This just in... Mark Penn, CEO of Burson-Marsteller and chief strategist Hillary Clinton's election campaign is being accused of illegal eavesdropping in a civil lawsuit. The suit alleges that he and his polling firm monitored the personal e-mails of a former associate.
Mitchell Markel, a former vice president at Penn, Schoen & Berland, the polling arm of B-M, claims that the firm began monitoring all messages sent from his personal Blackberry device for nearly a month by rigging his account to send blind carbon copies of his e-mails to PSB. Markel had left PSB earlier this year to run a new company that he has formed called Global Insights & Strategies, LLC. The suit claims that Penn approved of the monitoring and that PSB violated federal wiretapping laws.
The suit says, ""Through this unlawful interception scheme, defendants clandestinely received confidential and proprietary information of Markel's company... including pricing, strategy and work product, and proprietary information of other companies whose e-mails were also intercepted."
Markel's suit seeks monetary damages and asks the court to restrain PSB from disclosing or using any of the intercepted electronic communications, including for competitive use or in any trial or court proceeding, and asks that they be ordered to destroy everything they intercepted.
Howard Rubin, an attorney for Penn, Schoen & Berland, disputed the claim that the e-mails were private or that the firm engaged in unauthorized monitoring.
Last May The Nation featured a profile of Penn that ultimately asked: "Is what's good for Penn and his business good for Hillary's political career. It is difficult to tell where Penn's corporate life ends and the political one begins."
Indeed, the distinction gets murkier.
UPDATE: Jul 18, 6:51 PM (ET)
NEW YORK (AP) - A lawsuit accusing Hillary Rodham Clinton's chief strategist of illegally intercepting e-mails has been withdrawn and the legal battle between him and former associates has been resolved, the parties said Wednesday.
James Bond may have thought “You only die once,” and my mother Shirley, god rest her soul, used to say “Why die twice?” when I worried excessively. But apparently the Social Media Club believes that its mission is to repeatedly die like a poor fish flopping on a deck, gasping for air. Won’t some kind fisherman put the Social Media Club out of its misery and club it to death so we don’t have to witness its pathetic spasms?
We declared the Social Media Club dead, June 13th, on PRBlogNews because, well, it had no signs of life. No mission, no leadership, no meetings, no plans, no response. A lot of NO. We put a mirror up to its nose, no fog. We did not have a defibrillator handy and, frankly, we didn’t see what there was to save. Human life may be sacred, organizations that waste your time should be mercilessly dispatched.
There have been a few subsequent death-grip sputterings from Boston and San Francisco and then there comes an inexplicable email from the New York social media-ite asking for ideas for a July meeting. Ideas? You want stinking ideas? It’s back to the old Social Media Club circle jerk of asking for ideas, doing nothing, and then asking for more ideas. Isn’t this dead yet?
The Social Media Club reminds me of the old movie “Marty,” starring Ernest Borgnine. A bunch of guys stand a around a street corner and say over and over: What do you wanna do? I don’t know, wadda you wanna do? I don’t know, what are we going to do? Of course, they do nothing. If this is social media, it’s been done to death.
The root problem with the Social Media Club, someone suggested, was that nobody could pronounce the name of one of its founders, Chris Heuer. “Is it whore, like we say in Manhattan?” queried one confused Social Media-ite in New York. “Or is it who-ah, as we say in Brooklyn?” asked another. Another very social person postulated that this ‘pronunciation confusion’ suffused the organization with a conflicted sense of purpose that it could not overcome. “If we would have clarified that issue we might have had a chance,” said a social media higher-up who requested anonymity for fear of retribution from the anti-social fringe of social media.
Social media for public relations was hatched, peaked, and died in less than a year, with no trailing residue. It’s like it never existed. What next? Better to ask what was? We go back to the old style of angles and pitching, gimmicks, knowing what sells newspapers.
The New York Yankees, confronted with a horrible, abysmal losing streak that has left the team dispirited and its fans fatalistic, have devised inventive publicity schemes that can serve as case studies.
Alex Rodriquez’s wife Cynthia wore a tank top to Yankee Stadium that said Fuck You on it in Old English letters. “F-Rod” were the tabloid headlines the next day and Yankee GM Brian Cashman had a little talk with A-Rod and his wife. It seems that the Yankees have a regulation against obscenities on clothing in Yankee Stadium, as if you need a regulation to tell you that it is kinda provocative. A-Rod was recently splattered all over the front pages of the tabs for cavorting with a Vegas stripper. Great PR tie-with his wife’s F-U tank top in a crowd of 50,000 maniac fans in the Bronx. Know your market – rule #1 of publicity.
Scott Proctor, a struggling reliever for the Yankees (and who isn’t struggling on the Yankees), set his glove on fire and thought that it was “no big deal” because “I have done it before.” So the Yankee honcho relief pitcher is a long-term pyro who practices on-the-field voodoo on his personal equipment. “Proctor in Shambles, Burns Glove,” said the headlines on the tabs. “Scott Proctor Likes Fire,” said the headline on a blog that ran the story with a pic of Jim Hendrix exhorting flames from his guitar.
Forget social media. You want to get some press attention, you do as the Yankees do.
Mark Rose is editor of PRBlogNews - a web publication focusing on public relations practices in the digital age.
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