Chicago to K Street

Axelrod's old firm expands turf

By Steve Rhodes
|  Tuesday, Oct 20, 2009  |  Updated 2:03 PM CDT
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Team Obama

Getty Images for Meet the Press

David Axelrod, senior White House adviser, was part of a lobbying group now moving to DC.

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Update: A previous version of this article implied that ASGK was a lobbying firm. This is incorrect. ASKG is a communications management firm.

Nobody railed more against lobbyists - particularly those of the Washington, D.C., variety - during the 2008 presidential primaries and general campaign than Barack Obama. And he did so using rhetoric crafted in part by media maven David Axelrod.

Now Axelrod's former communications management firm is opening a Washington, D.C., office on K Street, the famed "Gucci Gulch" of federal lobbyists.

Axelrod has divested himself of his former ASK Public Strategies, but old partners Eric Sedler and John Kupper remain - the "S" and "K" in the company name. Axelrod's "A" is staying and now the firm will be known as ASKG Public Strategies, with the addition of Larry Grisolano, a direct-mail mogul who worked "press and research" for Mayor Daley's 1991 re-election campaign.

Sedler is formerly of Edelman public relations and AT&T, according to SourceWatch. The firm specialized in creating faux grass-roots campaigns that were really tools of their corporate clients - astroturfing, as it's called. Sort of like the Obama campaign.

"I reject the notion that a company can't advocate a public policy," Sedler told the now-defunct BusinessWeek Chicago last year. "These issues are complicated, and people have different points of view." 

And if, say, health insurance companies need the help of folks like Sedler, well, so be it.

After all, the University of Chicago Hospitals hired Axelrod to help Michelle Obama clear their ER of so many unprofitable patients.

More recently, Sedler worked on "communication management" and "communication planning" for Chicago's 2016 Olympic bid.

So the ASKG boys will feel right at home when they visit their K Street office. Washington, D.C. after all, has just become a satellite city of Chicago.

Steve Rhodes is the proprietor of The Beachwood Reporter, a Chicago-centric news and culture review.

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