There has been a throw down of sorts over who the Iowa Department of Economic Development (IDED) selected to market the state. IDED selected Burson-Marsteller, one of the world’s largest and most expensive PR firms. The CEO of Burson-Marsteller is Mark Penn, Hillary Clinton’s chief strategist during her presidential campaign.
Burson-Marsteller got the $3 million dollar deal with IDED because of its affiliation with a Des Moines based firm lead by Chuck Larson, Jr.. Larson is a former legislator, U.S. Ambassador, and is partners with Karen Slifka, another GOP operative, and Joe Shannahan, a Democrat operative. Larson is slated to be the general strategist the PR IDED. Iowa based Integer Group will still handle the tourism PR work.
The news that Houston-based Burson-Marsteller had been selected created a strong response from some Iowa Republicans. “The idea that a department tasked with growing Iowa’s economy would outsource their public relations efforts is ludicrous,” said Tim Albrecht of the American Future Fund. Albrecht also runs a traditional news aggregator called www.thebeanwalker.com.
Eric Woolson, who owns a Des Moines based PR firm and is also the communications guru for Bob Vander Plaats said, “It’s disappointing that the governor’s office and the DED would go out of state when there are tremendous resources here in Iowa. My sense is they will pay more and probably not get the kind of attention they would get from an Iowa firm that is going to be front and center every day.”
Once again, I think people are missing the bigger story here. Do I wish that IDED would have given that $3 million to an Iowa company instead of a huge firm that will take the majority of it, but pass out a few bucks to the Iowa firm that helped them secure the account? Absolutely. But why isn’t ANYONE talking about the fact that both Chuck Larson and Karen Slifka are basically now working for Chet Culver?
This is a brilliant move by Culver if you ask me. He just took Larson, who many people considered to be the one remaining big brand name that Iowa Republicans still have, and put him on the state payroll. You guys know how loyalty works; you are loyal to the person who signs your paycheck.
I imagine that whoever our gubernatorial nominee end up being will probably attack Culver’s record on economic development. You know attacks like, “Chet Culver gives millions of dollars to companies like Google, IBM, and Microsoft, and expects Iowa’s small business owners to pay the tab.” I’ll bet dollars to doughnuts that our friend, Chuck Larson Jr., will be summoned by Culver to go defend IDED against the vicious, untrue attacks from the Republicans.
I guess we now know that the reason Larson ruled out a run for Governor was not because of his young family, but because he was trying to get a big government paycheck. And we wonder why Republicans aren’t worth a crap in this state. We can’t get out of our own way.
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