Back in 1999, Al Gore took a serious beating over the fact that a senior aide, Carter Eskew, had masterminded a tobacco industry campaign to kill a bill, backed by John McCain, aimed at preventing minors from smoking.
Now Hillary Clinton seems headed right into the same storm, and not only because Eskew is a principal in a consulting firm she leans on, the Glover Park Group.
A tighter tie between Clinton and Big Tobacco is her pollster, Mark Penn, who was recently named CEO of Burson-Marsteller, one of the leading global public relations companies. Burson-Marsteller also, spokeswoman Elizabeth Vicenzino confirmed today, has as a client the Altria Group.
Altria, you’ll recall, was once known as Philip Morris, and thought of as a tobacco company. And their P.R. firm, Burson Marsteller, is the source of a semi-famous memo (.pdf) suggesting switching names “insulates food, beer (and future consumer goods products) from downside of tobacco issues.”
But whatever the name, Altria is still the world’s biggest tobacco company. Its smokes are best known under the brand name Marlboro. And the Marlboro Man probably pays even better than Hillary.
Also worth noting: Penn’s promotion was announced comfortably after the conclusion of the campaign of one anti-smoking client of his consulting firm: Mike Bloomberg.