Lanny Davis: Lobbyist for Despots

On October 2, 2009, Legal Times writer Jeff Jeffrey headlined, “Lanny Davis Leaves Orrick for McDermott Will & Emery,” saying:

Former Clinton White House special counsel “left Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe to join McDermott Will & Emery’s regulatory and government strategies practice.” At Orrick, he “led a rather unusual practice that included litigation….related media strategies, (and) advis(ing) clients on crisis management.”

In fact, he then and now lobbies for despots and predatory corporate clients.

“More recently, (he lobbied) on behalf of Honduran business leaders to convince members of Congress to support the removal of” democratically elected former President Manuel Zelaya.

In June 2009, a Washington orchestrated coup replaced him with the current fascist regime, responsible for reigning terror against human rights activists, pro-democracy groups, campesinos, independent journalists, and others challenging state/oligarch/drug lord power.

Post-coup, The Hill.com reported that the far-right Business Council of Latin America (CEAL) hired Davis to lobby Congress and conduct supportive PR for the interim Micheletti government. It involved a media blitz, arranged meetings for coup plotters with congressional members, and drafting an Accord to form a National Unity and Reconciliation Government as cover to solidify fascist rule. Davis, of course, was well paid to assure it. His credentials don’t include honor, morality, ethics and support for the rule of law.

On December 19, 2008, Legal Times writers, Jeffrey and Mike Scarcella, headlined “New Strategy for Whole Foods in FTC Fight,” saying:

In the high-profile antitrust case, “Whole Foods retained politically savvy lawyer Lanny Davis….to convince power brokers that Whole Foods is not getting a fair shake at the FTC” in its attempt to acquire rival organic grocer Wild Oats. His campaign involved “squeez(ing) the FTC on Capitol Hill through the House and Senate judiciary committees,” Davis saying “you do what you have to do” to subvert antitrust laws or back despots replacing democrats. His credo, in fact, is anything for a buck as long as there’s lots of them.

FTC lawyers tried blocking the merger, but lost attempts at the district and appeals court levels. Nonetheless, they pressed their case after both companies consummated the deal. Davis’ team created a three-pronged, full-court press strategy, involving lawsuits, media blitzes, and hard-nosed Capitol Hill lobbying that ended successfully.

On August 18, 2009, Salon.com contributor, Glenn Greenwald, headlined, “The Lanny Davis disease and America’s health care debate,” saying:

“Davis frequently injects himself into political disputes, masquerading as a ‘political analyst’ and Democratic media pundit, yet is unmoored from any discernible political beliefs other than: ‘I agree with whoever pays me,’ ” the credo of all lobbyists, especially the most disreputable, Davis very much qualifying.

His entire Capitol Hill history is as “consistent as it is sleazy,” the more sleaze, in fact, the more compensation. The hard-right Israel Project hired him to defend Israel’s Cast Lead onslaught against Gaza, calling it Israel’s “right to self-defense against terrorism,” when clearly it was preemptive illegal aggression.

If Davis was just another run-of-the-mill lobbyist “piggishly feeding off our political system,” it would be too commonplace “to bother noting. But (he) parades around as – and is treated by media organizations as being – some sort of political pundit,” when, in fact, he’s a hired gun, backing anyone who’ll pay him.

Calling himself a liberal centrist, he supports big money and repressive governments, defending them by vilifying critics. He “reflects the grime and sleaze” that permeates our political culture in a profession that gives whoring a bad name.

On August 10, 2009, Greg Grandin added more to Davis’ resume, including:

– calling himself a “pro-labor liberal” while lobbying against the Employee Free Choice Act to facilitate union organizing; it never passed;

– in the late 1990s, serving as chief lobbyist for Pakistan’s military dictatorship; under civilian leaders, Pakistan’s government is cover for a military-run country; and

– as Hillary Clinton’s major fundraiser during the 2008 presidential primary, attacking Obama’s association with Rev. Jeremiah Wright for being outspoken against war, other violence, racial hatred, and other social justice issues.

“In retrospect,” said Grandin, “Davis was running through so many lies – they were too focused and polished to be simple mistakes or errors of interpretation – it was hard to catch up.”

His entire career, in fact, amounts to crafting, pressuring, and disseminating lies, spin, and other misinformation supporting systemic evil against good.

In 2002 at Patton Boggs, he was retained to do crisis management, legal, and media advisory work for HealthSouth Corp. and its CEO Richard Scrushy. At the time, he was under investigation for alleged fraudulent accounting and suspect Medicare billing practices. Though acquitted of securities fraud in 2005, he was convicted of bribery in 2006 and sentenced to almost seven years in prison. Davis advised him and HealthSouth for four months, raising questions about some of his tactics.

Specifically, his October 2002 press release said that in Fulbright & Jaworski’s company audit, Scrushy was cleared of allegations that he improperly dumped stock based on inside information. Afterward, F & J partner, Hal Hirsch, said his team didn’t pre-approve the word “cleared.” As a result, Davis had to issue a new press release retracting the first one he thought he could get away with even though untrue.

In spring 2010, Davis left McDermott Will & Emery to form his own firm, Lanny J. Davis & Associates, specializing in “legal crisis communication, media strategy, public advocacy, and political/legislative strategies” for some of the world’s most disreputable despots and corporate predators.

In summer 2010, he signed a $1 million annual contract to represent Equatorial Guinea dictator, Teodoro Obiang Nguerma Mbasogo, one of the world’s most corrupt ones, accused of countless human rights abuses throughout his tenure. Reports said he stashed his country’s oil wealth offshore and rigged elections to assure 95% majorities. Davis joked about it, saying he urged the tyrant to “win by 51% (not) 98%.”

He also lobbies for Martek Biosciences, a company making suspect additives for federally-subsidized infant formula. They include fatty acids known as DHA and ARA, even though advocates for poor women question their use. In response, Davis blitzed Congress with emails accusing opponents of being “lactivists” who want to force women to breast-feed. No level is too low for him to stoop.

His latest controversy involves lobbying for Ivory Coast dictator Laurent Gbagbo. Elected president in 2000, he kept power after his term ended in 2005, and still holds it after his November 2010 election defeat. His intransigence, use of military force, and rumored death squads against opponents pushed Cote d’ivoire toward civil war, its second after 2002 – 04 fighting ended, the government controlling the south and rebels the north.

In March 2007, a peace agreement ended conflict followed by November 2010 elections defeating Gbagbo. Opposition leader Alassane Ouattara’s victory was recognized by the UN, US, EU, African Union, and former colonial power France – everyone, in fact, except Gbagbo.

Reports say terror killings and kidnappings were unleashed against opposition supporters. About 200 or more deaths resulted. After a decade in power, Gbagbo won’t relinquish it, his intransigency risking civil war.

After days defending his work, Davis reversed field and resigned, dropping an account worth a $100,000 a month. His explanation was Gbagbo’s failure to take Obama’s call, not his human rights abuses and massive corruption. In his December 29 letter, he said:

His “mission was not to say who won or who lost the election or who was right or who was wrong, but rather to help resolve this crisis peacefully through dialogue, mediation and with leadership and participation of the international community.”

It was typical Davis boilerplate, suppressing his real role as a hired gun for anyone who’ll pay him, no matter how sleazy. As an establishment figure, he supports wealth and power against popular interests.

On December 30, New York Times writers, Ginger Thompson and Eric Lipton’s, article headlined, “Lobbyist’s Client List Puts Him on the Defensive,” saying:

Davis “built a client list that now includes coup supporters in Honduras, a dictator in Equatorial Guinea, for-profit colleges accused of exploiting students (by aggressive tactics, entrapping them in debt for degrees of dubious value), (and his) agree(ing) to represent” Gbagbo. His frequent role “stoked growing criticism that (he’s) become a kind of front man for the dark side, willing to take on some of the world’s least noble companies and causes.”

In a business noted for disreputable practices, “Mr. Davis’ firm st(ands) out.” California WIC (women, infants & children) Association representative Meredith McGehee said:

“You look at who he represents, and the list is just almost unseemly, tawdry.” Representing agencies that serve poor women with infant children, California WIC lost its battle with Davis, McGehee adding: “It is an illustration of what most of the American people think of as wrong with Washington,” and Davis as one of its most sleazy exponents.

Yet he battles critics by lining up support from State Department officials, congressional members and business contacts to testify how he helped them. He also uses his customary media blitz approach, including making himself available for print and on-air interviews, a technique earning him a reputation as “spinmeister par excellence,” a noted practictioner of distortion, misinformation, and bald-faced lies.

Repeatedly exposed as disreputable, his defense is that:

My credibility is the only thing I have. If I defend people in indefensible, corrupt acts, then I lose everything I have, and I’m just another gun for hire. But when I see that I can help get out the facts, and improve people’s lives, and peacefully resolve conflicts, then I feel an obligation to do so….I am a liberal Democrat. I’ve been (one) all my life. I haven’t changed my values.

Phew! The last refugee of a scoundrel is wrapping disrepute in claimed honor, ethics and principle, never mind being bankrolled by some of the world’s sleaziest  dictators and corporations to do it. Also claiming everyone deserves a voice is baseless, not when claimants murder, steal, and ravage the environment for profit. Even Obama officials say he’s on the wrong side of some fights.

Recently, he’s “come under unusually vociferous attacks (from) a diverse array of (critics) representing everyone from college students and mothers of poor children, to diplomats and international human rights advocates.”

Do I often find myself in a position of disputing facts that are not consistent with easy label,” he asked? “That’s what I do for a living. Controversy is what I do for a living.

In fact, relying on friends in high places, and disseminating client-friendly disinformation makes him one of K Street’s most highly paid lobbyists. In fact, a Twitter profile called him: “Clinton confidant, weathered PR-man and counsel to dictators.” Add to that the epitome of sleaze.

Stephen Lendman wrote How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War. Contact him at: lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. Also visit his blog site and listen to The Global Research News Hour on RepublicBroadcasting.org Mondays from 11AM-1PM US Central time for cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests. All programs are archived for easy listening. Read other articles by Stephen.

7 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. bozh said on January 7th, 2011 at 8:06am #

    lendman:

    “It was typical Davis boilerplate, suppressing his real role as a hired gun for anyone who’ll pay him, no matter how sleazy. As an establishment figure, he supports wealth and power against popular interests.”

    yes, yes, blessed by god and the devil [the odd twosomes] and not to mention even more authorative source: constitution.
    also by w.h., congress, cia-fbi-army echelons, judiciary, large shareholders.

    not by hobos, homeless, huh? tnx

  2. mary said on January 7th, 2011 at 8:55am #

    Lieberman is another one in the list of this creep’s clients.

    {http://exposingbiasnews.wordpress.com/2008/11/27/lanny-davis-is-the-treasurer-for-joe-liebermans-reuniting-our-country-pac/}

  3. Don Hawkins said on January 7th, 2011 at 12:47pm #

    And today in the House of representatives the talk is repel and replace health care. What’s wrong with that picture well they should in reality have lost the suit and tie and be sitting in the chamber with there head in there hands and just maybe thinking if it’s not to late to save life on this planet not all we waited to long. In the back of there mind do they know this of course and possibly why they seem to act a tad bit strange well no tad bit about it. We are out of time people and when I go to Linh Dinh’s blog and look at the photo’s those messages the signs and billboards now in the cities is 100% looney tunes. It sure look’s like it will take a lot of us one party total focus if we wish to survive. A few are laughing at the human race along with relentless propaganda and or nonsense as nonsense seems to work. In the States about the middle of the week a blue Blue Norther will dive into the States and is it because of climate change you bet. Read the new report and think.

    {http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/}

    The summer’s will not be boring and the winters oh crap and these so called leaders are on repeal and replace or another way to look at it is they have there head up there ass way up it. Of course a few lobbyists and or despots would read what I just wrote and out of there mouth would come nonsense this is after 2010 and the first climate crisis that the lobbyists and or despots have managed to suppress with nonsense. I’ll bet one reason for this is because we the people are all savages and can’t handle the truth. Turn that around about 180 degrees the light the light run it’s right behind us faster, faster it’s gaining on us.

  4. Don Hawkins said on January 9th, 2011 at 5:40pm #

    {http://c4ss.org/content/5740}

    I just read this very good.

  5. Don Hawkins said on January 10th, 2011 at 3:44am #

    Did some of you read what Kevin Carson wrote and for me after reading his words my first thought was why the big push to make Obama look like he’s a left wing tree hugging radical. Maybe because a few don’t like being told what to do even a little and is that an illusion, yes. The group Carson talked about like Glenn Beck heck he get’s to buy his own play house and Palin sell’s book’s and get’s her own show freedom work’s and the tea party I guess it’s just back up where more is always’ better. Of course we could read this again;

    “Never again will you be capable of ordinary human feeling. Everything will be dead inside you. Never again will you be capable of love, or friendship, or joy of living, or laughter, or curiosity, or courage, or integrity. You will be hollow. We shall squeeze you empty and then we shall fill you with ourselves.”

    “The ideal set up by the Party was something huge, terrible, and glittering—a world of steel and concrete, of monstrous machines and terrifying weapons—a nation of warriors and fanatics, marching forward in perfect unity, all thinking the same thoughts and shouting the same slogans, perpetually working, fighting, triumphing, persecuting—three hundred million people all with the same face.” Orwell

    On Wall Street they have a term it’s called M&A well M&A is happening alright on somewhat of a grand scale, the ideal set up by the Party was something huge, terrible, and glittering am not to sure about the glittering more on the lines of dull. Probably just help’s a few get up in the morning gives them purpose. On a more personable level where I live to make it as a small farmer is tuff real tuff remember M&A well if you have say 5,000 acres and maybe own a trucking company and heck a fertilizer plant bingo you got it but why stop there off to the Stars. Of course all thinking the same thoughts and shouting the same slogans comes to mind also go to Linh Dinh’s blog and the people we see there comes to mind and if we look at society as a whole same in varying degrees. I have to admit climate change must drive these people and there vision mad. The fly in the ointment and a big one but they are relentless in there pursuit of happiness sort of as the goal is to have other human’s do the work. It does look like barring any major event’s from the known universe climate change and or WMD’s tied for first and what are we doing about so far M&A. “Never again will you be capable of ordinary human feeling. Everything will be dead inside you. Never again will you be capable of love, or friendship, or joy of living, or laughter, or curiosity, or courage, or integrity. You will be hollow. We shall squeeze you empty and then we shall fill you with ourselves; Massey, Massey, Massey, drill baby drill USA USA all thinking the same thoughts and shouting the same slogans somewhat amazing to see once you know and a great job is a lobbyist for a despot.

  6. Don Hawkins said on January 10th, 2011 at 4:24am #

    Despotism is a form of government in which a single entity, called the ‘despot’, rules with absolute power. That entity may be an individual, as in an autocracy, or it may be a group, as in an oligarchy. The word “despotism” means to “rule in the fashion of a despot” and should not be confused with ‘despot’.

    Despot comes from the Greek despotes, which roughly means “master” or “one with power”, and it has been used to translate a wide variety of titles and positions. It was used to describe the unlimited power and authority of the Pharaohs of Egypt, employed in the Byzantine court as a title of nobility, used by the rulers of Byzantine vassal states, and adopted as a title of the Byzantine Emperors. Thus, despot is found to have different meanings and interpretations at various times in history and can not be described by a single definition. This is similar to the other Greek titles basileus and autokrator, which, along with despot, have been used at various times to describe everything from a local chieftain to a simple ruler, king or emperor. Wiki

    Pharaohs of Egypt oh dear know your history I wonder in say the front of the pyramids in the day did they say have I got a deal for you or here’s my card call me. To bad Bozh is mad again really like to know what he think’s about Despotism well all ism’s in ten words or less and just how it effect’s society as a whole. In a mad world only the mad are sane that’s with known knowledge not illusion that so far almost an invisible wall a prison for the mind that yes could come tumbling down with only a thought, reason, imagination and so far we seem to be going in the other direction. Could have had a V-8 or a planet to live on but of course this is all under control sure it is.

  7. Don Hawkins said on January 10th, 2011 at 6:16am #

    Here’s a good one as I just saw pictures out of Atlanta and they are skiing in the street’s and this is now moving North. Now say a brave soul said those two little words climate change or more than one heck maybe two or three well I’ll bet the greatest minds in human history over at Fox New’s could put there minds together and manage to make it into a conspiracy theory where anybody who said those two words are left wing tree hugging radical, dirty, pot smoking crazy people who went to one to many meetings of the American Communist party. I watched Fox New’s this morning a little and they seem to be focusing on who’s crazy and who’s not and the best way to move forward. You have to admit somewhat amazing to see this once you know.