Hardball political consultants Lehane & Fabiani advising the AMPTP for $100,000 a month “may boost the likelihood of Washington-style political hijinks” in the WGA strike. “Things are going to get much more negative in Los Angeles — and the strike will increasingly be linked to the approaching presidential primary,” according to Sacramento political writer Bill Bradley writing in LA Weekly (my newspaper).
The so-called “masters of disaster” Mark Fabiani and Chris Lehane are “translating the slash-and-burn partisan style they learned inside the Washington DC Beltway to Hollywood… Their clients are not horribly flawed Democratic leaders, but wealthy divisions of vast transnational corporations. Some bigtime Democrats are outraged. Andy Stern, powerful chief of the huge Service Employees International Union, flatly tells LA Weekly he is out to ‘blacklist’ them from getting paid to oversee labor-affiliated political campaigns and ballot measures in the future.”
Further, “the entry of Fabiani and Lehane into the fray is fast becoming an awkward issue in the Democratic presidential campaigns… All of the top Democratic presidential candidates publicly support the writers. Hillary Clinton, for whom they both worked during the late Clinton administration, has walked the picket line with the writers.”
But the article also clarifies what role the firm plays with Hillary’s campaign now. “Lehane has been working for Clinton locally — recently fighting a plan by Republicans in Sacramento to change California’s presidential vote in the Electoral College.”
Also, did you know that “Liars and Fibs” — as the WGA have dubbed them — also worked as hired guns for the Screen Actors Guild in 2002. “Their mission? To convince SAG members to allow ad agencies to own up to one-fifth of talent agencies — a controversial idea and, critics noted at the time, an inherent conflict of interest. Yet as Lehane spun the deal, it was all about union building: ‘We believe strongly in the need to preserve the strength of the union and this agreement does that.’ SAG members voted the deal down.”
The article also notes that Lehane and Fabiani aren’t the only hired guns for the studios: “The other key PR hire by the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers at least makes some political sense — their use of Los Angeles spin doctor Steve Schmidt, a Republican who ran George W. Bush’s war room in 2004 and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s campaign in 2006, and still is a senior adviser to John McCain. “I’m not too concerned about labor getting real mad at me. It’s not new,” Schmidt says, with a certain wry understatement. He’s also working with the Indian casino tribes who made lucrative deals with the Schwarzenegger administration — tribes that oppose unions that want to organize the burgeoning population of casino hotel and restaurant workers.”