Sometimes, you have to wonder about some people. One thing we neglected to cover in our examination last night of Danny Gerstein’s cri du coeur of a press release was his repeated insistence that Hadassah Lieberman is absolutely positively NOT a lobbyist for the pharmaceutical industry. NOT A LOBBYIST, do you understand me? NOT! A! LOBBYIST! And anyone who tells you differently is just a negativity spewing "Lamonster" (AAAAAAAAHH!!) who hates America!!
(O)n Aug. 27, Lieberman spokesman Dan Gerstein released an angry memo in reaction to an offhand remark by Lamont campaign manager Tom Swan — who mentioned on a local TV show that his candidate’s wife, Annie, "is not a lobbyist" — and to subsequent postings on the topic by pro-Lamont bloggers. According to the Journal Inquirer, a Connecticut daily newspaper, Gerstein’s memo was headlined "Lamonster Whopper of the Week" and railed against Lamont’s "reality-challenged blog supporters" for repeating "the lie that Hadassah Lieberman is a lobbyist."
Gerstein went on to note that Mrs. Lieberman "has never been a registered lobbyist" according to records kept by the Senate clerk.
Connecticut voters may never know what Mrs. Lieberman did or didn’t do for Pfizer, APCO, Hill & Knowlton or any of the other companies to which she has lent her skills and connections over the years. The Lieberman campaign repeatedly refused to disclose the names of her Hill & Knowlton clients to Kevin Rennie of the Hartford Courant. Voters should know what Joe Lieberman has done for the drug industry, however, and why his wife’s simultaneous financial and professional involvement in that industry is troubling.
The real question here is not whether Mrs. Lieberman was technically required to register as a lobbyist, but whether she was being paid by corporate clients whose special interests were being served by her husband.
Ahem. So, in other words, Hadassah wasn’t registered as a lobbyist because she was acting as an unregistered lobbyist? Isn’t that, like, a federal crime?
Among Hill & Knowlton’s clients when Mrs. Lieberman signed on with the firm last year was GlaxoSmithKline, the huge British-based drug company that makes vaccines along with many other drugs. As I noted in July, Sen. Lieberman introduced a bill in April 2005 (the month after his wife joined Hill & Knowlton) that would award billions of dollars in new "incentives" to companies like GlaxoSmithKline to persuade them to make more new vaccines. Under the legislation, known as Bioshield II, the cost to consumers and governments would be astronomical, but for Lieberman and his Republican cosponsors, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., the results would be worth every penny. Using the war on terror as their ideological backdrop, the pharma-friendly senators sought to win patent extensions on products that have nothing to do with preparations against terrorist attack or natural disaster.
As the New Haven Register, Lieberman’s hometown newspaper, noted in an editorial headlined "Lieberman Crafts Drug Company Perk," that bill is even more generous to the pharmaceutical industry than a similar proposal by the Senate Republican leadership.
See, but that’s what Sean Hannity and Ann Coulter and Karl Rove love about Holy Joe. He’s more Republican than Republicans!
What the editorial didn’t mention was that the Lieberman bill had also been written by Chuck Ludlam, a former pharmaceutical industry lobbyist who then worked on the Connecticut senator’s staff. From his office to his bedroom, Lieberman was totally surrounded by current and former employees of Big Pharma. Ludlam has since retired, and Mrs. Lieberman has quit her job too — but Lieberman still looks like a politician wholly owned by one of the nation’s most troublesome special interests. And while his campaign may not believe that the moralizing senator should he held accountable for those dubious relationships, the press and the public may think otherwise.
I see. Now, here is the awful truth about having a guy like Gerstein as your media relations whiz-kid. Joe Conanson would never have had to write that piece if MC Fresh Danny G hadn’t gone on for pages and pages about Hadassah NOT BEING A LOBBYIST. Perhaps Gerstein thinks he is leading with the chin, being bold by taking on the haters head-on. But it’s generally not a good idea to lead with the chin when you’re a fighter with a glass jaw.
Calling attention to these issues is the LAST thing the Lieberman campaign should be doing. But that’s what happens when you hand Danny the Idiot Boy the controls to your media team and turn him loose. He is a rubber crutch, a screen door on a submarine, the PR equivalent of a smallpox blanket.
I’m so glad they gave him the job. Let’s hope the campaign exercises the same good judgement it has applied to everything else and keeps him on.