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O'Dwyer's Newsletter - Nov. 21, 2011 - Vol. 44 - No. 45 (download PDF version)


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UTAH MAYOR QUITS PR JOB AMID SCANDAL

The Mayor of West Valley City, Utah, has quit his PR job at a Salt Lake City agency after writing more than a dozen articles under a phony name.

Winder
Winder

Mike Winder resigned from The Summit Group after two years on Nov. 15, apologizing for penning articles about his city to Utah media under the name Richard Burwash.

“I am hoping that my departure will demonstrate that The Summit Group is an agency that always strives for the highest ethical practices and open and forthright relationships with the media,” he said in a resignation letter read to the West Valley City council.

Utah’s Deseret News reported that Winder had more than a dozen stories published over a two-year period in outlets like the Deseret

News, KSL.com and the Oquirrh Times, some of which quoted himself as mayor.

The mayor said he stopped using the pen name when he learned it violated the policy of the Deseret News’ freelancer network he used to publish the works.

“Since The Summit Group knew nothing about my pen name until last week, I feel that this is an important step to absolve the agency from any association with this issue,” said Winder, who created a fake online profile to produce the stories.

Dennis Jolley, a public affairs and marketing director for the University of Utah and president-elect of the Salt Lake City chapter of PRSA, condemned the acts of the mayor.

“By choosing to take a shortcut via deception, Mayor Winder not only damaged his own reputation, but that of West Valley City, the city’s elected representatives, and communications professionals,” he said in a statement.

Winder told the Deseret News he wanted to “restore balance” to its coverage of his city, which he said published more crime stories than other news.

Summit Group partner told the Salt Lake Tribune “it doesn’t reflect how we do business.”

“We say who we are when we do our job,” he said, telling the Tribune that he met with employees Monday to “re-emphasize the expectations of the firm.”

ASSANGE HIRES PR FIRM

Julian Assange, who is currently appealing the Nov. 2 decision of a British judicial panel to deport him to Sweden, has hired Stockholm’s Ullman PR.

The WikiLeaks founder faces rape and sexual assault charges in Sweden.

Harald Ullman decided to represent Assange because he’s “entitled to a good lawyer and a good PR agency to handle the huge media” that will cover a trial, according to a statement on his firm’s website. He believes Assange is “innocent of the charges of rape as alleged.”

Ullman said Assange, who is an Australian citizen, worries that Sweden may extradite him to the U.S. to face Espionage Act charges connected to Wikileaks disclosures. “Sweden has previously extradited people on behalf of the U.S. So fear is not unfounded,” noted Ullman.

The U.S. arrested Pfc. Bradley Manning for allegedly leaking sensitive documents to WikiLeaks. If convicted, he could face more than 50 years in jail.

FALLON GUIDES ABRAMOFF

Janet Fallon of Washington’s PR Options is guiding the “redemption tour” of convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who served three and a half years in federal prison on corruption charges.

Abramoff
Abramoff

The New York Times (Nov. 13) reported the 53-year-old Abramoff is unemployed, insolvent and trying to redeem and rebrand himself via media appearances on “60 Minutes,” “Hannity,” “The Early Show,” and “Piers Morgan Tonight.”

Abramoff, who has written a tell-all memoir, “Capitol Punishment,” is available for speaking engagements (“Congress for Sale” theme) and working on a reality TV show with the producer of “Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader?”.

In an email exchange with O’Dwyer’s, Abramoff credited Fallon for “doing all this incredible work for me.” He considers her “truly phenomenal.” Prior to establishing PRO, Fallon was at Weber Shandwick.

Abramoff, who has his own website with links to Facebook and Twitter, owes his former Indian tribe clients $40M.

CFPB CONSIDERS MEDIA MONITORING

The newly created federal bureau regulating consumer protections from the financial sector is considering whether to hire a media monitoring vendor to track issues in media and online outlets like blogs and message boards.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which started on July 21 and was created in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis under the Dodd-Frank Act, sought informal proposals from monitoring vendors earlier this month.

The CFPB issued a request for information on Nov. 2 to learn about companies’ capacity to “collect public media information about consumer financial issues” from sources like press releases, news, websites and transcripts, according to the RFI.

The CFPB put out a feeler to hire freelance writers for assignments like online articles and blogs in October.

President Barack Obama tapped former Ohio attorney general Richard Cordray to head the CFPB.

Jen Howard left the press secretary post at the Federal Communications Commission in December for the same post at CFPB.

Richard Cordray, former attorney general of Ohio, has been nominated as director of the agency.

 
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