Glover Park Group
Learn more about Pete Peterson-funded astroturf projects at the Fix the Debt Portal.
The Glover Park Group (GPG) is a public relations and communications firm that, according to its website, seeks to "combine substantive understanding of complex issues with disciplined execution of crisp influence campaigns that shape the way critical audiences view our clients and their goals."
The firm, which includes several former Clinton administration officials, as well as former republican communications strategists offers services in public affairs and issues management, government affairs and legislative strategy (lobbying), media relations (PR), crisis communications (crisis management), opinion research, and corporate communications, among others.
2012: "Massive Campaign" for Pete Peterson's "Fix the Debt" Astroturf Supergroup
The Campaign to Fix the Debt is the latest incarnation of a decades-long effort by former Nixon man turned Wall Street billionaire Pete Peterson to slash earned benefit programs such as Social Security and Medicare under the guise of fixing the nation's "debt problem."
With a staff of 80 and a budget targeted to $60 million, $40 million of which was raised by February 2013, Fix the Debt is best described as an "Astroturf supergroup." According to PR Week, Fix the Debt has numerous Washington, D.C. PR firms/lobby shops helping it, many of whom also lobby for Fix the Debt firms. These include DCI Group, Glover Park Group, and Dewey Square Group, which have lobbied for multiple Fix the Debt corporations in multiple years. For example, DCI Group lobbied for Morgan Stanley on tax issues in 2006 and 2007. Fix the Debt is also using Proof Integrated Communications (PIC), a unit of the PR firm Burson-Marsteller, for its aggressive advertising push. As Fix the Debt creates more Astroturf state chapters, they also engage PR firms at the state level to carry their message.
In the run-up to the “fiscal cliff,” these firms launched a flashy $3 million media ad campaign, blanketing Capitol Hill with TV, Internet, Metro and newspaper ads. PIC's portion of the campaign included "parody recreations of well-known advertising slogans," such as: the slogan "i'm fixin' it" on a carton of fries to imitate the McDonald's "i'm lovin' it" campaign; the slogan "Got debt?" to imitate the famous "Got milk?" dairy ad campaign; and the slogan "Just fix it" to imitate the Nike "Just do it" campaign.
Fix the Debt CEOs are treated with fawning respect by the mainstream media. Fix the Debt’s David Cote "brings serious financial muscle to the table" when he pushes "market credible solutions," says the Wall Street Journal. Cote is free to lecture the country on the hazards of Social Security, given his $78 million dollars in personal pension assets. The fact that he underfunds his employees’ pensions by $2.7 billion is never noted; and the fact that he heads a company paying a negative tax rate (-0.7 percent) is apparently not considered relevant.
The campaign had the most presence in the Washington, D.C. area, but Bassik said that "future iterations of the effort will use images of regular people to show lawmakers that constituents also want a bi-partisan deal to take place." Fix the Debt's other PR agency partners, DCI Group, Glover Park Group, and Dewey Square Group, were to do additional research and "find average citizens." Dewey Square and DCI are also handling "grass-roots outreach" -- i.e. Astroturf -- for the campaign, according to Politico, and "firms are still pitching the coalition, hoping to get business for potential television ads" as of December 5, 2012.
On December 16, 2012, Fix the Debt released its first television ad (see video), with a six-figure buy, featuring "interviews with several Americans who talk about their concerns over America’s debt" and accompanying text, "We need to do more than avoid the fiscal cliff."
Burson-Marsteller's Johanna Schneider told PR Week that the ad campaign was the biggest public policy campaign she had seen in some time. It also included full-page ads in The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Hill, Roll Call, Politico, and National Journal. Politico reported of Fix the Debt's campaign, "Message men, lobbyists, grassroots firms[,] and lawyers are raking in cash . . . It's a classic Washington phenomenon: Ahead of a major deal, corporate clients and other groups pay a premium to the Washington influence machinery to make sure their interests are protected."
This article is part of the Center for Media and Democracy's investigation of Pete Peterson's Campaign to "Fix the Debt." Please visit our main SourceWatch page on Fix the Debt.
|About Fix the Debt|
The Campaign to Fix the Debt is the latest incarnation of a decades-long effort by former Nixon man turned Wall Street billionaire Pete Peterson to slash earned benefit programs such as Social Security and Medicare under the guise of fixing the nation's "debt problem." Through a special report and new interactive wiki resource, the Center for Media and Democracy -- in partnership with the Nation magazine -- exposes the funding, the leaders, the partner groups, and the phony state "chapters" of this astroturf supergroup. Learn more at PetersonPyramid.org and in the Nation magazine.
The Group has also "been at the center of some of the biggest policy debates in New York City in recent years," as the New York Times reported. "Partners from the firm have been involved in helping organize campaigns against two projects favored by Michael R. Bloomberg, the city's Republican mayor: revamping the city charter and building a stadium for the New York Jets on the West Side of Manhattan."
Fueling opposition to ethanol
In early 2008, after realizing that "rising food prices ... create a window to change perceptions about the benefits of bio-fuels," the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) decided to launch "an 'aggressive' public relations campaign ... in an effort to roll back ethanol mandates that passed in last year's energy bill," reported Roll Call. In March, GMA began searching for a PR firm to help it build "a global center-left coalition" against ethanol and hire "trusted third-party experts" who would link ethanol to global hunger and poverty. 
Glover Park submitted a six-month, $50,000 proposal to GMA and won the account. As part of the campaign, Glover Park suggested attacking "whatever intellectual justification might still exist for corn-based ethanol among policy elites," launching a website and possibly creating a "costumed 'mascot' ... to drawn attention and distribute advocacy materials at local supermarkets." U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa, who strongly criticized the anti-ethanol PR campaign, posted GMA's "request for proposal" (PDF) and Glover Park's response (PDF) on his website. 
Lobbying for Colombia trade bill
Politico.com reported on April 8, 2008, "Mark Penn [worldwide CEO of Burson-Marsteller] isn’t the only Hillary Clinton supporter on the wrong side of the Colombia trade agreement. The Democratic-leaning advocacy firm the Glover Park Group, former home to Clinton campaign spokesman Howard Wolfson, signed a $40,000 per month contract with the government of Colombia in April of 2007 to promote the very agreement that Clinton now rails against on the presidential campaign trail. ... Several other Glover Park employees have deep connections with the Clintons, including founding partner Joe Lockhart, who served as the White House press secretary under President Bill Clinton, and Joel Johnson, who was a senior communications adviser in the Clinton White House."
In May 2007 the Glover Park Group was retained by ProExport Colombia, the Colombian government's trade bureau, to "provide government affairs and lobbying services ... to assist in the passing of the Trade Promotion Agreement between the United States and the Republic of Colombia." In its $40,000-a-month contract, which was signed by GPG CEO Carl A. Smith, the lobbying firm undertook the task of developing "a strategy directed to support the ongoing efforts to promote favorable consideration in the Congress of the United States of America about the TPA (Trade Promotion Agreement)." Specific elements of the strategy GPG proposed were to:
- "Identify the most significant elements of the congress in the United States Congress, and particularly the Democratic Party, will bear in mind to determine their stand on the TPA;"
- "Based on a carefully elaborated diagnostic, propose to the Colombia government a comprehensive government relations strategy to reach out for broader support for the approval of the TPA in the United States Congress";
- "Identify within the press, the Congress, the academy, business leaders and in general the United States society, speakers and leaders that can help the Government of Colombia to transmit its arguments and priorities in relation to the TPA";
- "Implement the strategy for the above objectives, working closely with Colombian Government teams in Washington D and in Colombia. This includes the necessary contacts and actions to promote support for the approval of the TPA in Congress of the United States"
Fighting for and against climate protection
GPG doesn't mind working all sides of an issue, "providing PR support to the Alliance for Climate Protection, the Al Gore-backed group," as well as helping the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers fight against fuel efficiency standards. "Interpublic’s Martin Agency has developed ads for the campaign with the Alliance for Climate Protection featuring unlikely political pairings like Nancy Pelosi and Newt Gingrich, and Pat Robertson and Al Sharpton. ... Brian Hardwick, director of communications for the Alliance, told O'Dwyer's that Glover Park's Washington, D.C., office is working with the group. Jason Miner, VP at Glover Park, heads the account. He is a former research director for the Democratic National Committee and was a senior member of the Kerry/Edwards rapid response team in 2004. Gore's chief strategist for his 2000 presidential bid, Carter Eskew, is a founding partner of GPG." 
In May 2007, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers (AAM) launched an ad campaign "to stoke grassroots opposition to a Senate bill that would raise fuel standards for cars and trucks by 10 miles per gallon over the next 10 years," reported The Hill. "The auto group plans to spend at least $1 million on the ad buy, a spokesman said. ... Fuel mileage standards for automobiles are currently set at 27.5 miles per gallon, and have not been raised since 1990." 
The Glover Park Group designed the "series of radio spots and print ads" for AAM, which "will run in 10 states," reported AdWeek. The ads claimed that the Senate bill "would make drivers less safe because automakers would have to build smaller cars in order to conform to the mandate." 
- Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers
- Alliance for Climate Protection, Al Gore's climate change advocacy group that launched a $300 million marketing campaign in April 2008 
- American Family Voices, attacking the Bush administration and Securities and Exchange Commission over Harken Energy and other business scandals
- American Osteopathic Association
- American Postal Workers Union
- Apple Inc
- Bring Back the Gulf Coalition 
- Campaign for Women's Lives
- Coca-Cola, on "climate change, trade and assorted industry issues." 
- Committee to Modernize Voter Registration
- Common Core State Standards Initiative
- Churchill Downs, Inc.
- DIRECTV 
- Fannie Mae
- Fuels America coalition
- Miramax Film Corp, for Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11
- Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network
- NARAL Pro-Choice America
- National Air Traffic Controllers Association 
- The National Security and Climate Change Project 
- Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation
- Pfizer pharmaceuticals
- Project Billboard, in its fight against Clear Channel Communications over an anti-war billboard on the Marriott Marquis Hotel in Times Square during the Republican National Convention 2004
- Smirnoff Vodka
- Society for Human Resource Management
- Taiwan, "to push the US to sign a free-trade agreement with Taipei," according to the Taipei Times 
- United Federation of Teachers
- United For Medical Research
- UnitedHealth Group
- U.S. Leadership Coalition
- United States Telecom Association
- Verizon Wireless
- World Malaria Day
As of February 2013:
- Matthew Beck
- Arik Ben-Zvi
- Jason Boxt
- Khristyn Brimmeier
- Susan Brophy, former deputy assistant to President Clinton
- David Cantor
- Joseph Caruso
- Ryan Cunningham
- Elizabeth Engel
- Carter Eskew
- Michael Feldman
- Leslie Freeman
- Jon Gans
- Brian Gaston
- Brian Gluckman
- Ben Hammer
- Samuel Hiersteiner
- Craig James
- Kim James
- Joel Johnson
- Jack Krumholtz
- Josh Lahey
- Grant Leslie
- Joe Lockhart
- Jennifer Loven
- Matt Mandel
- Cara Mcvie
- Jason Miner
- Alex Mistri
- Jenny Murphy
- Dee Dee Myers
- John Myers
- Brett O'brien
- Amy Phee
- Catharine Cyr Ransom
- Christina Reynolds
- Gregg Rothschild
- Dagny Scott
- Chip Smith
- Keely Smith
- Michele Soho
- Beth Tritter
- Audrey Waters
- Steven Weber
- Scott Weier
- Morna Willens
- Lisa Wolford
Other Personnel and Former Staff
- Kristine Fitton
- Gigi Georges
- Kevin Madden - previously served as national press secretary and senior communications strategist for Governor Mitt Romney's 2008 presidential campaign, as press secretary to Republican Congressman John Boehner and as a campaign spokesperson for Bush-Cheney '04 Inc. 
- Lorrie McHugh-Wytkind
- Howard Wolfson
1025 F Street NW, 9th Floor
Washington, DC 20004-1409
Phone: 202 337 0808
Fax: 202 337 9137
New York, NY
121 East 24th Street, 10th Floor
New York, NY 10010
Phone: 202 337 0808
Fax: 202 337 9137
Resources and Articles
Featured SourceWatch Articles on Fix the Debt
- Fix the Debt Portal Page
- Fix the Debt's Leadership
- Fix the Debt's Partner Groups
- Fix the Debt's State Chapters
- Fix the Debt's Lobbyists
- Fix the Debt's Parent Group
- Fix the Debt's Corporations
- Pete Peterson
- Peter G. Peterson Foundation
- America Speaks
- Simpson-Bowles Commission
- Erskine Bowles
- Alan Simpson
- Social Security
Other Related SourceWatch Articles
- Dewey Square Group
- Don't Count Us Out
- Grocery Manufacturers Association
- Grassroots Enterprise, Inc.
- Public relations firms
- "Gore, Clinton Vets set up shop", O'Dwyer's PR Daily, June 15, 2001.
- "Whitman delivers goods, 'Second Coming' of Clinton", O'Dwyer's PR Daily, August 1, 2001.
- "No brands, please", O'Dwyer's PR Daily, October 17, 2001. (Sub req'd)
- "Smirnoff starts on 'Sat. Night Live'", O'Dwyer's PR Daily, December 14, 2001.
- "Lockhart lobbies for USS", O'Dwyer's PR Daily, January 21, 2002.
- "Glover Park Group shows Bush, Cheney, Pitt as 'Foxes'", O'Dwyer's PR Daily, July 10, 2002.
- "Glover taps Clinton Aide", O'Dwyer's PR Daily, February 5, 2003.
- "Miramax hires Glover Park Group", O'Dwyer's PR Daily, May 7, 2004.
- Raymond Hernandez and Stuart Elliott, "The Odd Couple vs. Nielsen," New York Times, June 13, 2004.
- "GPG vs Clear Channel", O'Dwyer's PR Daily, July 12, 2004.
- "Lockhart Advises Kerry", O'Dwyer's PR Daily, August 24, 2004.
- Jeffrey H. Birnbaum, "Lobbyists Take Leave to Advise Kerry Campaign," Washington Post, September 8, 2004.
- Anita Chabria, "Glover Park Group case study causes controversy," PR Week (sub. req'd.), April 27, 2005.
- "Pfizer Taps Glover Park," O'Dwyer's PR Daily (sub req'd), January 25, 2007.
- Steve Miller, "AAM Fights Mileage Mandates," AdWeek, May 25, 2007.
- Nikki Finke, "Writers And Producers Tried To Hire J-Lo," Deadline Hollywood Daily, November 28, 2007.
- Eamon Javers, HRC Colombia ties don't stop with Penn, Politico.com, April 8, 2008.
- Glover Park Group, "The Approach", organizational website, accessed February 2013
- Glover Park Group "Our Team: Kevin Madden", organizational website, accessed January 2009, saved at www.web.archive.org
- Kevin McCauley, "WPP Acquires Glover Park Group", O'Dywer's, November 29, 2011
- DCI Group lobbied for Morgan Stanley on tax issues in 2006 and 2007, and in 2012 has lobbied for Verizon and ExxonMobil. Senate lobbying records.
- Glover Park Group has lobbied in 2012 for Visa, Inc., on tax issues. It has also lobbied for DuPont, Exelon, General Electric, JP Morgan Chase, Lockheed Martin, News Corporation, Pfizer, Sodexho, UnitedHealth Group and other corporations that would get tax breaks under Fix the Debt’s initiatives, and for the American Bankers Association and PhRMA. Senate lobbying records.
- Dewey Square Group has lobbied for AT&T, Citigroup and Visa. Senate lobbying records.
- DCI Group, Lobbying Report, filed with U.S. Congress on behalf of client Morgan Stanley, July 1 - December 31, 2006.
- DCI Group, Lobbying Report, filed with U.S. Congress on behalf of client Morgan Stanley, January 1 - June 30, 2007.
- Virgil Dickson, Burson's Proof unit launches Fix the Debt ad campaign (sub. req'd.), PR Week, November 16, 2012.
- Melanie Mason, Fix the Debt hits the airwaves to influence 'fiscal cliff', LA Times, December 14, 2012.
- Top CEO Is Go-Between in 'Fiscal Cliff' Talks, Wall Street Journal video, December 14, 2012.
- Sarah Anderson and Scott Klinger, Institute for Policy Studies, A Pension Deficit Disorder: The Massive CEO Retirement Funds and Underfunded Worker Pensions at Firms Pushing Social Security Cuts, organizational report, November 27, 2012.
- Citizens for Tax Justice, Corporate Taxpayers & Corporate Tax Dodgers, 2008-2010, organizational report, November 3, 2011.
- Anna Palmer and Kate Brannen, The big business of the fiscal cliff, Politico, December 5, 2012.
- Glover Park Group, "Solutions", organizational website, accessed October 2004, saved at www.web.archive.org
- Raymond Hernandez and Stuart Elliott, "ADVERTISING; The Odd Couple vs. Nielsen", The New York Times, June 14, 2004.
- Anna Palmer, "Beating Up on Ethanol: Glover Park Helps Frame the Debate," Roll Call, May 14, 2008.
- Eamon Javers, "HRC Colombia ties don't stop with Penn", Politico, April 7, 2008
- "Exhibit B; Registration Statement Pursuant to the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938, as amended", March 23, 2005, page 1.
- "Glover Backs Gore Climate Push," O'Dwyer's PR Daily (sub req'd), March 31, 2008.
- "Auto group to attack fuel-mileage standards," The Hill, May 25, 2007.
- Steve Miller, "AAM Fights Mileage Mandates," Brandweek, May 25, 2007.
- Glover Park Group, "The Work", organizational website, accessed February 2013
- O'Dwyer's, "Smirnoff Stars on 'Sat. Night Live'", December 14, 2011
- Steve Miller, [http://www.adweek.com/news/advertising/aam-fights-mileage-mandates-89119 "AAM Fights Mileage Mandates", Adweek, May 25, 2007
- O'Dwyer's [http://www.odwyerpr.com/members/archived_stories_2002/july/0710glover.htm "Glover Park Group Shows Bush, Cheney, Pitt as 'Foxes'", July 10, 2002
- Kevin McCauley, "Glover Park Shines Apple Inc.", O'Dywer's, December 27, 2012
- Glover Park Group memorandum to Scott Faber, Grocery Manufacturers Association regarding GMA's "Food and Fuel Campaign RFP," March 6, 2008.
- "Coke Grabs Glover Park," O'Dwyer's PR Daily (sub req'd), September 22, 2008.
- Susan Davis, Clinton Aide Met on Trade Deal: Penn Held Talks On Colombia Pact Opposed by Senator", Wall Street Journal, April 4, 2008; Page A3.
- Kevin McCauley, "Churchill Downs Bets on Glover Park", O'Dwyer's, March 18, 2011
- Kevin McCauley, "Facebook Likes Glover", O'Dywer's, February 7, 2012
- Kevin McCauley, "Ethanol Powers Glover Park", O'Dywer's, November 8, 2012
- Kevin McCauley, "Kellogg Hires Golver Park", O'Dywer's, October 20, 2011
- Kevin McCauley, "Macedonia Names Glover Park", O'Dywer's, January 19, 2012
- O'Dwyer's, "Miramax Hires Glover Park Group", May 7, 2004
- Kevin McCauley, "GPG Reps Nigeria", O'Dywer's, August 6, 2012
- O'Dywer's, "GPG vs. Glear Channel", July 12, 2004
- Kevin McCauley, "Glover Park Hired to Fend Off Foreign Aid, Public Diplomacy Cuts", O'Dywer's, November 17, 2010
- Glover Park Group, "Our Team", organizational website, accessed February 2013
- "Romney's Press Secretary to Join Glover Park," Holmes Report, June 22, 2008.