Axelrod profiting from ObamaCare already?

posted at 11:36 am on August 19, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

Who says the Obama White House hates profiteers?  It just depends on who gets the profit, it seems.  Bloomberg reports that the White House has hired a couple of ad firms to push its message on ObamaCare, and just by sheer coincidence, one of them owes Barack Obama’s adviser David Axelrod a whole lot of money.  They also employ his son:

Two firms that received $343.3 million to handle advertising for Barack Obama’s White House run last year have profited from his top priority as president by taking on his push for health-care overhaul.

One is AKPD Message and Media, the Chicago-based firm headed by David Axelrod until he left last Dec. 31 to serve as a senior adviser to the president. Axelrod was Obama’s top campaign strategist and is now helping sell the health-care plan. The other firm is Washington-based GMMB Campaign Group, where partner Jim Margolis was also an Obama strategist.

This year, AKPD and GMMB received $12 million in advertising business from Healthy Economy Now, a coalition that includes the Washington-based Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers of America, known as PhRMA, that is seeking to build support for a health-care overhaul, said the coalition’s spokesman, Jeremy Van Ess. …

Axelrod was president and sole shareholder of AKPD from 1985 until he sold his interest after Obama’s victory, government records show. The firm owes Axelrod $2 million, which it’s due to pay in installments beginning Dec. 31. Axelrod’s son, Michael, still works there. He didn’t return a phone call. The firm’s Web site continues to feature David Axelrod’s work on the Obama campaign.

Sheer coincidence, I’m sure.  Just like George Soros positioning himself for Petrobras dividends a few days before Obama decided to loan the Brazilian company $2 billion for offshore drilling was nothing more than a random juxtaposition of investment and public policy.  Nothing to see here, folks!  MoveOn!

When Dick Cheney was Vice President, the Left howled when Halliburton continued to receive contracts from the Army, almost all of them competitive-bid situations, claiming that Cheney’s deferred compensation created a conflict of interest — even though Halliburton had placed those funds in a separate escrow.  If the Left thought the Cheney-Halliburton connection smelled funny, they must really have their noses out of joint with a White House that uses public money to enrich a close adviser’s son and ensure his own deferred compensation without a bidding process in place to manage it.

I’m waiting for the outrage to erupt.  Waiting.  Waiting.  Waiting …. Wait, I have to breathe sometime.

Politico follows the money  (h/t Allahpundit):

A separate firm, GMMB, is also handling the campaigns. Both AKPD and GMMB did millions of dollars of work on Obama’s presidential campaign, continue to tout their connections to the campaign and still maintain close ties to his inner circle.

The two firms were hired to make the health-care ads by a pair of linked coalitions supporting Obama’s health-care overhaul proposal—Healthy Economy Now and a newer offshoot unveiled last week called Americans for Stable Quality Care.

The Associated Press reported this month that Healthy Economy Now paid AKPD and GMMB to produce a $12 million national ad campaign echoing White House talking points supporting the health care overhaul.

And a spokesman for Americans for Stable Quality Care, which essentially supplanted the now-defunct Healthy Economy Now, confirmed that it is using the two Obama-linked firms to produce and air a separate $12 million ad campaign launched Thursday designed to shore up support among the conservative House Blue Dog Democrats and to target swing senators. The ad, which is airing in a dozen states, is the opening salvo in a campaign planned for this fall that will cost tens of millions of dollars more.

Why is the White House buying advertising at all?  And if they are, why are they funneling it through an alphabet soup of organizations?  For a President who talked so much about transparency, the money trail is about as opaque as it gets.  It looks as though someone wanted to try some misdirection to keep from connecting the dots back to Axelrod.

Michelle has much more on this.

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You’re full of bandersnatch.

And are frumius to boot.

profitsbeard on August 19, 2009 at 12:23 PM

Is that a Jabberwocky reference? I haven’t heard of that since 4th grade.

Shock the Monkey on August 19, 2009 at 12:27 PM

Hey, where’s the “Cheney/Halliburton are criminals” media???

marklmail on August 19, 2009 at 12:36 PM

Take one part weasel and one part Hitler.
Both in looks AND character.

PaddyJ on August 19, 2009 at 12:37 PM

Why is the White House buying advertising at all?

Dictators care about public perception. Hugo Chavez demonizes his rich folk and took over radio stations to get his message out.

Guess the PR firms in Venezuela suck.

HondaV65 on August 19, 2009 at 12:39 PM

Shock the Monkey at 12:27 PM


Dead on, bro.

We went down the O’rabbit hole last November.

profitsbeard on August 19, 2009 at 12:39 PM

There is vast new profitable market for conservative thought. With some balls anyone of you conservative bloggers can be the next big thing. Just got to get out of the wake of the news cycle and make your own waves…

Step it up

Ed Graef on August 19, 2009

Ed, how do you quantify the victory you speak of? The Dems have managed to make preexisting conditions, denial of coverage once sick, and general reform the agreed goals.

The Dems have moved the debate to where they want it. Public option is a red herring that the rank and file gop shot at wildly because the leadership had already abdicated and let the most bellicose voices vent ani-Obama rhetoric instead of setting out their own definitions of what reform shoul intail. Instead of reclaiming the terms of the debate the gop let the teabaggers loose.

When republicans start talking about fake issues and red herrings it is very difficult to claim victory.

The problem you have with news wake is only compounded when the gop leadership refuses to manage the messaging when opposing Obama.

Karl rove once famously talked about creating reality that forced the opposition to play catch up.

Instead of expecting conservative bloggers to shape a narrative, perhaps creating a more agile reaction strategy would be more productive.

For example….Despite the sound and fury signifying noting over the GM/Chrysler nationalizations, where has the conservative leadership been since?

Is it possible our constant rage posture is a little transparent when every ‘loss’ is swept under the rug before the new battle is joined?

Where are the watchdog bloggers following up on these boondoggles?

Where are the tv pundits, fox news anchors, and bloggers talking about the failures that where forewarned by conservative objectors?

When fear and fury isn’t matched by a corresponding horrific failure, maybe, just maybe we look alarmist, reactionary, and obstructionist.

frumian on August 19, 2009 at 12:41 PM

The hypocracy from the left is staggering and beyond all measure! I am confident that most Americans see the conflicts of interest in the Whitehouse and will vote accordingly. Electing a leftist president, I must admit, was beyond stupid bordering on the suicidal!!!!

JonR on August 19, 2009 at 12:42 PM

We went down the O’rabbit hole last November.

profitsbeard on August 19, 2009 at 12:39 PM

I’m oiling up my Vorpal Blade as we speak.

TMK on August 19, 2009 at 12:43 PM

one of them owes Barack Obama’s adviser David Axelrod a whole lot of money. They also employ his son:

They also deal in “Message Delivery”:

Digital Communications

ASK has experience with the most sophisticated and effective digital communications programs in the market today.


With our digital communications campaigns, ASK has:

Developed websites rich in content and design that explore in detail all the messages our clients need to communicate to win their campaigns
Written customized electronic communications and mass email distribution.
Created individual blogs that express our clients’ personalities and views in a way that emphasizes their unique messages.
Managed online fundraising campaigns.

misslizzi on August 19, 2009 at 12:54 PM

I think my ‘Easy Button’ is broke. I keep pressing it, but every time I do more fit hits the shan. I’m calling that Staples crew to complain.

j_galt on August 19, 2009 at 12:57 PM

I don’t see it mentioned, so I’ll ask: who purchased Axelrod’s interest in this entity? If a family member did, Axelrod could have a significant federal gift tax problem. The purchase price was probably based on a appraisal of its fair market value based on general business conditions. However, given Axelrod’s apparent ability to funnel the entity limitless federal tax dollars, the IRS would have an interesting argument for adjusting the fair market value of the interest upward–in which case Axelrod would be transferring value far exceeding the negotiated purchase price. So if that purchaser was a family member, I’d argue that he’s making a huge taxable gift to that family member.

Anyone know who the buyer is?

BuckeyeSam on August 19, 2009 at 1:07 PM

So if that purchaser was a family member, I’d argue that he’s making a huge taxable gift to that family member.

Anyone know who the buyer is?

BuckeyeSam on August 19, 2009 at 1:07 PM

The other partners in the firm bought his stake.

If we admired the practices and performance of Bush admin officials like Rove and Cheney, we should at least have a grudging respect for Ax.

It’s hard to argue Ax has a conflict of interest when we defended Cheney when his former company, a company still paying him, was awarded Billions in no bid government contracts.

Here this isn’t even fed money, it is activist cash.

I know people here like progressoverpeace think looking like hypocrites is irrelevant. Throwing bombs and hoping the number that hit the enemy out number those that hit friendlies is the way to go….but it is hard to convince anyone not already in the choir taking this route.

frumian on August 19, 2009 at 1:20 PM

I simply cannot stomach Axelrod. He is the proverbial snake in the grass. Suits him to a tee. Everytime I see his face I want to puke.

NJ Red on August 19, 2009 at 1:20 PM

Then bend over.

Patrick S on August 19, 2009 at 11:42 AM


NJ Red on August 19, 2009 at 1:24 PM

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain…

juanito on August 19, 2009 at 1:26 PM

What really pisses me off is the fact that Obama’s so willing to piss our money away, he’s throwing it away on Brazillians. If he’s so desperate to see offshore drilling, why couldn’t he have floated that money to an AMERICAN corporation? Better yet, why couldn’t he have just gotten his dumb ass out of the way of ‘Big Oil’ and let them do what they do best, without government subsidies? Obama is a thoroughly reprehensible little man, who means America ill. And Soros? A bigger crook you’d be hard-pressed to find. Why he’s constantly protected from a complete and thorough Department of Justice investigation, I don’t know. I guess it must be the payola.

Virus-X on August 19, 2009 at 1:28 PM

True story:

The K in AKPD stands for John Kupper. Kupper got his start in Illinois politics working for former Rep. Lane Evans back in the 1980s. I dated him briefly. Great guy, but he could not handle a relationship with a Republican (and I wasn’t even that conservative then, though I was working in the Reagan Administration.) He’s a real hardcore leftwing Democrat. I had lost track of him until the Obama campaign got going and I saw him quoted in some stories.

rockmom on August 19, 2009 at 1:40 PM

RICO time!

coldwarrior on August 19, 2009 at 1:48 PM

When republicans start talking about fake issues and red herrings it is very difficult to claim victory

frumian on August 19, 2009 at 12:41 PM

Fake issues? Such as health care or climate change? Doesn’t the party in charge determine the relevant issues in Congress? Who put those ideas into play? Was it the GOP or the Democratically controlled executive and representative branches?

Wasn’t last year’s crisis the War in Iraq. By the way, where BO’s exit strategy – the one he promised and conveniently forgotten? Where’s the moral outrage? Was it left on Cindy Sheehan’s little shoulders? I guess it’s been channeled towards “40 million uninsured” and next year’s “crisis of undocumented Americans.”

For a party with a super-majority, the Democrats certainly have a problem selling what they are purposively mandated to do. Please explain how the party that controls the issues can’t get it’s bills out of committee or convince at least half of its constituents? Maybe the GOP is currently the party of “no” but the Democrats appear to be the party of “skim it over and rush it through.”

Vera71 on August 19, 2009 at 1:51 PM

Remind you of Dick Cheney and Haliburton? Let’s if the MSM goes after this with the same furor.

willy v on August 19, 2009 at 2:00 PM

Obama is going to go down on record as the worst president ever.

SC.Charlie on August 19, 2009 at 2:04 PM

What’s the big deal? We all know that the Dims are more virtuous and really care more about us so why wouldn’t they be more equal and deserving of rewards than the unwashed masses in their Brooks Brothers attire? I’m sure they’d never let it influence anything.

Time to get radical and start to shrink all government.

gonegaltinstl on August 19, 2009 at 2:07 PM

PS, /sacr now off.

gonegaltinstl on August 19, 2009 at 2:08 PM

Vera71 on August 19, 2009 at 1:51 PM

Sorry I wasn’t clearer. The fake issues I’m talking about are preexisting conditions, denial of care, and the notion that the insurers need to have tighter regs governing their operation.

The gop has conceded these points and some here have declared victory because a red herring called the ‘public option’ is in trouble.

As for the Dems having trouble…I think you are misinterpreting this kabuki show.

The Dems haven’t been sopped yet. Nothing, nada, zip, zilch has been stopped.

what we are witnessing is the marginalization of the gop and the Dems pretending they are being reigned in by their own. Not the fringe extremist GOP, who are too busy calling Obama a Kenyan Nazi to offer any meaningful opposition.

Yay we are winning. Not.

willy v on August 19, 2009 at 2:00 PM

Did/do you have a problem with Cheney’s actions re Haliburton and no bid government contracts?

If not why would you make an issue of activist bucks going to the firm that just proved competent enough to get an Obama elected?

frumian on August 19, 2009 at 2:14 PM

Does anyone know of a way to get these stories into the mainstream media? I know it has a snowball’s chance, but if enough of us repeatedly send the story, could it make it into the news?

MississippiMom on August 19, 2009 at 2:33 PM

None of you really thought old Ax would work for the White House pay alone did you? It’s payback time…or should I say pay up time.

KJW on August 19, 2009 at 3:33 PM

Axelrod looks like one of the pervs from “To Catch A Predator”. Dude is a definite pedophile.

barrythrowslikeagirl on August 19, 2009 at 4:44 PM

Axelrod.Nice name.On prison issues.

clorensen on August 19, 2009 at 5:08 PM

another day with the soap opera: As the Stomach Turns on August 19, 2009 at 6:55 PM

If these firms have been responsible for crafting Obama’s message from day one why would they go to new firms if there are no legal or ethical obstacles using their existing contacts?
Why would they go to ANY firms? They’ve got the flippin bully pulpit. Why are they spending money on this?

Dee2008 on August 19, 2009 at 12:20 PM

It’s simply called Obamanomics wealth redistribution 101:

Tax the middle class and distribute major funds to lackeys in the soon to be nouveau riche ruling class.

Sweet_Thang on August 19, 2009 at 9:13 PM