Cong. Hearings Loom: Pfizer, Halliburton

Bloomberg News reports that corporations that had until now been shielded by
Republicans who controlled Congress–as for example, the pharmaceutical
industry which is reported to have given 68% of its 2006 campaign gifts to
Republicans; and Haliburton, which gave 92% of its contributions to
Republicans–are now scrambling to hire public relations professionals.

The 2006 elections are proving to be a boon for lobbyists, PR firms and
lawyers–especially those  with relationships to Democrats–are being
anxiously sought to buy favor with Democrats. "In the era of instant news,
even the threat of a congressional investigation can impact a company's
brand, reputation, and, just as  importantly, its bottom line…''

Paul Fitzhenry, a spokesman for New York-based Pfizer, and Glover Park
partner Joel Johnson, a former Clinton administration and Senate  Democratic
staff member, said the group has handled a number of  assignments for the
drugmaker for about two years.

Lobbyists with Washington experience are considered particularly valuable
when chief executive officers face nationally televised  hearings.
Cong. Henry Waxman will be presiding over hearings about Haliburton, the
company which was headed by Vice President Dick Cheney.
Waxman presided over one of the most famous on April 14,  1994, when seven
tobacco- industry CEOs testified that they didn't  add nicotine to their
cigarettes.

Public hearings entail much greater risk with respect to a company's
reputation than does civil litigation which is mostly resolved away from the
public glare with incriminating documents often sealed from public view.
Lilly's battle to keep a court injunction preventing the Zyprexa documents
from being publicly circulated is a prima facie example.

Indeed, Bloomberg reports that the pharmaceutical industry may be the
biggest target for investigators.
The House voted Jan. 12 to require the Medicare program to negotiate prices
with drug companies; five  congressional committees plan hearings into
industry practices,  including the generic-drug approval process and drug
safety.

Can it be that we will see a dozen (or so) pharmaceutical industry CEOs
testify under oath about their marketing drugs whose lethal effects they
knew but concealed?

Contact: Vera Hassner Sharav
212-595-8974
veracare@ahrp.org
 
 

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601070&sid=a8fyOQYvbFQ8&refer=politics
Pfizer, Halliburton Grab Democrats as Hearings Loom
By Jonathan D. Salant  January 31, 2007

Jan. 31 (Bloomberg) — Pharmaceutical companies and Iraq war 
contractors, both heavy Republican contributors, are among the 
companies scrambling to hire lobbyists with Democratic ties as they 
prepare for congressional investigative hearings next week.

Pfizer Inc., the world's biggest drugmaker, has hired the Glover Park 
Group, whose partners include Joe Lockhart, a former spokesman for 
President Bill Clinton, and Howard Wolfson, a spokesman for Senator 
Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign. Roche Holding AG picked as 
its lobbyist William Clyburn, cousin of the House's third-ranking 
Democrat, Jim Clyburn of South Carolina.

The increased hiring coincides with the Democratic congressional 
sweep that has sent shudders through corporate boardrooms.

“No general counsel or CEO wants to have to explain to his board why 
the company's name is appearing on the front page of a news article 
in a scandal,'' said Nick Allard, a partner in the law and lobbying 
firm of Patton Boggs LLP, which just landed military contractor 
Halliburton Co. as a client. “Firms and industry groups that have 
not yet been represented are talking to firms all over town.''

Representative Henry Waxman, 67, the California Democrat who heads 
the House Oversight and Government Reform committee, plans to hold 
hearings beginning Feb. 6 on Iraq contractors. The committee has 
asked executives from Halliburton to testify.

The Cheney Connection
Halliburton, a Houston-based oilfield services company once headed by 
Vice President Dick Cheney, gave 92 percent of its political-action 
committee contributions to Republicans for the 2006 campaign, 
according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington 
research group.

The company's new firm, Patton Boggs, counts Democratic lobbyist 
Thomas Boggs among its name partners. KBR Inc., a Halliburton unit, 
hired the law and lobbying firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, 
whose partners include Democratic former House Speaker Thomas Foley.

“Halliburton retains firms with deep experience in the industry, on 
Capitol Hill and in the administration to help us navigate the policy 
arena,'' Melissa Norcross, a spokeswoman for Halliburton and KBR, 
said in an e-mailed comment.

Lobbyists with Washington experience are considered particularly 
valuable when chief executive officers face nationally televised 
hearings. Waxman presided over one of the most famous on April 14, 
1994, when seven tobacco- industry CEOs testified that they didn't 
add nicotine to their cigarettes.

Raising the Stakes
Public hearings raise the stakes for corporations, said Mark 
Paoletta, a lawyer who helped run investigations for the House Energy 
and Commerce Committee when Republicans were in control. “The 
company has a much larger risk with respect to its reputation'' than 
in civil litigation that can be resolved away from the public glare, he
said.

Some Republican lobbyists are also benefiting from the increased 
congressional attention. Paoletta and another Energy and Commerce 
lawyer, Andrew Snowdon, just joined the Washington office of lobbying 
and law firm Dickstein Shapiro LLP.

Mark Corallo and Barbara Comstock, two former Justice Department 
officials who have formed their own lobbying firm in Alexandria, 
Virginia, are talking to representatives of oil and drug companies. 
One of the pair's new clients, security firm Blackwater USA of 
Moyock, North Carolina, is scheduled to testify next week before 
Waxman's committee, Corallo said. The panel is probing possible waste 
and fraud in Iraq war contracts.

`Congressional Crosshairs'
“When we realized that the political winds were blowing the other 
way, we understood there would be a market,'' said Corallo. Companies 
that “escaped oversight'' for more than a decade “are going to find 
themselves in the congressional crosshairs,'' he said.

The pharmaceutical industry, which the Center for Responsive Politics 
says gave 68 percent of its 2006 campaign gifts to Republicans, may 
be the biggest target for investigators. The House voted Jan. 12 to 
require the Medicare program, which provides health care for the 
elderly and disabled, to negotiate prices with drug companies; five 
congressional committees plan hearings into industry practices, 
including the generic-drug approval process and drug safety.

Paul Fitzhenry, a spokesman for New York-based Pfizer, and Glover 
Park partner Joel Johnson, a former Clinton administration and Senate 
Democratic staff member, said the group has handled a number of 
assignments for the drugmaker for about two years.

First Registration
This year marks the first time Glover Park has registered as the 
company's lobbyists, congressional filings show. Johnson said the 
firm registered “ when it became evident that the inside role was to 
require outside contacts'' on legislative matters. Lockhart and 
Wolfson, the Glover Park partners, aren't listed on congressional 
forms as the firm's lobbyists for Pfizer.

William Clyburn didn't return phone calls seeking comment. Roche, 
based in Basel, Switzerland, had no immediate comment when asked 
about the investigations.

Thousand Oaks, California-based Amgen Inc., the world's largest 
biotechnology company, hired two firms in the last two months, 
congressional filings show. “It certainly is a different political 
landscape,'' Amgen spokeswoman Kelley Davenport said.

Amgen's new lobbyists include the Duberstein Group, led by Kenneth 
Duberstein, former chief of staff to President Ronald Reagan, and 
Michael Berman, a veteran Democratic political operative. The company 
also hired Lent, Scrivner & Roth LLC, whose partners include former 
Republican Representative Norman Lent of New York and Alan Roth, 
staff director of the House Energy and Commerce Committee when it was 
previously under Democratic control.

Republican Lobbyist
Another Washington law firm, Venable LLP, brought in Raymond Shepherd 
III, a Republican who is former chief counsel to the Senate Homeland 
Security and Governmental Affairs investigations subcommittee, to run 
its new congressional-investigation group. Birch Bayh, a former 
Democratic senator from Indiana, is a partner at the firm.

Venable's new clients include London-based drugmaker AstraZeneca PLC, 
maker of Crestor, the fastest-growing cholesterol medicine.

“In the era of instant news, even the threat of a congressional 
investigation can impact a company's brand, reputation, and, just as 
importantly, its bottom line,'' said Gloria Dittus, head of Dittus 
Communications, a Washington-based public-affairs firm.
———-
To contact the reporter on this story: Jonathan D. Salant in 
Washington at jsalant@bloomberg.net .

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