Skip to comments.CA: Bridge builder's new flack a true PR virtuoso (Chris Lehane)
Posted on 04/16/2005 10:41:13 AM PDT by NormsRevenge
The Bay Bridge retrofit contractor's new spokesman is a political public-relations heavy hitter with a national reputation for digging up dirt on embattled clients' critics.
Chris Lehane, 37, helped the Clinton White House spin the Whitewater investigation, spoke for Vice President Al Gore on the 2000 presidential campaign trail and advised former Gov. Gray Davis during the 2001 energy crisis and 2002 gubernatorial campaign.
Now he's working for KFM Joint Venture, the contractor building the Bay Bridge's new eastern span. The Oakland Tribune has reported welders' accusations that many of the project's welds are defective and that unsafe working conditions existed on the job site. An FBI investigation is under way, and lawmakers are calling for probes of their own.
"Chris is the best in the business. If you have damage that needs to be controlled, he's the guy to bring in," said veteran Republican campaign and public affairs consultant Dan Schnur. "And if any damage-control challenge is tougher than what he faced with Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky, it might be this one."
Democratic consultant Roger Salazar worked with Lehane in Gore's office and on the 2000 presidential campaign. He called Lehane and his partner, Mark Fabiani, also formerly of the White House, "the masters of crisis communications they know how to manage an issue and look at it from every conceivable angle, find all of the strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities."
Lehane's reputation is as a master of opposition research: finding and disseminating negative or scandalous information about one's political opponents. For example, some believe he masterminded the release of George W. Bush's 1976 drunken-driving arrest record a few days before the 2000 election. He has denied involvement.
The New York Times early last year wrote Lehane "is such a shrewd practitioner of what one admiring strategist called 'the polit-ical black arts'that lately, when a negative story appears, rivals point to him."
The Massachusetts native grew up in Maine and holds a bachelor's degree from Amherst College and a Harvard Law degree. Raised in a politically active family, he worked on congressional and gubernatorial campaigns in his home state before landing a job with Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew Cuomo.
Later, he moved into the White House as a special assistant counsel, working with Fabiani to develop strategies and counterattacks during the Whitewater and Lewinsky probes. He ended up Gore's deputy communications director, and then press secretary of Gore's 2000 presidential campaign.
In May 2001, Davis hired Lehane and Fabiani as $30,000-per-month communications consultants on California's energy crisis. But they also had been working for Southern California Edison, which had been negotiating for state help in avoiding bankruptcy. The duo resigned without pay in June 2001 after a Sacramento-area resident sued, claiming their hiring was a conflict of interests.
Lehane was a senior communications adviser to U.S. Sen. John Kerry's presidential campaign but resigned in September 2003 and one month later took a similar post with Democrat Wesley Clark's campaign.
Other recent clients of Lehane and Fabiani's firm, nicknamed the "Masters of Disaster," have included filmmaker Michael Moore, who aimed to deflect conservative criticism of his film "Fahrenheit 9/11," and Olympic track star Marion Jones, who sought to clear her name against allegations of doping in the ongoing BALCO steroid scandal.
Salazar noted that Lehane also "is probably one of the biggest jokesters, the biggest pranksters you'll ever meet ... The fact that he'll give his all to his clients is enhanced by the fact that the guy likes to have fun in what he's doing."
Like Johnny Cochran, if you are corrupt then you need Lehane. If you are guilty and corrupt, you tell everybody you are hiring him. Look at his client list, not a single one of them was innocent of the charges against them.
|Helped the Clinton White House spin the Whitewater investigation||Looser, sorta|
|Spoke for Vice President Al Gore on the 2000 presidential campaign trail||Looser|
|Advised former Gov. Gray Davis during the 2001 energy crisis and 2002 gubernatorial campaign||Looser and Looser|
Why would anyone hire this looser?
That they only tested five of thirty-two columns in but one assembly is worrisome. In order to prove a negative with regard to the other columns (now wrapped in concrete), why not test them all?
Just hiring Lehane indicates you've done something wrong.
It's like the great OSHA shakedown on the Alaska pipeline in the 90's....All about politics and money, forget the reason that you are there is to fix it. Just speaking from experience.