Mark Penn

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Mark Penn is a former chief strategist for Hillary Clinton and chief executive of PR firm Burson-Marsteller. Has known the Clintons since 1995. Managed Hillary Clinton's campaigns for senate in 2000 and 2006. He has a reputation for micro-managing campaigns. Credited with crafting her political image. Studies demographic trends and poll data and advises on long-term strategy and crisis management. Aims to re-align electoral groups in particular 'suburban mothers'. Wrote book "Microtrends: the Small Forces Behind Tomorrow's Big Changes". Believed Clinton should not apologise for voting in favour of Iraq war because it would send a message of weakness on national security and would benefit Republicans. Worked for Ed Koch in New York. Worked with Democratic Leadership Council. Strongest ties are to 'conservative Democrats'. Helped run Joe Lieberman's campaign in 2004. Has long record as a friend of Israel. Was an advocate of regime change in Iraq. Became a multi-millionaire when WPP group, a public-relations company, bought his consulting firm in 2001. It made him chief executive of sub-division Burson-Marsteller. It has 100 offices in 59 countries and annual revenues of $300m. Continued to run Burson-Marsteller and personally managed Microsoft account while advising Clinton.[1]

Doing PR for Colombia

Met with Colombian ambassador Carolina Barco Isakson and officials to discuss the North American Free Trade Agreement that Clinton opposes and bilateral drug-trafficking issues. They had hired him in his capacity as chief executive of Burson-Marsteller. Colombia paid Burson-Marsteller $300,000 for a one year deal. Burson-Marsteller also represents Countrywide Financial Corporation, the largest home mortgage lender in the US and private military contractor Blackwater Worldwide. Clinton opposes NAFTA because many American workers have lost their jobs to outsourcing and it is an electoral issue she has used to her advantage[2]

Journalist Jonathan Marshall has examined the close relationship between the Clintons and former Colombian president Álvaro Uribe Vélez, who stands accused of longstanding links to paramilitary groups and the drug trade. He recounts how,

As part of his publicity campaign, Penn arranged for Uribe to hold an award banquet in honor of Bill Clinton in 2007. Clinton reciprocated by featuring Uribe as an honored guest at his Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting a few months later.
When news of Penn’s contract with Bogota got out in 2008, Hillary Clinton had to fire him as her campaign strategist, lest she lose endorsements from labor unions. She insisted that her husband’s relationship with Colombia would not influence her stand on the free trade deal, which she opposed because of 'the history of violence against trade unionists in Colombia'. [3]

Burson-Marsteller role

Burson-Marsteller comprises global public relations network of 94 offices and 1600 employees. Penn, Schoen and Berland (Penn's consulting firm bought by B-M) provides "research-based communications strategy to political figures, corporations and crisis situations." Has been president of PSB since he was undergraduate at Harvard in 1975. Helped win Tony Blair's third election, Bill Clinton's impeachment aquittal and elect over 25 leaders in the US, Asia, Latin America and Europe. Client relationships include Ford Motor Company, Merck, Verizon, BP, McDonald's, and Microsoft. Helped Microsoft "affect a complete corporate turnaround from anti-trust scandal to Most Trusted Company (Wall Street Journal)."[4]

PSB has also been used by Silvio Berlusconi in Italy and Menachim Begin in Israel. Pioneered use of exit polls in US backed 'Colour Revolutions'. Intention is to shape perception that targeted group has broad electoral support. Conducted exit polls in Venezuela in 2004 which showed that Chavez had been defeated. He won 59 per cent of the vote. PSB sent poll results to international media four hours before polls closed. Burson-Marsteller owns BKSH & Associates, political lobbying firm run by Charles R Black Jr., a counsellor to Republican Presidents. Black currently works full time for John McCain's presidential campaign.[5]


  1. The Economist Aug 23rd 2007 'How mighty is the Penn?'
  2. Clinton Strategist... New York Times April 5th 2008
  3. Jonathan Marshall, The Clinton-Colombia Connection, Consortium News, 19 May 2016, accessed 26 May 2016
  4. Burson-Marsteller's corporate websiteMark Penn
  5. Is the Hillary Clinton campaign being deliberately sunk? by F. William Engdahl Global Research, April 8th 2008