BUZZARDS ON THE
HILL & KNOWLTON
“We’d represent Satan, if he paid.”
- Unnamed Hill & Knowlton executive, 1991
Sightings from The Catbird Seat
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August 1, 2006
Hill & Knowlton
Hill & Knowlton is a global public relations company, owned by the WPP Group.
One of the world’s five largest public relations firms, Hill & Knowlton was founded in 1927 by former journalist John W. Hill. During the Depression, Hill became partners with a banking client, Donald Knowlton. The two then began a partnership, but in 1934 Hill moved the headquarters to New York to serve as counsel to the American Iron and Steel Institute while Knowlton stayed in Cleveland, Ohio under the name Hill & Knowlton of Cleveland.
As of 2005, H&K had 73 offices in 39 countries, including 19 in the United States. Currently employing 1100 people, the firm provides both public relation and lobbying services to local, multinational and global clients, including the Enron Corporation and the International Olympic Committee.
The firm was obtained by the WPP Group, one of the worlds leading communications service groups, which owns four of the largest PR firms, including Hill & Knowlton.
Today Hill & Knowlton plays a significant role due to its global reach and its ties to the US government. Hill & Knowlton has also developed close ties with many other governments around the world, including Australia, Kuwait, and Uganda, but the bulk of their efforts have mainly been directed towards handling public relations issues for conservative US administrations. Its reach and control over mass media allows the firm to have direct impact on world events, public policy, and shaping news stories; the firm has had particular success in marketing the 1990-91 Persian Gulf War and the 2003 invasion of Iraq to the American people....
Hill & Knowlton has generated a fair amount of controversy. Numerous PR campaigns, on behalf of both governments and private industry appear to violate both industry ethics and civil statutes. In 1991, Hill & Knowlton received $14 million from countries known to abuse human rights, including China, Peru, Indonesia, and Egypt. They have also taken on cases that dealt with corporate crime, including the El Paso natural gas case and the Bank of Credit and Commerce International case. The company has been involved in possible government conspiracies including the alleged October Surprise and has worked for the CIA in cases where overseas offices acted as covers for US agents.
Another controversial issue is the use of propaganda by Hill & Knowlton. Since the 1930s, public relations and propaganda have merged into a profitable business, with H&K making up to $350 per hour. This increased revenue gives them the funds and ability to influence public opinion. Several examples show their use of propaganda on behalf of clients:
In 1953, Members of the Tobacco Industry hired the firm to help counteract recent scientific findings that suggested cigarette smoking led to cancer. As a result “A Frank Statement” was released to nearly every major newspaper and magazine, misleading readers into believing that cigarettes had no verifiable links to cancer.
In 1990, on behalf of the US-funded and US-directed Citizens for a Free Kuwait, H&K researched and then created stories and “eye-witness” testimonies that described Iraqi atrocities that would build public support for Desert Storm. These "eye-witnesses" were presented to the Congressional Human Rights Caucus and included the fraudulent "Nayirah" testimony that played a major role in involving the US in the Gulf War. She testified that she had witnessed Iraqi soldiers killing hundreds of premature babies at the al-Addan hospital in Kuwait City. "They took the babies out of the incubators, took the incubators, and left the babies on the cold floor to die," she said. Congressmen were stunned.
It was only after Desert Storm had officially ended that ABC reporter John Martin discovered that none of these tales of atrocities were true. "Nayirah" was actually the daughter of the royal family member Saud Nasir al-Sabaah, the Kuwaiti ambassador to the United States. Without Hill & Knowlton's PR, the Gulf War would not have been as favorable to Americans. Much is made that at this time H&K's Washington office was headed by Craig Fuller, the former chief of staff and good friend of George Bush, Sr.
Coppertone, a company that creates and sells sun care products, enlisted H&K in 1994 in order to boost profit. H&K exaggerated scientific reports of a depleted ozone layer to encourage the general public to protect themselves from skin cancer by using Coppertone's products.
PR Watch. WPP.
Corporate Watch. Hill & Knowlton: A Corporate Profile.
Hill & Knowlton website.
Public Relationships: Hill & Knowlton, Robert Gray, and the CIA. By: John Carlisle.
Source Watch. Hill & Knowlton.
Maldives Culture. Hill & Knowlton PR Mulitnational.
Read the complete article at:
April 17, 2008
Public relations firms feed at
city-funded transit trough
By Laurie Au, Star-Bulletin
The city released yesterday a list of companies working on the $3.7 billion mass-transit system in contracts totaling more than $107 million.
Paying up to sell mass transit
Here are some companies or individuals hired to do public outreach on the city's mass transit system:
Elisa Yadao, public relations: $504,662
Lychee Productions, public relations: $889,117
Norman Mineta, Hill & Knowlton: $120,000 The three companies contracted to the city -- Parsons Brinckerhoff Quade & Douglas Inc., InfraConsult and PB Americas -- are responsible for primarily the engineering studies being done on the elevated mass-transit system from Kapolei to Ala Moana.
But those companies also hired several other companies for work that includes public relations or community outreach. The city does not pay these subcontractors directly, but does approve the companies.
"I'm very concerned," said Councilman Charles Djou, who had requested the list. "I've always contended that the rail project is too expensive. All this spending of taxpayer money on public relations is basically bribing the taxpayers with their own money."
Djou pointed to two well-known consultants, former U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta and Elisa Yadao, who does public relations with InfraConsult. Mineta, vice chairman of international public relations firm Hill & Knowlton Inc., is getting $120,000 a year to do community outreach in Hawaii.
Yadao, who also worked with Mayor Mufi Hannemann on his campaign in 2004, is getting paid $425,000 over four years. Yadao also received $79,662 for work done with Parsons Brinckerhoff.
Mayor Mufi Hannemann said he stands by the money the city spends on the project.
"I think it's worth every penny that we spend on this project," Hannemann said. "This is the biggest capital improvement project. This is very common and something that the Federal Transit Administration looks at. It's very necessary. Maybe if (the Council) weren't trying to delay and obstruct the project as much, we won't have to spend as much."
The mayor's spokesman added that the public-involvement expenses are a small fraction -- 2.5 percent -- of the project's total cost.
See also: The Buzzards in Bechtel; Buzzards on the Hill & Knowlton; David C. Farmer, Trustee, Office of the U.S. Trustee vs. Harmon, Witness: Mufi Hannemann; Hawaii Sunshine
April 18, 2008
Mayor’s backers get big rail jobs
Hannemann defends millions doled out
so far to his campaign donors
by Laurie Au, Star-Bulletin
Nearly one in every three companies working on the city's $3.7 billion mass transit system has contributed to Mayor Mufi Hannemann's campaign.
In reviewing a list released by the city this week of subcontractors involved in this project, the Star-Bulletin found at least 19 of the 62 firms have given money to Hannemann's campaign since 2000.
Three contractors were awarded a total of $107 million to work on the beginning phases of the project, including the preliminary engineering, environmental impact statement and public outreach. Those three companies enlisted the help of several dozen companies, some of which were awarded multiple contracts lasting several years.
Hannemann defended the firms, saying they are doing good work and that contributing to his campaign is legal.
"There's nothing that prevents consultants who work with the city who happen to be supporters of mine," he told reporters yesterday. "As long as the contribution is legal, we'll accept the campaign contribution."
Three subcontractors working on public involvement have ties to Hannemann's campaign or administration. They have more than $1.8 million in subcontracts: Elisa Yadao and Laura Pennington, who worked on Hannemann's mayoral campaign, and Gary Omori, married to Clarice Hashimoto, who works in the Mayor's Office.
Meanwhile, the City Council is expected to make a final decision on the technology for the elevated system from Kapolei to Ala Moana. That vote is a mere "formality," said Hannemann, as the city moves forward with steel wheel on steel rail as its technology.
September 6, 2008
Mayor's ad with Obama clarified
Presidential nominee featured, but has not endorsed Hannemann
BY PETER BOYLAN, Advertiser Staff Writer
A campaign advertisement featuring Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann and Democratic presidential nominee U.S. Sen. Barack Obama was not sanctioned by the Obama campaign and does not amount to an official endorsement, local Obama campaign officials said.
The advertisement, featuring images from Obama's public rally last month at Ke'ehi Lagoon Beach Park and audio of Obama praising the mayor, also includes a picture of Obama with Hannemann and his wife, Gail Mukaihata Hannemann.
The ad quotes Obama saying "I want to thank one of the best mayors in the country who has just made Honolulu even better than it was before, Mufi Hannemann."
Staff members for Obama's Hawai'i campaign said they have been fielding calls about the ad and questions about whether Obama formally endorsed Hannemann.
Hannemann's campaign did not make a formal request to use Obama's likeness or public comments in a paid campaign advertisement, Obama campaign officials said.
"Senator Obama has not endorsed any candidate for mayor of Honolulu," said Andy Winer, Obama's Hawai'i campaign chairman.
A.J. Halagao, who serves as Hannemann's campaign coordinator and campaign spokesperson, was also a volunteer for Obama's local campaign prior to working for Hannemann's re-election campaign.
"We are not aware of an objection from the Obama campaign regarding our commercial. In fact, earlier this week, we were contacted by the Obama campaign to have Mayor Hannemann speak at an upcoming rally in Hawai'i and in addition, travel to Mainland municipalities to speak on Senator Obama's behalf," said Halagao. "Earlier in the year, Mayor Hannemann endorsed Senator Obama, who responded, 'Mahalo to Mayor Hannemann for endorsing my candidacy for president. I have known Mufi since my basketball playing days in high school, and I appreciate all of his efforts to make Honolulu a better place to live.' "
The ad featuring Hannemann and Obama was made at a rally at Ke'ehi lagoon — a public event that already had been broadcast throughout the country, according to the Hannemann campaign.
During his Hawai'i visit last month, Obama reiterated his praise for Hannemann during a fundraiser a few days after the rally, referring to Hannemann as an "outstanding mayor."
The fundraising event, which Hannemann co-chaired, generated more than $1.3 million in donations.
October 16, 2004
Details emerge on
UH public relations
deal in Dobelle ouster
A consultant was paid $275 an hour
for legal advice and strategies
By Craig Gima, Star-Bulletin
A law firm hired by the University of Hawaii Board of Regents released a partial list of services provided by a public relations consultant that led to an $89,743 bill in connection with the dismissal of former UH President Evan Dobelle.
Rick Zwern, a former boss of Board of Regents Vice-Chairwoman Kitty Lagareta, billed at a rate of $275 an hour for 294 hours of work between June 25 and Aug. 10. The rest of the bill went for taxes and expenses....
"All I know is, it's lower than my rate," said attorney Bill McCorriston, who hired Zwern after consulting with the regents and who charged the university $350 an hour for his legal services....
"I think it's consistent with top-rate public relations services. It's certainly not out of line," he said....
Zwern, who is also international training director for the public relations firm of Hill & Knowlton, also billed for work with Jim Jennings, a former Hill & Knowlton executive and former executive vice president of America's Promise, the national youth development organization begun by Colin Powell and current and former U.S. presidents in 1997.
The full bill for Zwern's and Jennings' services was not released.
In a written statement, McCorriston said that much of Zwern's services was related to his legal work for the university, which is protected from disclosure by attorney-client privilege.
The list released yesterday is for public relations activities for non-legal matters, McCorriston said.
The list includes media coverage review, research, developing communications strategy, drafting potential news media statements and planning and review for the release of documents after an OIP opinion that the public should have access to many of the documents and meeting minutes that led to Dobelle's dismissal.
He said Zwern consulted on public relations strategies for UH on Dobelle and the transition to a new president. Zwern also coordinated news media inquiries and managed public communications from the university regarding the mediation efforts, potential litigation, the settlement and Office of Information Practices issues.
Lagareta has said that while she participated in the discussion over hiring Zwern during a June 15 board meeting, she did not make the final decision and disclosed her relationship with him.
Zwern was a co-owner of Communications Pacific when Lagareta was hired in the late 1980s. Zwern and his partner sold the company in 1993 to Hill & Knowlton, and Lagareta and her partner bought the firm from Hill & Knowlton in 1998.
Lagareta said she hires Zwern as a vendor to provide training services at Communications Pacific. But she said Zwern has not had a financial interest in the company since 1994.
University general counsel Walter Kirimitsu also said he does not see a conflict since McCorriston hired Zwern and there is no financial relationship between Lagareta and Zwern.
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FOR MORE BUZZARDS ON THE HILL,
THE SECRET NESTS
PART I - THE CIA
PART II - THE FBI
PART III - THE MOSSAD
PART IV - THE NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY
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AN OCTOPUS NAMED WACKENHUT
APCOA: VULTURES IN THE PARKING LOT
BIRDS IN THE LOBBY
BIRDS ON THE POWER LINES
BIRDS THAT DRINK FROM CESSPOOLS
THE BLACKSTONE GROUP
THE BUZZARDS IN BECHTEL
CONDOLEEZZA & THE CHICKEN HAWKS
CONFESSIONS OF A WHISTLEBLOWER
DIRTY GOLD IN GOLDMAN SACHS
FLYING HIGH IN HAWAII
HAIL TO THE CHIEF!
HUD: THE HOUSING & URBAN DISASTER
THE IMPENDING IMPEACHMENT OF GEORGE W. BUSH
THE KISSINGER OF DEATH
KROLL, THE CONSPIRATOR
THE NATURE CONSERVANCY
NESTS IN THE PENTAGON
OF VAMPIRES AND DAISIES
PARROTS IN THE NEWSROOM
PIMPS TO POWER
PREDATORS IN PARADISE
SONGS OF THE DRUG VULTURES
THE MARSH BIRDS
THE STEPHEN FRIEDMAN FLOCK
THE STRANGE SAGA OF BCCI
THE VAMPIRES ON JUPITER ISLAND
VAMPIRES IN THE CITY
VAMPIRES ON GILLIGAN'S ISLAND
WHO'S GUARDING THE HEN HOUSE ???
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Last update October 15, 2008, by The Catbird
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August 3, 2006: Originally posted on www.the-catbird-seat.net
March 13, 2007: Judge David Ezra signs Order to shut down website
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