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Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Sestak's Press Secretary works for Sandy Berger

From the Weldon Congressional Campaign:

Sestak’s spokesperson, Allison Price, is Director of Communications at Sandy Berger’s DC Consulting and Lobbying Firm.

Michael Puppio, Delaware County Chairman of Congressman Curt Weldon’s reelection campaign, today questioned Democrat candidate Joe Sestak’s ties to Stonebridge International, a Washington, DC based consulting and lobbying firm. Sestak’s spokesperson Allison Price is the Director of Communications at the firm, which was founded by former Clinton Administration official Sandy Berger, who was convicted of mishandling and destroying classified evidence related to the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Allison Price, Sestak’s official campaign spokesperson, is listed on the lobbying and consulting firm’s website as its Director of Communications, which would seem to indicate a conflict of interest. Among its numerous clients, the firm is a registered lobbyist before Congress on behalf of French aircraft manufacturer Airbus, The Boeing Company’s major international rival in the production of civilian aircraft. The firm also lobbies on behalf of Gulfsands Petroleum, a company with oil interests and projects in Iraq and the Syrian Arab Republic. In addition, to Sestak’s spokesperson’s ties to the firm, the principal of Stonebridge International, Sandy Berger hosted a major fundraiser for Sestak in Washington, DC that raised tens of thousands of dollars for Sestak’s campaign.

“Joe Sestak has been in the race only two months and he’s already cozying up to special interests,” said Michael Puppio. “I’m not sure how Joe Sestak can justify having a campaign spokesperson who works at a major DC lobbying firm. Beyond supplying campaign staffers, is Stonebridge International also helping to craft Joe Sestak’s policy positions? This just doesn’t pass the smell test.”

Joseph Sestak’s federal campaign filings list his spokesperson Allison Price, who donated $500 to his campaign, as a consultant with Stonebridge International. The company’s website also lists Allison Price as its “Director of Communications,” noting that she “manages the firm’s communications strategies and plans.” A telephone call placed to the offices of Stonebridge International also transferred one of Congressman Weldon’s campaign staffers to Allison. (http://www.stonebridge-international.com/bios/bio25.html)

“First Joe Sestak accepts money from an individual who mishandled and destroyed classified information,” said Puppio, referring to Berger’s federal conviction. “Now it seems he’s running part of his communications efforts out of that lobbyist’s office. It will be interesting to see if his campaign finance reports list this as an in-kind contribution.”

Last week, Joe Sestak stated that there needs to be “full transparency between members and lobbyists.” But to date, he has not disclosed anything regarding his own relationship with Stonebridge International and how it relates to his campaign spokesperson.

“Joe Sestak is already aligning himself with Washington special interest groups,” said Puppio. “Sestak is now indebted to a firm lobbying on behalf of French company Airbus, which is competing with Boeing on a variety of contracts, potentially resulting in the loss of jobs here in Delaware County. Given his relationship with Stonebridge, I have no confidence that Joe Sestak is going to put the interests of local residents and Boeing workers above those of his lobbying friends in Washington.”

Puppio also questioned Stonebridge’s representation of Gulfsands Petroleum, which has interests in Iraq and the Syrian Arab Republic.

“Local residents deserve to know if Sandy Berger or any other employee of Stonebridge has talked to Joe Sestak about Iraq, the Middle East, and oil prices,” said Puppio. “We don’t know what Gulfsands agenda is in Washington or the Middle East and how it is impacting Joe Sestak’s position on these issues. Voters have the right to know how Sestak is being influenced by these groups.”

Last week, Weldon questioned Sestak’s campaign contributions from recently dismissed CIA analyst Mary McCarthy, who was fired from her position within the intelligence community for illegally leaking classified information and materials that may have endangered counter-terrorism operations. McCarthy was hired to her position in the CIA by Sandy Berger. When Weldon urged Sestak to return the campaign contribution, Sestak’s spokesperson, Allison Price, told The Hill newspaper that “McCarthy gave because she thought much needs to change in Congress.”

“Delaware County residents deserve to know the type of people who want Joe Sestak in Congress and what their agendas are,” said Puppio. “Congressman Weldon has consistently put local resident first, through job creation, and funding local transportation and open space protection initiatives. Most importantly, you know that Curt is his own man, he’s an independent who speaks his mind. I’m not so sure that’s the case with Joe Sestak.”