Lauri J. Fitz-Pegado
Lauri J. Fitz-Pegado is a partner at The Livingston Group, a lobbying and public relations firm founded by former Congressman Robert Livingston. Fitz-Pegado is best known for her role in the Hill & Knowlton PR firm's deceptive PR campaign under the name Citizens for a Free Kuwait to promote Operation Desert Storm on behalf of the government of Kuwait. 
In the fall of 2003, Fitz-Pegado helped promote Livingston Group colleague Mohammed Odeh al-Rehaief's book Because Each Life Is Precious: Why an Iraqi Man Came to Risk Everything for Pvt. Jessica Lynch. According to some reports, al-Rehaief told U.S. Marines the location of the captured Pfc. Jessica Lynch.
According to her Livingston Group bio, Fitz-Pegado's clients include the "Governments of Azerbaijan, Egypt and the Republic of Congo; SASOL, the world’s largest synthetic fuels company based in South Africa; the Bank of the Netherlands Antilles, Apex Mining, Case Western Reserve University, the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges (NASULGC), and the Investment Company Institute." 
Citizens for a Free Kuwait
A graduate of Vassar College and the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at Johns Hopkins University, Fitz-Pegado worked as a Foreign Service Officer with the U.S. Information Agency. In 1982, she went to work for Gray and Co., a PR firm owned by prominent Republican PR executive Robert Keith Gray. After Gray and Co. was sold to the Hill and Knowlton PR firm in 1986, Fitz-Pegado became a vice president at H&K. Following the invasion and occupation of Kuwait by Iraq in August 1990, the Kuwaiti government-in-exile hired Hill & Knowlton to lead a PR campaign in support of military action by the United States aimed at recapturing the country. H&K established Citizens for a Free Kuwait, a front group for the government-in-exile. Over the next six months, the Kuwaiti government channeled $11.9 million dollars to Citizens for a Free Kuwait, whose only other funding totalled $17,861 from 78 individuals. Virtually all of CFK's budget - $10.8 million - went to Hill & Knowlton in the form of fees.
John MacArthur, the author of Second Front: Censorship and Propaganda in the Gulf War, describes some of the activities of this PR campaign: "The H&K team, headed by former U.S. Information Agency officer Lauri J. Fitz-Pegado, organized a Kuwait Information Day on 20 college campuses on September 12. On Sunday, September 23, churches nationwide observed a national day of prayer for Kuwait. The next day, 13 state governors declared a national Free Kuwait Day. H&K distributed tens of thousands of Free Kuwait bumper stickers and T-shirts, as well as thousands of media kits extolling the alleged virtues of Kuwaiti society and history. Fitz-Pegado's crack press agents put together media events featuring Kuwaiti 'resistance fighters' and businessmen and arranged meetings with newspaper editorial boards. H&K's Lew Allison, a former CBS and NBC News producer, created 24 video news releases from the Middle East, some of which purported to depict life in Kuwait under the Iraqi boot. The Wirthlin Group was engaged by H&K to study TV audience reaction to statements on the Gulf crisis by President George W. Bush and Kuwaiti officials."
The most notorious event in the PR campaign occurred when a 15-year-old girl named Nayirah gave testimony before an unofficial group of congressmen called the Congressional Human Rights Caucus, claiming that Iraqi troops had murdered scores of premature infants in Kuwait hospitals by removing them from incubators and leaving them to die on the cold hospital floor. At the conclusion of Operation Desert Storm, journalists and human rights investigators interviewed medical staff in Kuwaiti hospitals and concluded that this testimony was false.
Following the Bush Administration's electoral loss to Bill Clinton in 1992, Fitz-Pegado became Director for Public Liaison for the Clinton/Gore Presidential Inaugural Committee and then became an advisor on international issues to Ron Brown, Clinton's commerce secretary, followed by a stint as Assistant Secretary and Director General of the US and Foreign Commercial Service at the Department of Commerce.
Upon leaving her government post in 1997, Fitz-Pegado became a vice president at Iridium LLC, a satellite phone company that went bankrupt a few years later. She then started her own consulting/PR firm, Fitz-Pegado International, with clients including the government of Egypt, the Pan African New Agency Press and the American Business Women's Alliance. During this time, Fitz-Pegado worked in partnership with DCI Group, Livingston Moffett Global Consulting, PA Consulting, The Horizon Group, and Hill & Knowlton. She joined the high-powered Washington lobby firm The Livingston Group as a principal of the Livingston Moffett International Group Practice in May 2003. She also is responsible for the Livingston Group's external communication and media relations.  According to Washington Representatives, Fitz-Pegado represented Tefen Yazamot, L.T.D. of Israel Israeli firm.
Fitz-Pegado is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. She serves as a board member or an advisory board member for the National Education Association Foundation for the Improvement of Education, Constituency for Africa, The Women's Foreign Policy Group, the United Negro College Fund's Institute for International Public Policy, The Ronald H. Brown Foundation and the American and African Business Women's Alliance. 
The Livingston Group, LLC
499 S. Capitol St. SW, Suite 600
Washington, DC 20003
Articles and resources
Related SourceWatch articles
- "Team bios: Lauri Fitz-Pegado," The Livingston Group, accessed October 2008.
- "Iranian Exile Group Pays $$$ to Livingston," O'Dwyer's PR Daily (sub req'd), October 22, 2008.
- Trustees, CHF International, accessed December 19, 2010.