the Asia-Pacific region.
"
Just like most Teneo consultants, it's extremely difficult to find out exactly what clients Bowen represents and how she uses her U.S. government connections to help them. Due to that secrecy, it's nearly impossible to find out if there were any conflicts of interest with the State Department during Clinton's tenure as Secretary of State, and - as I've reported - many journalists use Teneo analysts as sources or don't mention the firm when they report on some of its known clients.

"Btw, this is an impressive list!" future Hillary Clinton presidential chair Huma Abedin told her boss when she forwarded the July 20, 2011 email from Bowen on July 25, the day of the Hong Kong speech (pdf link). And Bowen offered to call ahead and make arrangements with some of the jewelry merchants she was recommending to Clinton.

Bowen added, "Let me know what else you might be interested in shopping for and I'll make additional suggestions. See you Monday and do let me know if there is anything else I can do for you."

During her Hong Kong speech, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton noted that "it was made possible by the U.S., Hong Kong, and Macau chambers of commerce and the Asia Society. And I thank the chamber very much on a personal level for its support of the U.S. Pavilion at the Shanghai Expo. I have been called the mother of the pavilion, which is actually one of the nicer things I’ve been called – (laughter) – during my very long public career."

"Hong Kong stood out then, as it does today, as a symbol of the open exchange of goods and ideas," Clinton added. "People were drawn to this place from every part of the world, even far away Arkansas, as evidenced by a good friend of ours from Arkansas, Nancy Hernreich Bowen, who is here with us today."

Clinton said she came to Hong Kong "to talk about how the nations of this region and the United States can intensify our economic partnership on behalf of ourselves, each other, and the world, and how together we can work toward a future of prosperity and opportunity for people everywhere."

Bowen also works as an "expert" for ChinaGoAbroad, and her biography at their website also continues similar wording to her Teneo biography, touting her US government connections.
"Nancy Hernreich Bowen is currently the Managing Director for Asia with Teneo Strategy, an integrated global advisory firm that provides consulting, investment banking, business intelligence and restructuring capabilities at the Chairman and CEO level across a broad range of industries and sectors. She served as Managing Director for the Clinton Global Initiative Asia from 2007 to 2008, and has lived and worked in Asia since 2001 in her capacity as founder and Managing Director of her own firm, NHBI, and as a Senior Advisor to McLarty Associates. Prior to her time in Asia, she served as an Assistant to the President and Director of Oval Office Operations in the Clinton White House.

In her current role, Ms. Bowen oversees Teneo’s activities in Asia, bringing decades of experience and relationships in business and politics to support companies throughout the region. Specific expertise include, but are not limited to, public affairs, government affairs, crisis management and communications, market entry and development, identification and due diligence of joint venture partners and investment opportunities, as well as problem solving across a broad range of complex markets.

As Managing Director of the Clinton Global Initiative Asia from September 2007 to December 2008, Ms. Bowen was responsible for the planning and execution of a two day event that brought together over 400 of the most influential Asian leaders across business, government and civil society. The CGI Asia Hong Kong meeting was the first CGI meeting held outside of the United States and provided these leaders with an opportunity to discuss important global issues and to make personal, actionable commitments to help solve challenges in the areas of education, health, climate change and energy.

As Assistant to the President and Director of Oval Office Operations from 1993-2001, Ms. Bowen designed and implemented the systems that enabled the White House staff, Cabinet Secretaries and other parties to interact with the President. While overseeing the President’s contact with Congressional leaders and other elected officials, corporate leaders and foreign officials, Ms. Bowen had frequent direct contact with parties at the highest levels. She also traveled extensively with the president to countries throughout Asia, Europe and Latin America.

Within the White House, Ms. Bowen coordinated daily with the White House Chief of Staff, the National Security Advisor and Cabinet Secretaries. In this capacity, she represented the President's interests in the planning and execution of his priorities. As the President’s longest serving senior aide, one of her key roles was to manage the competing demands for the President's time and attention, and to make decisions that had positive policy and public relations ramifications. She managed an extensive staff in the White House and was responsible for the budget of her office. In her capacity as advisor to the President, Mrs. Bowen was required to be well versed in domestic and foreign issues, exercised impeccable judgment and maintained absolute discretion and utmost diplomacy.

Prior to joining the White House, Ms. Bowen was the Director of Scheduling for Governor Clinton from 1985 to 1993. She currently serves on the boards of several non-profit organizations.
"
According to a ChinaGoAbroad press release, "On 23 July 2015, the Reignwood Group and Sinopec Engineering Group signed an MOU in Beijing for the joint development of a huge new industrial park in East Kalimantan, Indonesia. The park will house coal chemical plants, steel mills, shipyards and ports. Total investment for the project is expected to range between US$ 18-20bn."

"ChinaGoAbroad and TransAsia Lawyers are honored to have been appointed to provide strategic transactional advice and legal services, respectively, to the Chairman of the Reignwood Group," the press release added.

On April 16, 2013, a press release announced, "Lockheed Martin [NYSE: LMT] has announced that it is working with Reignwood Group to develop an Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) pilot power plant off the coast of southern China. A memorandum of agreement between the two companies was signed in Beijing on Saturday. Following the ceremony, both companies met with United States Secretary of State John Kerry during his first official state visit to the People’s Republic of China."

"The 10-megawatt offshore plant, to be designed by Lockheed Martin, will be the largest OTEC project developed to date, supplying 100 percent of the power needed for a green resort to be built by Reignwood Group," the press release continued. "In addition, the agreement could lay the foundation for the development of several additional OTEC power plants ranging in size from 10 to 100 megawatts, for a potential multi-billion dollar value."

It added, "In addition to several other green energy-related projects across a variety of industries, Reignwood Group is currently developing two large scale low-carbon resort communities, with others planned in key locations in China. Using Lockheed Martin’s OTEC technology to power a new resort will help the company to develop its first net-zero community."

According to a Reuters article published today, "China summoned the U.S. charge d'affaires in Beijing to protest against the U.S. administration's authorization of $1.83 billion arms sales to Taiwan and said it would impose sanctions on the firms involved, China's state news agency Xinhua reported."

"Vice Foreign Minister Zheng Zeguang, who summoned U.S. charge Kaye Lee", Reuters reported via Xinhau, "described the U.S. sales authorization announced on Wednesday as going against international law and basic norms of international relations and said that they 'severely' harmed China's sovereignty and security. 'To safeguard our national interests, China has decided to take necessary measures, including imposing sanctions against the companies involved in the arms sale,' Zheng said."

As Reuters noted, "Raytheon RTN.N and Lockheed Martin were the main contractors for weapons in the sales authorized on Wednesday," but it's "not clear what impact Chinese actions might have on the firms. In 2013, Lockheed Martin signed an agreement with the Thailand-based Reignwood Group to build a 10-megawatt offshore plant to provide energy for a new luxury resort on Hainan island in southern China."

According to FEC filings, on May 7, 2015, Nancy HernReich Bowen donated $2,700 to "Hillary For America". On June 5, 2007 Bowen contributed $4,600, in total, to "Hillary Clinton for President" for the general and primary elections. And on August 8, 2008, Bowen gave $2,300 to "Friends of Hillary."

12/19 UPDATE

Three years after former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton singled out her longtime friend - who used to work in the Clinton White House and Clinton Global Initiative before becoming a Hong Kong based consultant to unknown clients, and has donated nearly $10,000 to the leading Democratic presidential candidate's campaigns - in a Hong Kong speech promoting economic relations with East Asia, China's official Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (CPAFFC) held a luncheon for the Teneo Strategy Managing Director.

At its website, a picture sourced to the foreign ministry's Department of American and Oceanian Affairs, shows the beaming Teneo Strategy Managing Director Nancy Hernreich Bowen posing with CPAFFC's president, two other executives and an unidentified person (who may be Teneo CEO Declan Kelly - the former US Economic Advisor to No. Ireland who was appointed by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, after raising millions for her unsuccessful 2008 presidential campaign).

"President Li Xiaoling met with and held a luncheon for Ms. Nancy Hernreich Bowen, Managing Directer, Teneo Strategy (Asia) on 10th February in Beijing," CPAFFC's website announced in 2014. "President Li briefed Ms. Bowen on the work of people-to-people diplomacy CPAFFC carried out with the United States over the past years, noting that the strengthening of people-to-people exchange between our two nations can play a critical role in helping build a new type of major country relationship between China and the USA."

The website added, "Ms. Bowen expressed thanks to President Li for taking time out of her busy schedule to meet with her, and she said that the closer economic and trade cooperation is conducive to the overall development of China-US relations, she was willing to provide necessary assistance. Vice President Xie Yuan attended the above-mentioned activities."

Three months later, according to the CPAFFC website, "The Sixth China-US Relations Conference, hosted by the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries and Texas A&M University, co-hosted by Peking University Health Science Center and the Texas Medical Center was held from May 11 to 13 in Houston, Texas, United States."

"The participants include Mr. Xu Kuangdi, vice chairman of the 10th National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and president of China-US People’s Association, Chinese Ambassador Cui Tiankai to the U.S., President Li Xiaolin of CPAFFC, Vice Minister Liu Qian of the National Health and Family Planning Commission, Neil Bush, third son of former U.S. President George H.W.Bush and president of the Points of Light Foundation, President Michael Young of Texas A&M University, Mayor Annise Parker of Houston, Thomas Frieden, Director of U.S. Centers for Disease Control. U.S. President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Bidden sent congratulatory messages respectively to the conference," the website added.
"U.S. President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Bidden sent congratulatory messages respectively to the conference. President Obama said 'The world we live in today is a community of nations. The United States and China are dedicated to realizing a future that shines with the health of all people---one we will only reach by working together. In addressing global health challenges, America and China have a common interest of historic consequence. Together, America and China can rise to the challenges of our changing world and meet our moral obligations.' Vice President Bidden said that the cooperation between U.S. and China on global issues like infectious diseases are doing the ground work for US-China relations, and will benefit all people.

Xu Kuangdi delivered a keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the conference. He spoke highly of the great impact that the past five China-US Relations Conferences have made and highly commended President George H.W. Bush’s consistent efforts and contribution to the development of China-US relations and the growth of China-US friendship, as well as Neil Bush’s efforts in carrying on this conference forward. He also praised the great efforts that the hosting organizations---the CPAFFC and Texas A&M University have done. He pointed out that in the 21st century, the world is faced with increasing nonconventional security and global challenges. It is crucial for China and the U.S. to work together in combating the common challenges, which is pivotal for peace and progress of mankind.

...

During the conference, over 400 government officials, experts and business leaders attended the conference and held in-depth discussion on national preparedness of public health, emergence response, prevention and control of infectious diseases like Ebola, and the role of private sector in the global health response system. They also brought up constructive proposals on the future cooperation of China and the U.S. in relevant fields.

Before the conference opens, Xu Kuangdi, Li Xiaolin, Cui Tiankai and Li Qiangmin paid a visit to President George H.W. Bush and Mrs. Barbara Bush at Neil Bush’s home in Houston.
"
Four months before her Hong Kong speech, on March 11, 2011, the U.S. State Department's DIPNOTE blog noted that "From February 25-28, Hunan Province Party Secretary Zhou Qiang visited Washington, DC to attend the National Governors Association (NGA) Winter Meeting. Secretary Zhou's visit is the first by a Chinese provincial leader under a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed by Secretary Hillary Clinton and Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi in January concerning the establishment of a U.S.-China Governors Forum to promote subnational cooperation. The forum will serve as a platform to promote peer-to-peer exchanges between U.S. state governors and Chinese provincial party secretaries and governors and will be co-convened by the NGA and the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (CPAFFC), the NGA's counterpart in China."

"Secretary Clinton greeted Party Secretary Zhou and CPAFFC Vice President Madam Li Xiaolin at the U.S. Department of State and expressed her continuing support for the subnational effort," DIPNOTE blog continued. "Party Secretary Zhou and Madam Li also met with Under Secretary for Economic, Energy, and Agricultural Affairs Robert Hormats, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary Daniel Kritenbrink, and National Security Council Senior Director for Asian Affairs Jeff Bader."

It added, "During the NGA meeting, two other accords were signed, one between the NGA and the CPAFFC formally establishing the U.S.-China Governors Forum and the other between Hunan Province and the State of Delaware to increase business exchanges and investment promotion. With the agreement, Governor Markell hopes to increase jobs and opportunities for the citizens of Delaware by increasing exports and attracting investment from international employers."

Monday, December 7, 2015

Teneo handpicking media for FIFA briefer raised a 'fuss', journo complains

On the evening before more arrests were made in the ongoing investigation of alleged corruption by FIFA officials, a controversial firm co-founded by former President Bill Clinton's "body man" and two Hillary Clinton fundraisers - including CEO Declan Kelly, who was appointed US Economic Envoy to No. Ireland by the former Secretary of State now leading Democratic polls as she runs for president again - was accused of handpicking media for a press conference. As I exclusively reported on July 16, Teneo was paid $75,000 for fundraising to lobby FIFA officials with "Honorary Chairman William Clinton" by the USA Bid Committee which lost to Qatar the rights to host the 2022 World Cup.

"Honduran Alfredo Hawit, acting president of CONCACAF, and Paraguay’s Juan Angel Napout, president of CONMEBOL – the two confederations that provide the 16 nations who compete in the Copa America – were picked up in dawn raids at the Baur au Lac Hotel in Zurich by Swiss police acting on instructions from the US Department of Justice," UK journalist Charles Sale reported for the Daily Mail on December 4.

The Wednesday evening press conference seemed to center on plans to increase the World Cup field to 40 nations and, perhaps, the news that another firm had secured television rights to another soccer tournament. The timing before the arrests appears to be somewhat convenient, since Teneo has many former US government employees working for it, and Attorney General Loretta Lynch launched the FIFA probe when she began her second term as a U.S. Attorney in Brooklyn in 2010, after being nominated by former Bill Clinton in 1999. As Sari Horwitz reported for The Washington Post on May 27, "In November 2010, former president Bill Clinton and then-Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. traveled to Zurich to lobby soccer’s world governing body in support of the U.S. bid to host the 2022 World Cup."

"Sports marketing giants IMG have embarrassingly received plaudits for winning TV rights to the 2016 Copa America tournament from the two FIFA chiefs arrested on Thursday on suspicion of accepting millions of dollars in bribes," Sale reported last Thursday.

Later, in the same story, Sale complained, "PR firm Teneo, who represent the American lawyers now effectively running FIFA, helped perpetuate the divisive atmosphere in Zurich by inviting a few handpicked media to a briefing with acting secretary general Markus Kattner the night before Thursday's press conference. A FIFA spokesman said it was common practice for such briefings to take place with a variety of media."

"There was a fuss," Sale told me on Saturday. When he asked me what would be the motive for Teneo "handpicking" media, I told him that I have been reporting on how journalists use the firm as sources for their stories, without mentioning its ties to the Clintons, and ducking questions related to longtime Hillary Clinton aide - and vice chair of her presidential campaign - Huma Abedin's controversial stint there from 2012 to 2013, while still working for the State Department.

In my September 16 article, "Controversial firm linked to Clintons handles press for $17.7 billion Cablevision deal," I reported, "The New York Times appears to have published a 'scoop' they received from a public relations firm tied to the top presidential candidate - but omitted mentioning either in their article - just to get an exclusive a few hours early. And since it's related to the creation of what will be the '#4 cable operator in the US market', which affects millions of US voters, this omission of news might be disturbing to watchdogs. Teneo sometimes gets paid hundreds of thousands of dollars a month by clients, and both entities inherently have common ground to make each other look good to the public.
"Teneo is a senior-led advisory firm with deep collective experience working at the highest echelons of the public and private sectors," the Teneo Holdings website states. "Our team has a rich knowledge base and global network of relationships that we bring to bear on behalf of our clients every day."

If that "global network of relationships" includes New York Times reporters, then - in a sense - this rapidly growing international firm, which has been criticized for using government connections across the world to woo clients and accused of milking those links, controls the media on multiple levels. Teneo is especially secretive about their long list of clients - including "the CEOs of many Fortune 100 companies across a diverse range of industry sectors" and "senior leaders of many of the world’s largest and most complex companies and organizations" - and notorious for not commenting on controversies involving itself.
I added, "In their rush to publish an exclusive a few hours early, the reporters didn't even apparently attempt to contact any critics of the deal. And a day later, any story already is in danger of becoming old news. Business journalists reporting on firms that have deep political ties and that will affect how many Americans receive their news should leave room for criticism in all their articles. But not quoting critics might have been a condition of the 'scoop', as well."

Last year, on December 8, 2014, Michael J. de la Merced, "scooped" the world on a story directly related to Teneo, reporting, "Teneo, a corporate advisory firm with an unusually broad array of businesses, has secured backing from the big private equity firm BC Partners, the company plans to disclose this week."

However, Merced's article doesn't make any reference to how he learned about the "company plans". The New York Times reporter doesn't mention a source, named or unnamed, which might be a violation of the paper's rules on journalism ethics.

Merced does paraphrase an exclusive quote he apparently got from one of Teneo's presidents, but, again, there are ethical concerns, if a top business journalist for - arguably - the most important paper in America is publishing stories - that omit key information - based on tips from a powerful P.R. firm. "The investment from BC Partners came about through friendships that some of the firm’s senior executives have with Teneo’s management, according to Richard Powell, the head of Teneo’s communications arm."

I've also reported in two stories after the ISIS-linked attacks in Paris, about how the media rely on Teneo Intelligence consultants for stories, even though the firm is secretive about what oil companies it represents. See "During terror attacks, Teneo Intelligence Managing Director Crispin Hawes reassures oil investors" and "Analysts at consulting firm tied to Hillary Clinton are often critical of military action against ISIS" for more on this, and I will have related stories in the future.

A New York Times reporter who apparently attended last week's "hand-picked" press conference handled by Teneo, left out its connections to the Clintons in his story, but he wasn't exactly fawning of what Kattner said before and after the arrests.

"At a briefing with reporters Wednesday night, Mr. Kattner staunchly defended the right of the executive committee to implement such a change on its own, despite the significance of the decision and despite its lack of consultation with any of the stakeholders it would affect, notably television rights-holders, sponsors and national and continental federations," Sam Borden reported for The New York Times on December 5th.

Borden's story continued, "(He also defended as proper the bizarre inclusion of an item in the proposal that had nothing to do with governance — the imminent expansion of the World Cup to 40 teams from the current 32 — when it seemed to be little more than a sweetener for FIFA members who will vote to ratify these changes at February’s Congress.)"

"Even Thursday, after more reasoned voices on FIFA’s executive committee prevailed and the possible World Cup expansion was separated from the governance items, Mr. Kattner did not seem to grasp the latent hypocrisy that would have come with an executive committee’s endorsing proposals that would reduce its power while, simultaneously, using that power to make a unilateral decision on a huge change to a showpiece event," Borden added.

However, Borden did praise FIFA for hiring Teneo, sometime in late June and early July, a few weeks before the news broke, another UK journalist told me over the summer.

"In recent months, FIFA has hired a well-regarded American public relations firm, Teneo, to shepherd it through this crisis," Borden wrote, instead of calling it controversial due to its tight-lipped connections to governments across the globe and the Clintons. "It was a good decision, but one that cannot be a panacea. FIFA needs to change. Identifying and effecting new structures and policies and functions is one part of that. The other part — a part that, in some ways, is even more significant — is finding the right people to make the public believe in the changes."

Like other New York Times reporters I have criticized for their stories on Teneo clients which don't mention either Clinton, Borden ignored many tweets I made, such as, "I guess when Teneo 'hand-picks' you to attend exclusive FIFA press conference, it's "smart" to call them 'well-regarded' in NYT" and, "I'm sure you're working hard on story on how 'well-regarded' Teneo is probably secretly lobbying US gov't officials for FIFA. ;) @SamBorden."

Last Wednesday's "handpicked" press conference also included reporters from the AFP, Reuters, the BBC and Swiss and German news outlets, according to Lane.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

New York Times journalist Michael Schmidt wrongly reports on Hillary Clinton emails again

New York Times journalist Michael Schmidt desperately needs better editors or researchers before publishing articles on Hillary Clinton emails. In his latest story, he almost definitely assumes wrongly regarding the subject of a completely redacted email.

"Many of the emails released on Monday were heavily redacted, providing only tantalizing hints of what was being discussed. One exchange between Mrs. Clinton and Huma Abedin, a close aide, had the subject line 'Koch,' an apparent reference to either David H. or Charles G. Koch, the billionaire brothers who have helped finance conservative causes. Other than the subject, the entire email was redacted," Michael Schmidt almost definitely misreports.

Since former Democratic NYC Mayor Ed Koch died on February 1, 2013, the Clinton email (pdf link) presumably refers to him. Koch also was a supporter of Hillary Clinton when she ran for president in 2008.



Update: Late Tuesday evening, The New York Times finally fixed Schmidt's article. The line was changed to "One exchange between Mrs. Clinton and Huma Abedin, a close aide, had the subject line 'Koch,' a reference to Ed Koch, the former mayor of New York City, according to the Clinton campaign." Popular Internet podcaster @VinceInTheBay tweeted, "There's a correction citing Clinton source. Why didn't he ask campaign before publishing?" Instead of an apology to readers, since it was reported in the newspaper and clearly wasn't fact-checked, there is an insufficient correction that states, "An earlier version of this article stated incorrectly the subject of a Hillary Clinton email that the State Department released on Nov. 30. The subject line “Koch,” was a reference to Ed Koch, the former mayor of New York City, according to the Clinton campaign; it was not an apparent reference to either David H. or Charles G. Koch, the billionaire brothers who have helped finance conservative causes."

"The New York Times made small but significant changes to an exclusive report about a potential criminal investigation into Hillary Clinton's State Department email account late Thursday night, but provided no notification of or explanation for of the changes," Dylan Byers reported for Politico on July 24.
"The paper initially reported that two inspectors general have asked the Justice Department to open a criminal investigation 'into whether Hillary Rodham Clinton mishandled sensitive government information on a private email account she used as secretary of state.'

That clause, which cast Clinton as the target of the potential criminal probe, was later changed: the inspectors general now were asking for an inquiry 'into whether sensitive government information was mishandled in connection with the personal email account Hillary Rodham Clinton used as secretary of state.'

The Times also changed the headline of the story, from 'Criminal Inquiry Sought in Hillary Clinton’s Use of Email" to "Criminal Inquiry Is Sought in Clinton Email Account,' reflecting a similar recasting of Clinton's possible role. The article's URL was also changed to reflect the new headline.

As of early Friday morning, the Times article contained no update, notification, clarification or correction regarding the changes made to the article.

One of the reporters of the story, Michael Schmidt, explained early Friday that the Clinton campaign had complained about the story to the Times.

'It was a response to complaints we received from the Clinton camp that we thought were reasonable, and we made them,' Schmidt said.
"
As I reported in July, The New York Times article by Michael S. Schmidt and Matt Apuzzo originally published on July 23, 2015 was full of so many mistakes that it probably merits its own internal probe, but one of the corrections added afterwards seems to blame "senior government officials" for the paper's misreporting.

"An article and a headline in some editions on Friday about a request to the Justice Department for an investigation regarding Hillary Clinton’s personal email account while she was secretary of state misstated the nature of the request, using information from senior government officials," a New York Times correction added to the article on July 25 stated, after the paper falsely reported the 2016 presidential candidate was facing a 'criminal referral' by two Inspectors Generals. "It addressed the potential compromise of classified information in connection with that email account. It did not specifically request an investigation into Mrs. Clinton."

A second New York Times correction to the same article on July 26 added, "An article in some editions on Friday about a request to the Justice Department for an investigation regarding Hillary Clinton’s personal email account while she was secretary of state referred incorrectly, using information from senior government officials, to the request. It was a 'security referral,' pertaining to possible mishandling of classified information, officials said, not a 'criminal referral.'"

Michael S. Schimdt has also ignored multiple tweets I've sent him regarding an article he wrote for The New York Times in March, which I believe wrongly reported that the Clinton aide who set up the private server currently works for Teneo. On March 17, 2015 Amy Chozick tweeted that the New York Times "will look into this," after I told her that the article seemed to be wrong about Justin Cooper's current employment. Other media outlets seem to have followed the Times lead, and may be wrongly reporting that he is currently with Teneo. The article was never corrected, and Chozick has ignored all the tweets I've sent her since then (see ).

On October 6 I reported, Last week, apparently without fact-checking, some members of the media - including The New York Times editorial page editor Andrew Rosenthal - seemingly repeated the bogus (see The Hill) Clinton campaign assertion that Benghazi was the longest House Committee probe ever. Salon Deputy Politics Editor Sophia Tesfaye - who is also a researcher for Media Matters For America (who have defended the Clintons for a long time, as I reported with RAW STORY in 2006: "Senator Clinton made personal phone calls to raise money for ‘nonpartisan’ defender, employees say"), according to her LinkedIn resume - went further and compared it to investigations such as the Hurricane Katrina, Warren Commission, and Iran-Contra probes, without noting that most consider those probes too short or cover-ups of scandals. Ms. Tesfaye ignored tweets I sent her asking about this, but she - at least - updated her Salon story, while the Rosenthal editorial at The New York Times remains uncorrected.

A correction was finally added to Rosenthal's column eight days after it was published, after I tweeted Anna North - who "writes on cultural topics for the editorial page and is the editor of [The New York Times' editorial page editor's] blog": "When you edited @andyrNYT column with bogus Benghazi probe claim, did you fact-check? Will you fix? @annanorthtweets http://ronbryn.blogspot.com/2015/10/democrats-spin-as-if-it-were-classified.html". However, I still think the correction should contain an explanation, especially since it appears to be based on a Clinton 2016 talking point.