For-profit

Dewey Square Group

Website:

https://www.deweysquare.com/

Location:

Boston, Massachusetts

Formation:

1993

Type:

Democratic Political Consultants

Founders:

Chuck Campion, Michael Whouley, Charles Baker

The Dewey Square Group is a Democratic consulting firm [1] that represents Fortune 500 companies [2] and advises political campaigns. The company and its leadership have consulted for numerous Democratic political candidates including working on the presidential campaigns of former Vice President Walter Mondale, then-U.S. Sen. John Kerry, [3] then-Vice President Al Gore, [4] former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and President Bill Clinton. [5]

When Hillary Clinton was considering running for president in 2014, she met with three officials from Dewey Square Group for an assessment of what would be necessary in terms of fund-raising and field operations for her campaign. [6] Politico reported that the 2014 meeting was “the only formal 2016-related presentation Clinton has been given from anyone outside her immediate circle.” [7]

The Dewey Square Group has faced allegations over the years of conducting “astroturfed” campaigns, or the tactic of making a PR firm-directed campaign appear to be a grassroots movement. [8] The firm has been linked to multiple letter-writing campaigns where it was discovered letters were either allegedly forged [9] or written by people who later denied being the author. [10]

Background

Dewey Square Group was founded in Boston, Massachusetts in 1993 by political operatives Chuck Campion, Michael Whouley, and Charles Baker. [11] Advertising giant WPP of London bought Dewey Square Group in 2006. [12] Dewey Square Group has more than 60 employees with offices in six cities and an affiliate in every state. [13]

Leadership

Michael Whouley is CEO of Dewey Square Group and a senior strategist for several national Democratic campaigns. Whouley was the general election director at the Democratic National Committee in 2004 and the chief political strategist for the DNC in 2000. [14]

Whouley has lobbied on behalf of Mastercard and Visa and lobbied Congress to pass a bankruptcy bill that would have made it more difficult for people to discharge credit card debt in bankruptcy. [15] ProPublica reported that Whouley is credited with helping Al Gore win the 2000 New Hampshire presidential primary by having Gore drive through neighborhoods supportive of opponent Bill Bradley while in his Secret Service motorcade to cause traffic jams. [16] Actor Denis Leary portrayed Whouley in the HBO movie Recount. [17]

Baker is president of Dewey Square Group and was the chief administrative officer for Hillary for America from 2015 to 2016 and was a senior advisor to the Democratic National Committee and the presidential campaigns of John Kerry, Al Gore, and President Bill Clinton. [18]

Campion worked for Vice President Walter Mondale as well as Mondale’s 1984 Presidential campaign. [19] He was a co-founder of Dewey Square Group as well as a “key operative” for presidential candidates including Mondale, Kerry, and Hillary Clinton. Campion died in 2018. [20]

Letter-Writing Controversies

Dewey Square Group has been implicated in multiple controversies involving letter-writing campaigns over the years.

Microsoft

The Los Angeles Times implicated Dewey Square Group in a letter-writing campaign in 2001 that tried to convince attorneys general in some of the 18 states that joined the U.S. Justice Department to take it easy on Microsoft for “its conduct as a monopoly.” [21]

The letters were signed by at least two dead people and law enforcement officials became suspicious after noticing the same sentences in numerous letters and that some return addresses were invalid. [22] The Utah attorney general called the campaign “an obvious corporate attempt to manipulate citizen input.” [23]

The letter-writing campaign was part of Microsoft’s plan to influence Congress and prosecutors to agree to a settlement before a court hearing on what the penalty should be for Microsoft’s illegal monopoly tactics relating to its computer operating systems. [24]

Medicare Advantage

Dewey Square Group was involved in a letter-writing campaign in 2009 to block reductions in federal funding of Medicare Advantage healthcare plans, according to the Columbia Journalism Review. [25]

Editors from the Eagle-Tribune in North Andover, Massachusetts checked with letter writers to see if their submissions were legitimate. [26] Editors discovered the Eagle-Tribune received letters from senior citizens who never heard of Medicare Advantage plans. A man named Noah called the Eagle-Tribune and asked if his 75-year-old grandmother’s letter had been published. The editor then called the 75-year-old woman and she said she had no grandson named Noah. Noah was discovered to be an intern for Dewey Square Group. [27] Another senior citizen letter-writer who was contacted by the newspaper said he had never heard of the newspaper he supposedly written. [28]

The left-wing Center for Media and Democracy reported in 2009 that Halifax-Plympton Reporter editor Matthew Nadler discovered that a letter to the editor was not from the senior citizen whose name was attached to it. [29] Nadler said he then received a phone call from another man on behalf of the letter writer. Nadler said the man who called would not say where he worked, but Nadler was able to trace the phone number to the Dewey Square Group. [30] Nadler called the incident “pretty sleazy.” [31]

Commodities Futures Trading Commission

Dewey Square Group was involved in a campaign in 2010 to support legislation that would bring “greater transparency to derivative markets.” [32] A unnamed sub-contractor that was involved in the campaign sent several forged letters to the U.S. Commodities Futures Trading Commission that were supposedly from an executive at Heinz, the owner of a Burger King franchise, a judge, a county sheriff, and others, according to Bloomberg News. [33] Several of the letters repeated the same phrases that criticized banks for a “cartel-like” control of the derivates market. [34]

References

  1. Maggie Haberman. “Hillary Clinton’s Shadow Campaign.” Politico. Jan. 5, 2014. Accessed Oct. 19, 2021. https://www.politico.com/story/2014/01/hillary-clinton-2016-shadow-campaign-101762 ^
  2. WPP of London website. Accessed 10/17/2021. https://www.wpp.com/companies/dewey-square-group-llc ^
  3. Jess Bidgood. “Charles Campion, Campaign Adviser To Democrats, Dies At 62.” New York Times. March 9, 2008. Accessed Oct. 11, 2021. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/09/obituaries/charles-campion-campaign-adviser-to-democrats-dies-at-62.html ^
  4. Alec MacGillis. “Insurance Lobby That Fought Hillarycare And Obamacare Now Has Sturdy Bridges To Democrats.” ProPublica. Aug. 13, 2015. Accessed 10/15/2021. https://www.propublica.org/article/insurance-lobby-has-sturdy-bridges-to-democrats ^
  5. Dewey Square Group. Accessed 10/18/2021. https://www.deweysquare.com/team/charles-baker/ ^
  6. Maggie Haberman. “Hillary Clinton’s Shadow Campaign.” Politico. Jan. 5, 2014. Accessed Oct. 19, 2021. https://www.politico.com/story/2014/01/hillary-clinton-2016-shadow-campaign-101762 ^
  7. Maggie Haberman. “Hillary Clinton’s Shadow Campaign.” Politico. Jan. 5, 2014. Accessed Oct. 19, 2021. https://www.politico.com/story/2014/01/hillary-clinton-2016-shadow-campaign-101762 ^
  8. Trudy Lieberman. “A Laurel To The Eagle-Tribune.” Columbia Journalism Review. April 24, 2009. Accessed Oct. 13, 2021. https://archives.cjr.org/campaign_desk/a_laurel_to_the_eagletribune.php ^
  9. Brush, Sila and Benson, Clea. “Forged Comment Letters Sent To Regulators Writing Swaps Rules.” Bloomberg News. Nov. 30. 2010. Accessed Oct. 15, 2021.  https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2010-11-30/forged-comment-letters-sent-to-u-s-regulators-writing-derivatives-rules ^
  10. Trudy Lieberman. “A Laurel To The Eagle-Tribune.” Columbia Journalism Review. April 24, 2009. Accessed Oct. 13, 2021. https://archives.cjr.org/campaign_desk/a_laurel_to_the_eagletribune.php ^
  11. Todd Wallack. “Dewey To Be Part Of.” Boston Globe. Sept. 25, 2012. Accessed Oct. 18, 2021. ^
  12. Todd Wallack. “Dewey To Be Part Of.” Boston Globe. Sept. 25, 2012. Accessed Oct. 18, 2021. ^
  13. WPP of London. Accessed 10/17/2021. https://www.wpp.com/companies/dewey-square-group-llc ^
  14. Dewey Square Group. Accessed 10/17/2021. https://www.deweysquare.com/team/michael-whouley/ ^
  15. Shannon Feaster. Nathaniel Heller. Annys Shin. Marianne Holt. “Party Machines, Lobbyists And Special Interests: Part Five.” Center for Public Integrity. March 2, 2000. Accessed Oct. 15, 2021. https://publicintegrity.org/politics/party-machines-lobbyists-and-special-interests-part-five/ ^
  16. Alec MacGillis. “Insurance Lobby That Fought Hillarycare And Obamacare Now Has Sturdy Bridges To Democrats.” ProPublica. Aug. 13, 2015. Accessed 10/15/2021. https://www.propublica.org/article/insurance-lobby-has-sturdy-bridges-to-democrats ^
  17. Matt Hurwitz. “HBO ‘Recounts’ The Journey Of The Dimpled Chad.” Associated Press. May 21, 2008. Accessed 10/17/2021. ^
  18. Dewey Square Group homepage. Accessed Oct. 18, 2021. https://www.deweysquare.com/team/charles-baker/ ^
  19. James C. Fitzpatrick. “Council Not Aware Of Lobbyist” Kansas City Star. June 5, 1993. Accessed Oct. 11, 2021. ^
  20. Jess Bidgood. “Charles Campion, Campaign Adviser To Democrats, Dies At 62.” New York Times.  March 9, 2008. Accessed Oct. 11, 2021. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/09/obituaries/charles-campion-campaign-adviser-to-democrats-dies-at-62.html ^
  21. Joseph Menn. Edmund Sanders. “Letter Campaign By Microsoft Corp. Prompts Criticism.” Los Angeles Times. Aug. 25, 2001. Accessed Oct. 12, 2021. ^
  22. Joseph Menn. Edmund Sanders. “Letter Campaign By Microsoft Corp. Prompts Criticism.” Los Angeles Times. Aug. 25, 2001. Accessed Oct. 12, 2021. ^
  23. Joseph Menn. Edmund Sanders. “Letter Campaign By Microsoft Corp. Prompts Criticism.” Los Angeles Times. Aug. 25, 2001. Accessed Oct. 12, 2021. ^
  24. Joseph Menn. Edmund Sanders. “Letter Campaign By Microsoft Corp. Prompts Criticism.” Los Angeles Times. Aug. 25, 2001. Accessed Oct. 12, 2021. ^
  25. Trudy Lieberman. “A Laurel To The Eagle-Tribune.” Columbia Journalism Review. April 24, 2009. Accessed Oct. 13, 2021. https://archives.cjr.org/campaign_desk/a_laurel_to_the_eagletribune.php ^
  26. Trudy Lieberman. “A Laurel To The Eagle-Tribune.” Columbia Journalism Review. April 24, 2009. Accessed Oct. 13, 2021. https://archives.cjr.org/campaign_desk/a_laurel_to_the_eagletribune.php ^
  27. Trudy Lieberman. “A Laurel To The Eagle-Tribune.” Columbia Journalism Review. April 24, 2009. Accessed Oct. 13, 2021. https://archives.cjr.org/campaign_desk/a_laurel_to_the_eagletribune.php ^
  28. Trudy Lieberman. “A Laurel To The Eagle-Tribune.” Columbia Journalism Review. April 24, 2009. Accessed Oct. 13, 2021. https://archives.cjr.org/campaign_desk/a_laurel_to_the_eagletribune.php ^
  29. Diane Farsetta. “Dewey Square Caught Astroturfing Again.” Center for Media and Democracy. PR Watch. April 1, 2009. Accessed Oct. 14, 2021. https://www.prwatch.org/spin/2009/04/8312/dewey-square-caught-astroturfing-again ^
  30. Diane Farsetta. “Dewey Square Caught Astroturfing Again.” Center for Media and Democracy. PR Watch. April 1, 2009. Accessed Oct. 14, 2021. https://www.prwatch.org/spin/2009/04/8312/dewey-square-caught-astroturfing-again ^
  31. Diane Farsetta. “Dewey Square Caught Astroturfing Again.” Center for Media and Democracy. PR Watch. April 1, 2009. Accessed Oct. 14, 2021. https://www.prwatch.org/spin/2009/04/8312/dewey-square-caught-astroturfing-again ^
  32. Brush, Sila and Benson, Clea. “Forged Comment Letters Sent To Regulators Writing Swaps Rules.” Bloomberg News. Nov. 30. 2010. Accessed Oct. 15, 2021.  https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2010-11-30/forged-comment-letters-sent-to-u-s-regulators-writing-derivatives-rules ^
  33. [1] Brush, Sila and Benson, Clea. “Forged Comment Letters Sent To Regulators Writing Swaps Rules.” Bloomberg News. Nov. 30. 2010. Accessed Oct. 15, 2021.  https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2010-11-30/forged-comment-letters-sent-to-u-s-regulators-writing-derivatives-rules ^
  34. Brush, Sila and Benson, Clea. “Forged Comment Letters Sent To Regulators Writing Swaps Rules.” Bloomberg News. Nov. 30. 2010. Accessed Oct. 15, 2021.  https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2010-11-30/forged-comment-letters-sent-to-u-s-regulators-writing-derivatives-rules ^
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