The Center profiled the top consultants hired by state political party and caucus committees in 2003 and 2004.
Feather Larson Synhorst (formerly known as Feather Hodges Larson & Synhorst)
Web site: www.fls-dci.com
People: Tony Feather, partner—political director for the Bush-Cheney 2000 Campaign; Jeff Larson, partner—regional director for the Bush-Quayle 1992 Campaign; Tom Synhorst, partner—advisor to the Bush-Cheney 2000 Campaign and Dole 1988 Campaign
Places: FLS, a telemarketing and fundraising firm based in St. Paul, Minn., and Phoenix, Ariz., has worked for hundreds of Republican candidates and party committees in all 50 states, according to its Web site. In addition, the firm has helped win several governors’ races for such clients as Florida’s Jeb Bush and California’s Arnold Schwarzenegger. The firm has also worked for state legislative committees in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Minnesota among others.
Politics: In 2004, FLS was contracted by the president’s reelection campaign as well as a number of Republican members of Congress such as Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo.). Through one of its partners, Tom Synhorst, FLS is linked to the DCI Group, a Washington, D.C., lobbying group that runs Progress for America—one of the more successful 527 groups that supported the president in 2004 and now advocates for Social Security reform. FLS has conducted a number of issue campaigns as well, including surveying Minnesotans on a new baseball stadium and advocating for casino-style slot machines in south Florida.
Web site: www.amsresponse.com
People: Tom Duchene, president
Places: AMS Response, headquartered in Paramount, Calif., is a direct-mail firm that has worked for a number of political organizations across the ideological spectrum. Primarily a commercial firm, AMS has done mailings not only for state Democratic parties, but also for the national Republican Party. AMS also sent out direct mail for “section 527” groups, such as one linked to the free-market conservative Club for Growth. During 2001-2002, AMS grossed more than $1.2 million overall for its 527 work, but little since then.
Politics: Unlike other direct mail firms, AMS does not pitch itself to one party over the other, to judge from its Web site. AMS was linked to a clever savings plan in 2002: by sending out direct mail via a little-known California non-profit group, the Policy Issues Institute, other political groups were able to save money under U.S. Postal Service discounts of up to 20 percent for non-profit organizations. By including material relevant to PII in at least 25 percent of each mailer and effectively selling the remainder as advertising space, PII and AMS apparently complied with Postal Service regulations. AMS was contracted by the group’s 527 arm, taking in more than $1 million.
The Strategy Group
Web site: www.strategygroup.com
People: Peter Giangreco, partner—worked for presidential campaigns of Gary Hart (1984) and Michael Dukakis (1988); Terry Walsh, partner—campaign manager for Rep. Frank Giglio (D-Ill.) in 1994; Larry Grisolano, partner—campaign manager for Gov. Gray Davis’s 2002 election; Steven Stenberg, partner—Virginia state director for John Edwards’ 2004 presidential campaign
Places: Having worked for the party’s biggest players, the Strategy Group is one of the leading Democrat direct mail firms in the business. With offices in Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles the firm has done consulting work for President Bill Clinton, Vice President Al Gore, and Sen. John Kerry during their presidential runs, as well as Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. Tom Harkin. Strategy also pulled in more than $1.3 million from the Media Fund, a 527 group that supported Kerry in last year’s election.
Politics: Strategy worked with the Accountability Project, a coalition of labor unions and issue advocacy groups, which unseated nine Republicans from Congress in 1998 and 2000. The firm sent out direct mail targeting specific voters, informing them where they felt candidates fell short on issues like raising the minimum wage, breast cancer research, and the Patients’ Bill of Rights.
People: Sam Van Voorhis, president—former Ohio House Republican caucus employee
Places: Though headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, Majority Strategies, a Republican direct-mail firm, is not limited to the Midwest. The group sent out mailers for Rep. Bobby Jindal’s failed 2003 campaign for Louisiana governor, the Tennessee Republican Party, and John Ashcroft’s 2000 losing reelection bid as a Missouri senator, according to media reports. The firm also earned more than $1.3 million from a “section 527” group linked to the National Association of Realtors during the last election.
Politics: State politics in Ohio have been rough lately. Voorhis was subpoenaed last spring in a federal investigation that centered on the Buckeye State’s then-House Speaker Larry Householder. In an anonymous memo that triggered the investigation, Majority Strategies was one of the vendors accused of shuttling kickbacks to Householder by overcharging the Republican House caucus for its direct mail work. As of April 2005, the grand jury investigation was continuing but had not resulted in any charges.
Strategic Fundraising, Inc. (formerly known as Strategic Telecommunications, Inc.)
Web site: www.strategictel.com
People: Dan Rice, founder and chief fundraising officer
Places: Strategic is a leading telephone fundraiser for Republican candidates and committees, including the Republican National Committee, as well as a majority of GOP state parties, according to its Web site. Based in St. Paul, Minn., Strategic also hosts call centers in Eau Claire, Wis., Fargo, N.D., and Springfield, Mo.
Politics: Strategic has worked on local issues as well. Contracted by Columbus Concerned Citizens, a group that opposed nearby gambling projects, the firm canvassed nearly half of the Minnesota town’s addresses and found the majority of residents were against gambling in their community.
James R. Foster & Associates Inc.
Web site: www.jrfinc.com
People: James Foster; Sarah Cunningham; Kelly Thompson; Charlotte Foster
Places: With headquarters in Frisco, Texas, James Foster’s group is a political consulting firm that has worked with Republican candidates and parties. Its clients have included the president’s reelection campaign, the Republican National Committee, the Republican Party of Florida and Gov. Jeb Bush’s 1998 campaign, according to the firm’s Web site. Foster has taken in more than $150,000 from “section 527” groups based in the Sunshine State as well, such as the Florida Freedom Council and the Alliance for Florida’s future.
Politics: Foster’s firm came into the limelight during the 2000 election and the Florida recount. The group sent out a mass mailing of absentee ballot applications to registered Republicans along with a letter from Gov. Jeb Bush encouraging Florida’s citizens to vote conveniently from home. Yet many applications had either incorrect or missing voter identification numbers. Republican staffers later filled in or corrected the numbers before the November election took place—a practice contested by Democrats during the recount process.
MSHC Partners (formerly known as Malchow, Schlackman & Hoppey)
Web site: www.cmshmail.com
People: Hal Malchow, president—former campaign manager for Sen. (later Vice President) Al Gore; Rich Schlackman, partner; Trish Hoppey, partner; Chris Cooper, partner; Joe Fuld, partner—former Democratic National Committee’s Northeast political director; Sarah Giordano, partner
Places: MSHC, a direct-mail firm with offices in Washington, D.C., and San Francisco, Calif., helped Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano get elected in 2002 and placed Internet ads for the Kerry Campaign and the Democratic National Committee in 2004. MSHC has done consulting work for a number of “section 527” liberal, environmentalist and Democratic groups, such as the Sierra Club Voter Education Fund and the Campaign for a Progressive Future, which supports gun control, taking in more than $3.5 million since 2000 from these groups.
Politics: MSHC is short for Malchow, Schlackman, Hoppey and Cooper. Together, the firm has helped win races for 15 governors, 16 senators, and more than 40 Congressmen, according to its Web site. MSHC also worked with a number of liberal organizations, creating political mail for the AFL-CIO, the National Education Association, and NARAL Pro-Choice America.
Media Strategies & Research
Web site: www.mediastrategies.com
People: Jon Hutchens, president; Kyle Osterhout, vice president
Places: An established Democratic media firm, MSR has offices in Denver, Colo., and Fairfax, Va. MSR helped elect Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius with television ads and was the media buyer for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee during the 2002 mid-term elections. Taking in more than $77 million, the firm was the top consultant for “section 527” groups this past election, working with the Media Fund and the MoveOn.org Voter Fund, among others.
Politics: Hutchens is a former campaign staffer for Sen. Hillary Clinton’s 2000 campaign in New York. There he worked with Harold Ickes, a White House deputy chief of staff under Bill Clinton, who helped run the Media Fund for the 2004 election.
Midwest Communications & Media
People: Patty Russell, president; Neil Clark, executive vice president—former Ohio Senate finance director; Bob Clegg, senior vice president
Places: Based in Columbus, Ohio, Midwest is one of the largest Republican media buyers in the country. With their headquarters in the Buckeye State, ground zero for last year’s presidential race, the firm benefited from the attention. “If you compare Ohio to Texas, it’s night and day,” Clegg told the Associated Press in October 2004. “TV is supply and demand. If the TV inventory is tight, you pay a higher price to get on, and if it’s low, you pay a lower price. The presidential campaigns can really have a big impact on that.”
Politics: Through Clark, Midwest is connected to one of the state’s most powerful lobbying firms, State Street Consultants. Clark founded the firm with former state Democratic party chair Paul Tipps. Midwest also bought media time for issue campaigns, such as promoting Ohio Gov. Bob Taft’s Third Frontier program—the 10-year, $1.1 billion initiative to jumpstart the state’s high-end technology industry.
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