Democrats Hired to Promote Moore Film

Posted May 14, 2004 at 5:30pm

[IMGCAP(1)]A firm that includes several high-profile Democrats has been hired to run a nationwide promotional campaign for filmmaker Michael Moore’s controversial new documentary “Fahrenheit 9-11.”

To flack the film, Miramax has tapped the Glover Park Group and former Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chief Howard Wolfson. The firm also includes Joe Lockhart, a former spokesman for President Bill Clinton; Carter Eskew, a political strategist for former Vice President Al Gore; and Mike Feldman, an aide to Gore.

Miramax, a subsidiary of the Walt Disney Co., is run by Harvey and Bob Weinstein, two heavyweight backers of the Democratic Party.

Since 1999, the Weinstein brothers have contributed $224,000 to Democratic candidates and party organizations, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.

Harvey Weinstein’s wife, Eve Chilton Weinstein, contributed another $384,000 to Democrats during the same period.

Moore’s film, which debuts this summer, has touched a nerve because it is highly critical of President Bush and alleges that President Bush permitted several of Osama bin Laden’s relatives to depart the country in the days after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Amid the political controversy, Disney Chairman Michael Eisner reportedly pressured Miramax to cancel its distribution deal with Moore. The Weinsteins were able to work out a deal that allows them to distribute the film independently of Disney.

The promotional assistance provided by the Glover Park Group is designed to be a nationwide public-relations campaign, rather than one targeted specifically to the Washington market.

A Major League Move. Major personnel moves in professional sports world usually create major headlines, whether it’s Wayne Gretzky leaving Canada to skate for the Los Angeles Kings or Roger Clemens joining the New York Yankees after a career pitching for the rival Boston Red Sox.

Blockbuster moves in sports lobbying, however, hardly create a stir.

Consider Philip Hochberg, one of Washington’s top sports lobbyists.

Last month, Hochberg quietly left the powerhouse law firm Piper Rudnick to

start his own firm, representing the National Football League, the National Basketball Association, the National Hockey League, the PGA Tour and NASCAR.

“I guess I decided that I wanted to be responsible to myself and my clients after 35 years in a law firm,” said Hochberg, 63. “It’s the last chance I would have to do something like this.”

Hochberg is among a small cadre of lobbyists who represent sports leagues — and perhaps the only one who represents nearly all of them.

Hochberg brought all of his sports clients with him to his new firm, though at least one — the PGA Tour — will continue to rely on Piper Rudnick as well.

In addition to the pro leagues, Hochberg brought a few collegiate sports clients with him, such as the Division 1-A Athletic Directors Association and the Football Bowl Association.

Together, the sports clients paid Piper Rudnick about $300,000 in lobbying fees last year, according to disclosure reports. About $120,000 of that total came from the PGA Tour.

Hochberg also has a personal background in sports: He spent 38 years as an announcer with the Washington Redskins and is a member of the team’s Hall of Fame.

New School Choice Coalition. To mark the 50th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education, a group of education-reform advocates plans to announce a new lobbying coalition to advocate for school-choice legislation.

The coalition, the Alliance for School Choice, will be unveiled at a press conference today by its founder, Clint Bolick, a longtime conservative legal activist affiliated with the free-market Institute for Justice.

The new group “believes that Brown v. Board is much more than putting children in the same classroom, it’s about giving them the same opportunities,” according to a press release.

The alliance bills itself as the first national bipartisan group created to battle the formidable National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers on school-choice issues.

The group claims support from representatives of the National Council of La Raza and the Black Alliance for Educational Options.

“We plan to be active on the Hill,” said Bolick, who cut his teeth during the fights over conservative judicial nominees seeking Senate confirmation.

Though the new coalition has no plans to advertise in Washington or hire outside lobbyists, Bolick said the group may open an office in Washington.

Domenick to Join Loeffler Firm. Democratic lobbyist Julie Domenick has moved to Loeffler, Jonas & Tuggey, where she will manage the firm’s lobbying shop after two of its top lobbyists departed.

Formerly the chief lobbyist at the Investment Company Institute, Domenick left the trade association after she was passed over for a job to head the mutual fund industry trade group.

Domenick’s party affiliation became an issue when an aide to House Financial Services Chairman Mike Oxley (R-Ohio) expressed concern about the ICI having a Democrat in such a high-ranking position.

Domenick comes to the firm that was founded by former Rep. Tom Loeffler (R-Texas) to help fill the hole left by the departure of GOP lobbyists Dan Cohen and Mark Franz.

The lobbying firm also has decided to hire Republicans Dallas “Rob” Sweezy from the Bush administration and Joseph Mondello from the office of Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R).