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August 30, 2011

3M Claims Democratic Lobbyist, Talking Head, and Former Clinton Staffer Lanny Davis Tried to Extort $30 Million From It

And I think this is standard operating practice. Do what we want, or we will make government trouble for you.

3M claims an investment company conspired with high-powered lobbyist Lanny Davis in a smear campaign to "coerce" it into paying "tens of millions of dollars ... to save them from the consequences of yet another unprofitable investment," a screening test for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus...

Davis, who worked as a special counsel for President Clinton from 1996 to 1998, has lobbied for a string of controversial clients since leaving the White House, including African dictators, military coup supporters in Honduras, and the government of Pakistan.

This report does not specify the interest of the parties here. It is my guess that 3M entered into some agreement with a company Davis lobbied for, to test and then distribute their drug; they decided it wasn't commercially viable, and terminated the agreement, and then Davis went to work to pressure them into reversing that decision.

I assume the termination of the contract wasn't a breach at all, because I don't see any mention of suing over a broken contract.

After attacking them in the press, it is alleged, they got more direct:

"Defendants' illicit campaign has included overt threats of reprisals by holders of large blocks of 3M stock; public demonstrations by paid individuals posing as victims of an altogether fabricated public health 'issue' allegedly created by 3M's decision to discontinue selling a product no one wanted...

And so forth. And then they kicked it up a notch.

3M adds: "When these tactics failed to yield the financial windfall defendants sought, they resorted to making extortionate demands upon 3M." It claims that Boulter and Davis then "acted together" to make a "crude extortion attempt" by "sending to 3M's counsel an unsolicited e-mail in which Boulter claimed that the British Minister of Defence had instructed Boulter to inform 3M that if it did not pay over $30 million, the Minister of Defence would interfere with 3M's ability to do business with the British government. He also threatened that the British government would reconsider the recently announced call to knighthood of Buckley. This crude extortion attempt threatened both to embarrass Buckley and to tarnish 3M's most valuable asset, its corporate brand."

Sounds a lot like a form of privateering. Well-connected individuals, acting with other pals in government, pirate money away from companies and people. And it's kinda-sorta legal, if you have enough friends in government.

Via Ben Smith.


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posted by Ace at 02:02 PM

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