Sunday, February 3, 2013

Walkergate: APCO Worldwide

A couple of days ago, I reported that Scott Walker has spent a half a million dollars on his legal defense, either on himself or on his campaign.  That sure is a helluva lot of cooperating for a supposedly innocent man.

As I mentioned, a wee fraction of that half a million, only $10,000 of it, went to a PR agency called APCO Worldwide:
I would be remiss if I didn't also point out that he dropped another $10,000 on a public relations firm:
Gov. Scott Walker used almost $10,000 of his controversial legal defense fund to pay a public relations bill, according to a quarterly report filed with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service.

According to the report, the Scott Walker Trust paid $9,988 for "public relations" on May 15 to Chicago-based APCO Worldwide Inc.

"This doesn't seem to square with what the governor said he needed that money for," said Mike McCabe, executive director of Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, the election watchdog organization that first reported the filing. "He said over and over, he just needed to pay lawyers to help him with the investigation."

Reid Magney, a spokesman for the Government Accountability Board, said the agency cannot comment on specific expenditures and referred to state law, which says political candidates or officials "investigated for, charged with or convicted of a criminal violation" can create a defense fund "for expenditures supporting or defending the candidate."
Note that like one of his high-priced attorneys, the PR firm came out of Illinois. Apparently all the PR firms in Wisconsin were either already involved in Walkergate or wouldn't touch Walker's toxicity for any amount of money.
It appears that I owe the gentle reader an apology.

Working on a tip, I learned that APCO Worldwide is actually based in Washington, D.C., but Walker worked with their Illinois office. Actually, the firm has more than 600 employees in 29 countries. They also have a special program they call "Crisis360," which is like an emergency damage control team.

As the gentle reader probably already surmised, this firm is no small potatoes.

They are also not without controversy.

APCO Worldwide's specialty is manipulating public opinion and influencing decision-makers in both the private and public sectors. To meet their goal, they will find some "expert" to write supporting pieces, whether it is true or not.

As APCO Worldwide puts it:
APCO Associates, Inc. (APCO) specializes in grassroots organizing and coalition building. We use political campaign tactics to create an environment in support of our client's legislative and regulatory goals...We utilize the most effective, up-to-date technology and campaign tactics to help you achieve your legislative and regulatory goals...APCO has built numerous national and state coalitions on a variety of issues including the environment, science, energy, trade, intellectual property, education, tort reform and health care....APCO applies tactics usually reserved for political campaigns to target audiences and recruit third-party advocates. Our staff has the political field experience and has written the direct mail, managed the telephones, crafted the television commercials and trained the grassroots volunteers. We apply these hard-learned skills and tactics to mobilize hundreds, even thousands, of constituents. Or,when just the "grasstops" are needed, we recruit just a few of a target's key friends or contributors to join us. No matter the issue, we bring together coalitions that are credible, persuasive and cost-effective.
The best example of the type of work they do comes from Sourcewatch, and is when they were hired by Phillip Morris to first fight the ruling that second-hand smoke was related to cancer. They also worked with Phillip Morris to work on tort reform, much like the kind passed in Fitzwalkerstan two years ago.

Another example comes from Wikipedia, with all the usual caveats with anything like that:
In 2010, APCO was involved in the controversial recommendation to fire Mark Hurd, the CEO of HP.[11] Kent Jarrell, a senior vice president, wrote a mock news story which he showed to HP's board. During this same meeting, he contemplated that HP would negatively be affected by bad press of its CEO being involved in an inappropriate relationship with an ex-soft porn actress, Jodie Fisher
Now this firm's services don't come cheap. Sourcewatch cited that they were paid more than $52,000 for arranging for John Hopkins University to author three reports supporting the position of their client. It should be noted that that price tag is for only two out of the three.

Now back to Walker and Walkergate.

It would be pretty safe to presume that Walker hired APCO Worldwide to help with forming public opinion of the ongoing and growing scandal.

But it does make one wonder exactly how they would do this. Was it the line about all the emails and texts being just part of "routine business?" Was it on how to throw Tim Russell under the bus and try to make him the scapegoat?  Was it how to dismiss the secret router story? Or was it how to do a perp walk in a dignified manner?

Thoughts, anyone?


  1. Ok....Why does Scooter need a high power PR damage control team if there was no damage and nothing to control? The 10k sounds like a retainer....just in case.

  2. I would guess that APCO is the group that is doing the online petition in support of Gov. Walker and ACT 10. The petition says in part that it is liberal Dane county judges that are trying to overturn ACT 10.

  3. Even tho it started on 9/20/12 it is still out there. A "friend" posted it on FB about a week ago.

  4. They told him to FB post his every action. Ham and Rolls today after church. Problem is - ever time he does this - he divides people even more. Incredible hate on both sides seen in his FB posts.

  5. Say What - don't be surprised at the divisiveness about the the ridiculous posts Scooter makes. It's all intentional.

    But Capper, I think there's more to be dug up with this group and what their self-described "tactics" really include.

    This is very, very interesting - and could be really juicy. Let's stay closely tuned in on these peeps.

    Nice job, Caps!

  6. you are really reaching and avoiding the biggest issue of all -- IF THE REPUBLICAN PARTY IS A CRIMINAL ENTERPRISE, CAN OUR LEGAL SYSTEM DEAL WITH IT.

    We have no legal recourse if an illegitimate government hijacks the legislative agenda and conducts environmental and economic terrorism against the citizens it has a duty to serve. You gloat too much about john doe -- you must have loved Fitzmas too.

    There are real issues and legitimate questions whether scott walker will even have to answer questions about the criminality behind his ascent to power, much less be held responsible for them.

    This is really another nonsense post -- throw people red meat if you must, but the dialog is deteriorating.

    1. You will have to excuse me if I don't share your Chicken Little attitude. Or perhaps your a concern troll trying to cast doubt upon the whole process.

      Either way, you'll find little solace here.

      The legals system has handled things just as big, if not bigger.

      The thing that I want to know is if you're so convinced that the DA's office is not up to the job, what is your solution?

    2. Also, if you say "Fitzmas" here in Wisconsin, most people think you are referring to the one of the state senators and don't get that you are talking about Valerie Plame, etc.

      I don't really see what a blogger is supposed to do about a criminal enterprise, but that is just my opinion. I think that is a matter for the legal system.

  7. APCO and Scott Walker? Here is what Wendell Potter had to say about APCO's role in fighting meaningful health care reform.

    Guernica: Let’s talk about these contentious town hall meetings. What role, if any, does the industry play in causing the disruptive, or what Senator Claire McCaskill called “rude” behavior?

    Wendell Potter: One of the big PR firms [for] the insurance industry is APCO Worldwide. They’ve represented the industry for quite a long time. They’re skilled at setting up front groups to spread disinformation to challenge proposals. So they will get talking points into the hands of conservative radio talk show hosts and editorial writers at conservative publications. It all comes from the health insurance industry, but they spread this stuff in such a way that their fingerprints are not directly on it. A guy named Bill Pierce works for APCO; he is an executive there. He used to work as a spokesman for Blue Cross Blue Shield and the Bush Administration. So if you called the number for Healthcare America, you would be connected with Bill Pierce’s office at APCO… The tragic thing about these town hall meetings is how some of these angry citizens are being manipulated. When you see these stories about the meetings and how the participants are so concerned about government takeover of our healthcare system, they use the very words that were fed to them by the health insurance industry, not realizing that that’s where they came from, not realizing that they are unwitting pawns of the industry. Because they hear that stuff from people they believe are credible, like Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck.

    Not that anything like this would be a bad thing...

    Guernica: What are the chances that the industry is actually busing people in to disrupt the meetings?

    Wendell Potter: I think indirectly they are. APCO and other PR firms do stuff like that. It would be hard to trace it directly because they go through a lot of trouble to funnel the money in ways that it’s not directly traceable to them. When I say money, of course we’re talking about insurance premiums that people pay, and it’s being used for these purposes.

    Guernica: So you’re saying these PR firms could potentially be sticking people on buses and sending them to these town hall meetings in order to disrupt them?

    Wendell Potter: Yeah, they know where to go, what kind of organizations to turn to to get that kind of stuff done. There’s no doubt about it. On the other hand, I’m sure there are individuals who show up at these meetings who show up on their own and feel like they need to make sure their voices are heard… But other people there are very orchestrated.

    1. Yep. They get idiots and authoritarian followers like Teabilly Kim Simac to "ride the bus" with HER authoritarian followers.

  8. this is really disgusting and certainly explains a lot about what is wrong and who is being used to profit individuals and corporations

  9. A10:27, thanks very much.

  10. I think APCO arranged Walker's sudden emergence as an Op Ed writer in some major publications. This is standard PR work. Aside from that, they are probably monitoring social media.

    $10,000 is not a lot of money. APCO will get much more once the indictment comes and they get to work poisoning the prospective jury pool. They do have a unit that deals with jury selection in civil suits against corporations, tobacco companies for instance.

    I think anything that would appear especially nefarious and potentially embarrassing to Walker, such as rent-a-mobs, would be covered by a third party such as the Cline Mining Group or the the Kochs, or some other concerned corporate bandits.

    1. is the rent-a-mob position the one that CRG fills for scott walker?

    2. $10,000 we know about and that was used up with thw first 4 calls to major media "Commentary" editors. There are so many ways for other Walker supporters to funnel cash into necessary operations to keep Walker afloat politicaly and financially. The glue that holds republican together now is cash tit for tat (although they prefer doling out taxpayer money like the millions from the House to fight DOMA). Palli

  11. Let's stop being politically correct. Spokes-people and PR firms are paid, professional liars. Why else would you need to hire someone to speak for you?