(AFP) – Nov 19, 2011
NEW YORK — A top US lobbying firm tied to the financial industry pitched a $850,000 plan to smear the Occupy Wall Street movement and discredit sympathetic politicians, MSNBC television reported Saturday.
A memo written on the letterhead of well-known Washington lobbying firm Clark Lytle Geduldig & Cranford urged the American Bankers Association (ABA), a client, to conduct "opposition research" on Occupy Wall Street in order to construct "negative narratives" about the protests and its political backers.
Warning that the movement could lead to weakened support for Wall Street among both Democratic and Republican politicians, the four-page memo targeted specific states where the outcome of 2012 elections could have a major impact on the financial sector.
If Democrats make the OWS movement's anti-capitalist message a centerpiece of their campaigns, "this would mean more than just short-term political discomfort for Wall Street," said the memo posted on MSNBC's website.
"It has the potential to have very long-lasting political, policy and financial impacts on the companies in the center of the bullseye."
Occupy Wall Street has insisted it wants to remain independent.
The 60-day plan outlined in the memo proposed to conduct research and surveys on OWS and its supporters in order for Wall Street firms to be ready to respond to the movement with a coordinated media campaign.
The lobbyists also warned the ABA -- who reportedly rejected the proposal -- that President Barack Obama's reelection campaign and his fellow Democrats do not pose the greatest danger to Wall Street.
Rather, "the bigger concern should be that Republicans will no longer defend Wall Street companies."
And it urged the ABA to take heed of OWS, which launched two months ago in the heart of New York's financial district, where protesters camped and marched against social inequality, corporate greed and corruption, inspiring similar action in other US cities and overseas.
"It may be easy to dismiss OWS as a ragtag group of protesters, but they are very nimble and capable of working the media, coordinating third party support and engaging office holders to do their bidding," it said.
MSNBC noted that two of the memo's authors, Sam Geduldig and Jay Cranford, worked for House Speaker John Boehner before joining the lobbying firm, while the third, Steve Clark, is said to have ties to the leading Republican.
ABA spokesman Jeff Sigmund told MSNBC that the industry trade group had received the "unsolicited" proposal and chosen "not to act on it in any way."
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