Edwards raps Clinton over Blackwater tie

Edwards raps Clinton over Blackwater tie
October 6th, 2007  

Topic: Edwards raps Clinton over Blackwater tie

Edwards raps Clinton over Blackwater tie

Edwards raps Clinton over Blackwater tie

By MIKE GLOVER, Associated Press WriterFri Oct 5, 6:55 PM ET

Democrat John Edwards said Friday the top strategist for presidential rival Hillary Rodham Clinton has ties to the controversial Blackwater security firm, and warned against installing "a group of corporate Democrats" to replace the Bush White House.
Edwards suggested similarities between Clinton, the Democratic front-runner, and the Republican president.
"George Bush has been a perfect example of cronyism because Blackwater has given hundreds of thousands of dollars to Republicans and to President Bush," he said in an interview with The Associated Press.
"I also saw this morning that Senator Clinton's primary adviser, Mark Penn, who is like her Karl Rove, his firm is representing Blackwater."
"It is the reason I continue to say we don't want to replace a group of corporate Republicans with a group of corporate Democrats," he said. Blackwater is a private security firm whose employees have been accused of using their weapons too aggressively against Iraqi civilians and police.
Penn, Clinton's pollster and senior strategist, is the worldwide president of Burson-Marsteller, a public relations firm. A subsidiary, BKSH, helped prepare Blackwater founder Erik Prince for a contentious congressional hearing this week, but Burson-Marsteller says the relationship has ended.
Clinton's spokesman, Howard Wolfson, said Penn had done no work on the Blackwater account.
"Burson has cut its ties to Blackwater and that was the right thing to do," Wolfson said. "Mark is and remains a valuable member of our team."
Penn's association with Burson has caused headaches for the Clinton campaign in the past.
The firm represents corporate clients accused of union-busting activity, as well as tobacco giant Philip Morris. While Penn says he does not personally work on any accounts that could be construed as anti-labor, labor leaders including Teamsters president James Hoffa have publicly expressed concern about his involvement with the campaign.
Edwards made his comments as he campaigned in Iowa, where caucuses early next year will provide the first test of the campaign for the crowded field of presidential rivals.
He called for a ban to prevent private security companies from donating to politicians, alleging that Blackwater won lucrative contracts in Iraq after becoming a reliable contributor to the GOP.
Edwards also said he favors steps that would virtually eliminate the use of private contractors to provide security services for government officials in Iraq. Private forces have spiraled out of control, he said, with more than 50,000 operating in Iraq with few restrictions.
Wolfson said Clinton, too, favors curbs on Blackwater.
"Senator Clinton believes Blackwater must be held accountable for its actions and has laid out a detailed proposal to sharply reduce the number of contractors employed by the federal government by 500,000," he said.

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