Anne Wexler

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Anne Wexler is the Chairman of the Executive Committee of Wexler and Walker Public Policy Associates, a subsidiary of Hill & Knowlton.

History

According to her biographical note, Wexler was Assistant to President Jimmy Carter for Public Liaison. After Carter lost office in 1981, Wexler founded Wexler, Reynolds, Fuller, Harrison, and Schule, the forerunner to Wexler and Walker.

"Ms. Wexler received a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from Skidmore College. Skidmore also awarded her both the Outstanding Alumni Award in 1972 and the Most Distinguished Alumni Award in 1984. She holds an Honorary Doctor of Laws from Skidmore College and an Honorary Doctor of Science in Business Administration from Bryant College," her bio note states.[1]

"In 1989, Ms. Wexler received the Bryce Harlow Award, presented annually to the government relations professional who represents the highest standards of integrity and excellence embodied by Bryce Harlow, a respected Washington government relations representative," her biographical note states.

Wexler - who is close to the Democratic Party - "served as a senior advisor to the Clinton/Gore Transition Team."

In 1997, the National Foreign Trade Council hired Wexler to help in a campaign to persuade the Clinton administration to refrain from increased reliance on sanctions against odious regimes, such as Burma. [2] A series of leaked internal memos from The Wexler Group - as it was then known - revealed the strategy used by the company and their busines coalition - USA Engage - in an attempt to blunt calls for the use of sanctions. (See Wexler and Walker Public Policy Associates for the details published by Mother Jones).

One 1997 memo from the Wexler Group obtained by Mother Jones, included Anne Wexler's sheet recording incoming messages from one day. The call sheet revealed calls from corporate clients and the minority chief of staff for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. [3]

Speaking at a seminar attended by approximately held the newly elected Congressional members in late 2000, Wexler suggested that Republicans should expect to be consulted by the incoming Bush administration on any appointees from their district. "The last thing you want is the White House appointing the campaign manager of your primary opponent to a plum job," she explained.

The seminar - organised by the Kennedy School of Government - was attended by a journalist for the school's newspaper, The Citizen. As for the Democrats, Fank Micciche reported, she suggested they let Bush know that if they helped him with a key vote on an issue in the narrowly Republican legislature, that they expect to be rewarded.[4]

In February 2002, Comcast Corporation - a cable TV company that hold approximately one-quarter of the market - appointed Wexler as "its senior Washington advisor in connection with the company's merger with AT&T Broadband. Wexler will lead the representation of the company in its relationships with the legislative and executive branches and counseling the company on key public policy matters during the transitional period leading up to the merger." [5]

According to the Comcast statement, Wexler had "been a trusted counselor to Comcast since 1990" was to spend half her time working for Comcast. According to Comcast filings with the Secuties and Exchange Commission, Wexler had been a director of the company since 1995.

In late 2002 Wexler retired as a Director after the merger of Comcast with AT&T. A Philadelphia Inquirer report stated that Comcast was looking for someone under 70 years old to join the board. [6]

As of February 2004, Wexler is a registered lobbyist with the US Senate Office of Public Records for American Airlines, the American-Australian Free Trade Agreement Coalition, ChoicePoint, Comcast Corporation, Evergreen International Airlines, General Motors Corporation, the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, and Nuance Global Trades. [7]

Wexler has been listed as one of the most powerful women in the Washington, D.C. US by The Washingtonian.[8]

Wexler and MTBE

Methanex, is a Vancouver-based company that is the world's largest producer and marketer of methanol with a turn over of just over U.S$1 billion in 2002. It has projects in Canada, Trinidad, New Zealand and Chile.

A quarter of the global demand for methanol was for MTBE for use as a source of octane in petrol. Of total MTBE demand - half - or 2.5 million tonnes a year demand of methanol equivalent - was in the US with an estimated 1.3 million of that in California alone.

The Californian government responded to public concern over studies showing that MTBE may cause cancer and other health problems as a result of it leaking from cars, boats and underground storage tanks into water sources. Both California and New York state have now passed legislation banning the sale of gasoline containing MTBE from January 1, 2004. The Federal government too, began to consider restrictions on MTBE. For Methanex, the stakes over MTBE were high. [9][10]

In January 2001, Wexler was appointed a Director of the Methanex Corporation. [11] Wexler is also Chair of Methanex's Public Policy Committee which "is responsible for government relations, social investment and public affairs issues that impact significantly on the Company".

While the committee only met twice in 2002, one of the high priority issues for the company is the controversy over MTBE. According to its annual report, Methanex "worked diligently with other industry participants to bring out the facts about this important fuel additive. Some progress has been made and broad-based legislation to ban the product has been avoided so far. We will continue to be relentless in promoting the merits of MTBE and help keep this product in commerce."[12]

Part of Methanex's "diligent work" has been pursuing a legal action - commenced in June 1999 - against the US government over what it claimed was a breach of the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between Canada and the US.

Methanex claimed that a Californian ban on the use or sale in California of the gasoline additive MTBE constituted an appropriation of part of its investments and was therefore entitled to damages of $1 billion.

In July 2002, the NAFTA panel issued a complex ruling which stated that while Methanex had not proved that the decision by the Californian government aimed to discrimate against foreign producers, it could continue the case if it submitted an amended statements of claim. [13][14]

Methanex has continued the case, with the most recentl filing of documents on January 30, 2004. [15]

Despite Methanex's best efforts, the decline of MTBE in the US is irreversible. However, as with the US tobacco industry, constraints domestically can be offset by overseas sales. In its 2002 annual report Methanex notes with relief that the MTBE story in the rest of the world "is quite different from the politically charged debate in the United States … demand growth for MTBE in other parts of the world, coupled with the traditional, steady non-MTBE growth, will make the issue of MTBE in the US a manageable one for the methanol industry".

Wexler and US Australia free trade agreement

Wexler was the Chairman of the American-Australian Free Trade Agreement Coalition, a corporate lobby group promoting a free trade agreement between the two countries. [16] [17] (The agreement is known as the United States-Australia Free Trade Agreement in the US while in Australia it is known as the Australia-United States Free Trade Agreement).

"Let me just say that there's not going to be a trade agreement if it doesn't benefit both sides. It may be that there's a great deal of political will, but the political will has to be accompanied by a good political outcome for both Australia and the United States and without that that won't happen … I think it's pretty certain that even with the strong lobbying on the part of some people who will oppose it, that it will pass,"Wexler told ABC radio. [18]

However, at the conclusion of negotiations, it was US corporate lobbying muscle that won out. Without making any major concessions for access to the US sugar, beef or dairy markets, US industry won sweeping reforms for Australian pharmaceutical policy, the virtual abolition of controls on foreign investment and support for market-based environmental policies. [19]

In 2002, Wexler was made an honorary member of the Order of Australia.

Affiliations

Wexler

  • a member of the Boards of the Washington Economic Club;
  • a member of the Board of the Washington Educational Television Association (WETA), the leading public broadcasting station in the nation's capital, serving Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia;
  • In December 2001 Wexler was appointed to the Board of Directors of The Media Insitute.[20]. According to the groups webiste it is "a nonprofit research foundation specializing in communications policy and the First Amendment". [21]
  • is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and, in 2003, was a member of the Nominating and Governance Committee.[22]

External links