Get sick, get well
Hang around a ink well
Ring bell, hard to tell
If anything is goin' to sell
-- Bob Dylan

Monday, June 18, 2012

Axelrod's old firm behind attack ads on CTU

Obama, Emanuel, & Axelrod
Well, mercy me! Look who's behind those ads blasting the CTU. Why, it's ASGK Public Strategies and AKPD, David Axelrod's old firms. An embarrassed Axelrod is claiming that he no longer has any connection to the firms since he sold them in 2009, when he became Obama's Senior White House Advisor. But he's still very much connected (the A stands for Axelrod) and he pulls down a nice $200,000/year from them.

Among ASGK clients are Citibank, the financial giant that received $45 billion in bailout money after helping to cause the global financial collapse. Citi is also the driving force behind the Mayor's so-called Infrastructure Trust scheme. Another client is the Ricketts family, owners of the Cubs. You might recall, it was Joe Ricketts, the right-wing family patriarch, whose PAC planned the racist ad campaign against Pres. Obama. Rahm Emanuel then feigned outrage and threatened to turn his back on the Ricketts' demand for about $500 million in public funding for the renovation of Wrigley Field.
Emanuel’s top spokeswoman says hiring ASGK won’t win Citibank and the Cubs any favors from City Hall. “If you think hiring Axelrod’s old firm will get you special access or privileges, you are sorely mistaken,” says spokeswoman Sarah Hamilton. “No person or company has an inside track into City Hall.”
Sorry for the break in this post. It took me a couple of minutes to get off the floor and back onto my chair after that one. My side still hurts from laughter. 

Another Axelrod-founded firm — AKPD Media and Messaging — recently produced ads critical of the Chicago Teachers Union, which is locked in a contract battle with Emanuel, who seems hell-bent on destroying the city's public employee unions. AKPD oversaw Emanuel’s ad blitz during his mayoral campaign, and the firm is a paid consultant to his political committee, state records show.  

Like ASGK, AKPD continues to pay Axelrod for selling his stake in that firm. AKPD owed him $2 million, to be paid over four years, when he became a White House aide, Axelrod told federal ethics officials.

Both AKPD and ASKG are housed at the same River North address that’s also home to Axelrod Strategies, the firm he founded upon leaving the White House last year. “I rent space in my old offices, but I work full-time out of Obama headquarters these days,” Axelrod says.ASGK’s managing partner, Eric Sedler, won’t talk about the work the firm is doing for the Cubs and Citibank.
And no one, it seems, will say anything about the anti-CTU campaign.  

All this calls into question the motives behind AFT President Randi Weingarten's recent visit to Chicago. Weingarten spoke in support of the Infrastructure Trust at Bill Clinton's Global Initiative Conference. To her credit, Randi had been in town a few weeks earlier to support and march with thousands of rallying union teachers. But now, here she was rallying support for the very forces that were attacking the CTU in a massive media campaign. According to the Sun-Times report:  
Emanuel was seated onstage next to Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, whose largest member union, the Chicago Teachers Union, [was] taking a strike-authorization vote this week, frustrated with Emanuel’s administration, which killed a negotiated 4 percent raise for the teachers last year. Emanuel has said he thinks teachers deserve a raise. His board has offered a 2 percent raise in the first year of a proposed five-year contract and no guaranteed raise after that.
Weingarten and Emanuel didn’t go near that issue Thursday.
Why not?

Cross-posted on Mike Klonsky's SmallTalk Blog

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