Creative Response Concepts

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Creative Response Concepts, an Alexandria, Virginia-based public relations firm, "has many links to the Republican Party and the conservative movement," Eric Boehlert wrote September 10, 2004, in Salon.

"Among its clients are the Republican National Committee, National Republican Congressional Committee and National Republican Senatorial Committee. Its client list also includes the Christian Coalition, National Taxpayers Union, Media Research Council [sic] and Regnery Publishing. Regnery is the firm that published Unfit for Command, the SBVT screed against [John] Kerry's military record," Boehlert wrote.

"Interview requests for CRC's clients are routed through the main switchboard at a single telephone number; extensions 108 and 110 at the same number handle Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, while extensions 109 and 130 are for the Judicial Confirmation Network," Todd Johnston wrote July 5, 2005, in ePluribus Media.

CPR and Rick Scott

Rick Scott is a multimillionaire former hospital CEO who, in 2009, emerged as a prominent leader of the opposition to U.S. President Barack Obama's healthcare reform plans. Scott founded a group called Conservatives for Patients' Rights and put $5 million of his own money towards a television advertising campaign aimed at trying to build resistance to any proposal for a government-run health insurance program. Creative Response Concepts is running the campaign.[citation needed]

IndyMac Bank and Charles Schumer

In August 2008, former employees of the failed California IndyMac Bank began working with Creative Response Concepts (CRC), in an attempt to hold Senator Charles Schumer responsible for the bank's collapse. Schumer, who chairs Congress' Joint Economic Committee, went public with his concerns about the bank on June 26, 2008. His negative assessments of IndyMac led to a run on the bank, "with depositors taking out a net $1.3 billion in the following two weeks," according to the Los Angeles Times. With help from CRC, 51 former IndyMac employees are accusing Schumer of "a malicious, politically motivated act." CRC circulated a letter from the employees to California Attorney General Jerry Brown to major media. "The letter, signed mostly by former staffers at IndyMac's now-shuttered mortgage operation, asks Brown to investigate Schumer and to prosecute him under a state law making it a misdemeanor to spread false and damaging statements or rumors about a bank." [1]

Swift Boat Veterans for Truth & CBS

PR Week reported on September 20, 2004: "Creative Response Concepts (CRC), the VA-based agency promoting the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, used right-wing blogs and news sites to turn a CBS report casting doubt on President George W. Bush's National Guard service into a potential black eye for both the network and the Democrats. A CRC client, the Cybercast News Service (CNS), was among the first to voice suspicion that documents suggesting Bush had received preferential treatment in the Guard were forgeries. ... 'After the CBS story aired, [CNS] called typographical experts, got them on the record that these papers were fishy, and posted a story by 3pm Thursday,' said CRC SVP Keith Appell. 'We were immediately in contact with Matt Drudge, who loved the story.' CRC worked with CNS and the Media Research Center, another media watchdog client, to push the story into the mainstream press." [1]

CRC "was paid $165,000 for repping both the Swift vets and the conservative book company Regnery Publishing, which issued a tome about Kerry's military service, Unfit for Command," William Triplet wrote in Variety, February 5, 2006.

CRC, "run by former Pat Buchanan communications director Greg Mueller, with help from former Pat Robertson communications director Mike Russell, sent out a media advisory [September 9, 2004] to hawk a right-wing news dispatch: '60 Minutes' Documents on Bush Might Be Fake.' Creative Response Concepts has played a crucial role in hyping the inaccurate, secondhand Swift Boat allegations, with Russell serving as the group's official spokesman. A company spokesman could not be reached for comment," Eric Boehlert wrote September 10, 2004, in Salon.

"That was just one day after the '60 Minutes' installment aired," Boehlert said.

Alito Confirmation Hearings

During the January 2006 U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee's confirmation hearings on Supreme Court nominee Samuel A. Alito, Jr., his wife, Martha-Ann Bomgardner, left the hearing in tears. (She left as Senator Lindsey Graham was apologizing for Democratic Senators' questions about Mr. Alito's membership in the ultra-conservative group Concerned Alumni of Princeton.) Time magazine reported that, following this incident: [2]

The always-alert Creative Response Concepts, a conservative public relations firm, sent this bulletin: "Former Alito clerk Gary Rubman witnessed Mrs. Alito leaving her husband's confirmation in tears and is available for interviews, along with other former Alito clerks who know her personally and are very upset about this development." In case that was too much trouble for the journalists, the firm also e-mailed out a statement from the Judicial Confirmation Network calling "for the abuse to stop."

Romancing Viewers for Stone

In July 2006, O'Dwyer's PR Daily reported that "Viacom's Paramount Pictures is using Creative Response Concepts ... to build support among conservatives and evangelicals for Oliver Stone's World Trade Center film that opens nationwide Aug. 9. ... CRC arranged a screening in Washington last month for conservatives such as Washington Times columnist Cal Thomas, National Review's Jack Fowler, Media Research Center head Brent Bozell and Foundation for the Defense of Democracies' Cliff May." [3]

WI Supreme Court Race

The Spring 2007 election for Wisconsin Supreme Court pitted conservative Annette Ziegler against progressive Linda Clifford. On February 23, 2007, Madison reporter Dave Zweifel wrote about a pro-Ziegler pitch "from a public relations flack named Tim Scheiderer." Scheiderer's email stated: [4]

"The court's impact on taxes, employment, health care, and many other areas will be felt by all. Recently, the court has had a propensity to re-create laws rather than enforcing them. This is very problematic for Wisconsin because it turns the law into an unpredictable guessing game and produces no confidence in the judiciary's neutrality."

Scheiderer is a staffer with Creative Response Concepts. "Scheiderer acted surprised when I asked him who was paying his firm," reported Zweifel. "He ducked the question, claiming instead that CRC works closely with the 'Federalist Society,' a group comprised mainly of conservative lawyers, but not known for shelling out money on election campaigns. I asked if they were filing campaign finance reports and, remarkably, he insisted that his clients aren't promoting a candidate, merely providing 'information' about the race. And I've got a bridge to sell." [5]

National Abstinence Education Association

Writing on a reproductive health blog in April 2007, Scott Swenson reported that, "Using membership dues paid in part by federal tax dollars, the National Abstinence Education Association (NAEA) hired the Washington, DC, public relations firm, Creative Response Concepts." [6] On behalf of the NAEA, CRC will be heading a "proactive rapid response initiative to counteract negative attacks on abstinence education," reported O'Dwyer's PR Daily. [7]

Writing on The Nation blog, Richard Kim noted that the formation of NAEA and its hiring of a well-connected conservative PR firm like CRC comes after "a frigid winter for the abstinence-only crowd." The Government Accountability Office criticized the funding of abstinence-only programs without checking their "education materials for scientific accuracy," while the Institute of Medicine faulted abstinence programs in the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief as jeopardizing "the vitally important end of saving lives." [8] In addition, abstinence-only programs "favored by Republicans and their conservative allies have lost momentum with the Democratic takeover of Congress," observed O'Dwyer's, adding: "The Prevention First Act, for instance, introduced by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Rep. Louise Slaughter (D.-N.Y.) backs state level sexual education programs that provide information about abstinence, contraception and disease prevention." [9]

Critics of abstinence-only education warned that the PR work could entail "Swift Boat"-like smear attacks on politicians and groups supporting comprehensive sex education. Swenson wrote, on the "RH Reality Check" blog: [10]

Given CRC's well known track record, as well as an outline of NAEA's plan sent to recruit members and obtained by RH Reality Check, it is a safe assumption that Creative Response Concepts is less likely to promote abstinence only as they are to attack supporters of proven, evidenced-based, comprehensive sexuality education.
Specifically, the membership recruiting letter from NAEA outlines "unlimited legislative lobbying" and mobilization in "key Congressional Districts" as well as a "Rapid Response" initiative that is intended to "counter attack negative attacks on abstinence education". That last part makes one wonder if at one time a memo circulated outlining the Swift Boat ads as "rapid response to negative attacks on George Bush's military record", broadly interpreting "negative" as John Kerry simply discussing his exemplary service in Vietnam.


Income and Employee Totals

PR Week ranked CRC Public Relations as the fiftieth largest independent PR agency in the United States in 2008, with 2007 revenue of $7,604,274, a 24% increase from the previous year's total revenue of $6,117,110. The ranking also notes its staff total of 27 (2006 total: 24), with $281,640 in revenue per employee.[2]


Contact Information

Creative Response Concepts
2760 Eisenhower Ave., Suite 402
Alexandria, VA 22314
Telephone: 703-683-5004
Fax: 703-683-1703

Articles and resources

Related SourceWatch articles


  1. E. Scott Reckard, "Ex-IndyMac workers' complaint against Sen. Charles Schumer may have political undertones," Los Angeles Times, August 16, 2008.
  2. "2008 Agency Rankings," PR Week, 28 April 2008.

External resources

External articles