Shop Talk: Action Jackson

Posted February 25, 2009 at 6:36pm

Talk about going into business for yourself. In an e-mail released earlier this week, Democratic media consultant Bud Jackson attempted to separate himself from the mess surrounding one of his pro bono clients, Sen. Roland Burris (D-Ill.).

[IMGCAP(1)]In the message, Jackson calls Burris’ recent media efforts “less than stellar” and writes to his friends, colleagues and the media that he had no part of the Illinois Democrat’s recent communications strategy.

“Turns out that, because my business is political communication, I need to let folks know that I have not been involved in the decisions that have led to the public relations fiasco over the past week,” Jackson wrote. “In fact, I actively counseled his team to take very different actions, to no avail.”

Burris was appointed to the Senate by former Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D), who was impeached and removed from office after federal investigators alleged he was trying to sell off President Barack Obama’s Senate seat. An affidavit filed early this month revealed that Burris had contact about fundraising with some of the governor’s advisers — a fact that was omitted in his sworn testimony to the state Legislature prior to his appointment.

Burris made a couple of public appearances following media reports about the affidavit, a communications strategy that Jackson said in a phone interview was “done without my knowledge.”

“It has been painful to watch,” Jackson wrote. “I know that he has done nothing inappropriate despite the impression that has been left.”

Jackson advised Burris on a voluntary basis leading up to his seating in the Senate, after which he said he began to work pro bono on Burris’ 2010 campaign. Jackson produced media for Burris’ failed Democratic gubernatorial primary bid in 2002.

“I voluntarily began to focus on 2010, like any responsible politicians or adviser would do,” Jackson said in a phone interview. “No decision has been made about that, but if you’re responsible you still take steps [for] when that decision is made.”

Since the recent media firestorm, Jackson said that any work on a 2010 campaign has been “suspended.” Burris has yet to say publicly whether he plans to seek a full term then.

Bienvenido a NRCC. The National Republican Congressional Committee has picked Joanna Burgos to be its new western regional press secretary, with a focus on Spanish-language media.

Burgos, who is fluent in Spanish, finished up the 2008 cycle as the communications director for the Nevada Republican Party. Prior to that gig, Burgos was the press secretary for the Republican National Convention and a communications aide for the presidential campaign of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R).

Like Son, Like Father. They say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. This a gravity-defying feat to contemplate: After serving as press secretary to then-Sen. John Sununu’s (R-N.H.) failed re-election bid in 2008, Ryan Williams has hooked up with the ex-Senator’s father, New Hampshire GOP Chairman and ex-Gov. John Sununu, as the new communications director for the state party.

Williams worked in former Massachusett’s Gov. Mitt Romney’s gubernatorial press office before heading to the national communications staff for his presidential bid, and he then eventually found his way to the junior Sununu’s Senate re-election bid in the Granite State.

Dover and Out. The Dover Group has tapped Kathleen Strand to serve as a senior vice president of strategic communications in its Chicago office.

Strand was a senior communications adviser to now-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton during Clinton’s 2008 presidential bid, overseeing the campaign’s media operation in the New Hampshire primary and during the Democratic National Convention.

“We are thrilled to have Kathleen on board,” Dover Group partner Mark Nevins said. “While working with her in Pennsylvania during the presidential primaries, it became obvious to me that she is one of the most talented communications professionals in the industry.”

Strand joins the group’s four existing partners: Nevins, Kelly Dietrich, Chris Esposito and Larry Jacob.

Allison, My Aim Is True. Allison Kaminsky Putala is moving on from Burson-Marsteller to start her own public relations firm, Kaminsky Putala Public Relations in Washington, D.C. It’s a one-woman shop that specializes in public relations for political and corporate clients, media consulting and placements.

Kaminsky Putala was previously the television media adviser for Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), as well as the senior media coordinator for the House Republican Conference, where she was responsible for the TV appearances for GOP House Members.

Take It to the Woodhouse. The Democratic National Committee has announced two hires: Brad Woodhouse as communications director and Clyde Williams as political director.

Woodhouse is returning to the DNC, where he will manage the communications and research departments. He temporarily served as senior adviser to the DNC in the 2008 presidential election, taking leave from a group that he has led since early 2007 — Americans United for Change.

Williams most recently founded and led his own business development firm, Certus Advisors, in New York. Williams also served as a top policy adviser to the Clinton Foundation from 2001 to 2005 and as vice president of state and local government affairs at the Center for American Progress.

According to a news release from the party, outgoing Communications Director Karen Finney has left the DNC to start her own consulting business.

The Republican National Committee, meanwhile, is expected to announce a slew of new top-level staffers in the next few weeks, according to a source inside the building. When recently elected RNC Chairman Michael Steele took the reins in January, he asked almost every staffer to submit their resignation — at least provisionally — while he did a thorough review of the committee staff.

The GOP source said the committee is still operating under a “slim-downed staff” for the next few weeks.

Good As (Fein)gold. In preparation for his 2010 re-election bid, Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) has announced a slew of top campaign staffers who have all worked for the state’s junior Senator for a few years.

George Aldrich will serve as campaign manager, following up his successful work running Feingold’s 2004 re-election bid.

Trevor Miller will serve as political and communications director. Miller has worked for Feingold since 2000 and has managed his political operation in Wisconsin for the past two years.

Both veterans of Feingold’s campaign since 2003, Lenee Kruse and Paula Zellner will serve as finance director and field director, respectively. Another five-year alumni of the Feingold camp, Cole Leystra will be the campaign administrator and comptroller.

Oh, Danny Boy. Former Republican National Committee Communications Director Danny Diaz has started his own shop.

Danny Diaz LLC will offer consulting, media relations, campaign management and crisis communications. Diaz reports that he is currently working for clients that are opposed to the Employee Free Choice Act.

Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper. The Washington Post reported recently that New York-based Democratic consulting firm Knickerbocker SKD has picked up Chris Cooper to run its Washington, D.C., office.

Cooper comes from MSHC Partners, where he worked with Reps. Suzanne Kosmas (D-Fla.), Chet Edwards (D-Texas) and Zack Space (D-Ohio) — clients who will follow him to his new firm.

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