Hillary Clinton’s chief campaign strategist linked to Dubai-based sovereign wealth fund

During Tuesday night’s Democratic presidential debate, Hillary Clinton said she was “very concerned” about so-called sovereign wealth funds, the investment vehicles owned by foreign governments like Singapore, China, and the United Arab Emirates. Clinton called for “aggressive new” measures to reign in the funds, which are now buying significant chunks of American companies such as Citigroup.

Despite Clinton’s tough talk, her chief campaign strategist agreed in late 2006 to use the influence of his lobbying firm to support several a multi-billion dollar investment fund owned by the government of Dubai as it sought to expand to global markets.

The Clinton strategist, pollster/lobbyist Mark Penn, is the worldwide CEO of Burson-Marsteller, one of the most powerful lobbying and public relations firms in the world.

Burson-Marsteller’s exclusive Middle East public relations partner represents Dubai International Capital’s Global Strategic Equities Fund, a sovereign wealth fund. Burson-Marsteller’s local public relations partner is JiWin Public Relations, which shares office space in Dubai with the company. JiWin and Burson-Marsteller formed an exclusive partnership in late 2006.

According to their partnership agreement, “JiWin will work with Burson-Marsteller clients across the United Arab Emirates, Gulf Cooperation Council States (GCC) and the Levant.”

In return, “Burson-Marsteller will support JiWin clients as they seek to expand to global markets.”

At the time, Penn welcomed the deal enthusiastically. “We are excited about our new partnership with JiWin and welcome them into our global network,” he said. “The UAE, GCC and the Levant all hold compelling prospects for our business and our clients and we look forward to further expanding our broad range of public relations services into this region.”

In addition to his work as a lobbyist, Penn has been a senior political advisor to both Bill and Hillary Clinton since the mid-1990s.

Penn was Clinton’s chief strategist in both 2000 and 2006. He is currently the chief strategist of her presidential campaign.

Last year, Penn said that his close ties to Hillary Clinton were “good for business.”

A growing number of these sovereign wealth funds are using oil money to snatch up big chunks of key assets in the United States. For example, here in Las Vegas, Dubai World now owns half of MGM Grand’s CityCenter project.

During the debate, Clinton made no mention of Penn’s ties to the Dubai-based sovereign wealth fund.

(9:12pm — Updated several times. Again at 9.44pm adding video. 10.35, updated again for clarity.)


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