|Obama Aides 'Pissed Off' About Former WH Communications Director Anita Dunn
By: Shawn Paul Wood
Unless it's jumping ship before the iceberg hits, I have never understood why someone would leave a cushy job working for the President of the United States. There's the resume fodder, the benefits, the personal contact with the guy sitting at the Resolute Desk...hell, the business card alone would be worth a few thousand follows on Twitter.
And then there's former White House Director of Communication (and chick in dire need of a hairstylist) Anita Dunn. Nevermind the fact she once touted that her favorite philosopher was Communist and Marxist dictator Mao Tse Tung. We all have our foibles, right? Oh sure, when news first broke that she didn't really care for her interim title and wanted to do the obligatory and ubiquitous "spend more time with the family," people in the White House understood. Even her husband, who also had a cushy gig at the White House as Lead Legal Counsel, didn't mind her leaving so much.
That is, until this story came out from The Daily Beast. Don't take my word for it. Read the headline, "Obama Aides 'Pissed Off' About Anita Dunn." Dang!
Evidently, Anita's government salary only bought her cheese because she was double dipping her clients — while representing the Administration, she was "consulting" lobbyists on how to work with — or against — the administration. The story notes a lovely New York Times article in which a handful of close folks with said administration wanted to be anonymous. Why? So they could trash this woman without reservation. Here's a quote:
In fact, Dunn's firm SKDKnickerbocker, which the story notes has conveniently doubled in size since giving the president a peace sign, has several lobbying firms on the roster. Although some SPOX at the White House her Jekyll & Hyde approach to working for the government, many rightly question Dunn's ethics:
A White House aide conceded being “pissed off” by the story, expressing concern that Mitt Romney could use it to ridicule Obama’s pledges to change Washington’s political culture. He cited several other consultants working on the reelection campaign and said, “You don’t hear stories about them so obviously exploiting their access.”
Fortunately for that intern looking for his or her 15 minutes, it didn't. However, it doesn't omit the fact that she was playing both sides against each other and hedging big bets. The story continues to note Dunn's involvement with the administration. She has visited the White House 100 times and she even sat in as Candy Crowley for debate prep. Now that this is public, it looks like Dunn is tucking her tail.
A campaign aide said: "The timing is terrible. I bet it comes up in the debate as a question of Obama's ethics. I think she is well over the line."
Now, I wouldn't look for this story to make much ballyhoo past some of the usual suspects who are full of more stuff than a Christmas turkey, but this story begs the point: Whatever happened to the ethics of the PR community? No, this isn't Abramoff-esque corruption, nor is it even illegal, but it sure is janky. Will it make the administration look bad? Not so much. Does it make her look bad? Definitely. Will she care? Well, let's see how long it takes her to buy that Bentley she asked Santa about, and I'll let you know.
Dunn apologized for being unable to comment, and asked a colleague to respond on her behalf. The spokesman for her firm said: “We’re a public relations not a lobbying firm. Our job is to help clients with media,” though she said it will give lobbyists with whom it works suggested statements, or “talking points,” to use on behalf of clients.
This is a great industry in which we serve. Ethics and character are a large part of it. So, whenever I see a "PR firm" pushing for "reduced tax rates," I hear red sirens. It's nice to have clients with scruples as well. When the word finally gets around to the Oval Office, I'm sure Obama won't be happy about this besmirching. Will he do something? I don't know. I would. At least, that's how I was taught. You?
Shawn Paul Wood
is a hack-turned-flack with more than 20 years of collective journalism, copywriting and marketing communications experience. Shawn Paul is founder of Woodworks Communications in Dallas, Texas. If you need him, ping him here
or follow him on Twitter @ShawnPaulWood
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