Lobbying Firm Memo Reveals Plan to Undermine Occupy Wall Street

NEW YORK | Saturday, November 19th, 2011 11:04pm EDT

A well-known Washington lobbying firm with links to the financial industry has proposed an $850,000 plan to take on Occupy Wall Street and politicians who might express sympathy for the protests, according to a memo obtained by the MSNBC program “Up w/ Chris Hayes.”

Lobbying Firm Memo Reveals Plan to Undermine Occupy Wall Street 01

A recently intercepted memo reveals both the threat OWS poses to Big Business and the fear of D.C. lobbyists that the group will align with the Tea Party. Photo: Tom Giebel/Flickr

The memo, first reported by MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, host of the show “Up with Chris Hayes,” was written by the firm Clark, Lytle, Geduldig, Cranford and addressed to one of its Wall Street clients. It runs four pages long and is set to be sent on Thanksgiving.

CLGC’s memo proposes that the ABA pay CLGC $850,000 to conduct “opposition research” on Occupy Wall Street in order to construct “negative narratives” about the protests and allied politicians. The memo also asserts that Democratic victories in 2012 would be detrimental for Wall Street and targets specific races in which it says Wall Street would benefit by electing Republicans instead.

In the memo, CLGC expressed great worry about the influence of Occupy protests, and especially the danger of having the Democratic Party embrace the OWS movement.

“This would mean more than just shot-term political discomfort for Wall Street…” the memo read. “It has the potential to have very long-lasting political, policy and financial implications on the companies in the center of the bulls-eye.”

According to the memo, if Democrats embrace OWS, “This would mean more than just short-term political discomfort for Wall Street. … It has the potential to have very long-lasting political, policy and financial impacts on the companies in the center of the bullseye.”

The CLGC memo outlines a 60-day plan to conduct surveys and research on OWS and its supporters, so that Wall Street companies could then conduct a smear campaign against the Occupy movement in the media.

“It will be vital,” the memo says, “to understand who is funding it [the Occupy protests] and what their backgrounds and motives are.”

“If we can show that they have the same cynical motivation as a political opponent,” the memo, now rather ironically, ends, “it will undermine their credibility in a profound way.” 

Two of the memo’s authors, partners Sam Geduldig and Jay Cranford, previously worked for House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. Geduldig joined CLGC before Boehner became speaker;  Cranford joined CLGC this year after serving as the speaker’s assistant for policy. A third partner, Steve Clark, is reportedly “tight” with Boehner, according to a story by Roll Call that CLGC features on its website.

Jeff Sigmund, an ABA spokesperson, confirmed that the association got the memo. “Our Government Relations staff did receive the proposal – it was unsolicited and we chose not to act on it in any way,” he said in a statement to “Up.”

Boehner spokesman Michael Steel declined to comment on the memo. But he responded to its characterization of Republicans as defenders of Wall Street by saying, “My understanding is that President Obama is the single largest recipient of donations from Wall Street.”

The lobbying firm, a high-powered shop with an array of clients from across the political spectrum, declined to comment. On its website, the firm notes that it “combines sophisticated high-level strategic thinking with robust ground-level relationships established over decades with key members of Congress and their staff, Administration officials.”

The CLGC memo raises another issue that it says should be of concern to the financial industry — that OWS might find common cause with the Tea Party.

“Well-known Wall Street companies stand at the nexus of where OWS protestors and the Tea Party overlap on angered populism,” the memo says. “…This combination has the potential to be explosive later in the year when media reports cover the next round of bonuses and contrast it with stories of millions of Americans making do with less this holiday season.”

Joshua Stephens, who has participated in the occupy movement in New York City, says the memo worries might be misplaced or potentially obsolete. “The danger is not whether or not politicians will defend these institutions. My fear wouldn’t be that,” he said. “My fear would be that the politicians that come to their aid will be increasingly irrelevant…That’s the real threat and that’s where things are going.” [via Huff Post, MSN and International Business Times]

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