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Personnel Profile: Dan Newman

You went from being the communications director of Phil Angelides’ gubernatorial campaign to working in the same role for the law firm Lerach Coughlin Stoia Geller Rudman & Robbins, whose lead partner, William Lerach, faced indictment. How did you make that transition?

I know it sounds cheesy, but I’m a former Peace Corps volunteer and I’ve always tried to work for people and projects that I believe in. So working for the world’s leading plaintiffs firm was a natural transition because Coughlin Stoia is packed with hundreds of the smartest, hardest-working, most talented, moral and honorable lawyers on Earth, all battling every day for investors and consumers who’ve been screwed by powerful multinational corporations.

How do you fall into the press-communications niche in the campaign/public-affairs world?

I’m just not qualified to do anything else. I’d rather play shortstop for the St. Louis Cardinals, but so far they’ve been unwilling to overlook my lack of talent.

Traditionally, communication has focused on print and television. What kind of nontraditional mediums are people using to get out their messages and how effective are some of these newer mechanisms?

You’re right. More and more campaigns and businesses are starting to recognize that people form opinions based on information from many more sources than just print and television. There are a ton of options available now for reaching target audiences with the right message from the most effective messenger.

Besides doing press for Lerach personally, you are handling PR for the former Enron Corp. shareholders who are involved in a Supreme Court case. The Wall Street Journal even included a sketch of you on its front-page story about that case. What is its current status?

Some of the scofflaws have already settled and paid over $7 billion, while other defendants are fighting all the way to the US Supreme Court. It’s actually stunning–these financial institutions that ruined people’s lives by orchestrating the biggest corporate fraud in history are essentially claiming that they should be immune from liability because they were ‘merely’ the masterminds of the crime. Check out EnronFraud.com for the latest.

Joseph Grundfest, a former SEC commissioner, recently said that supporters of the plaintiffs in the court case have “been running this more like a political campaign than a Supreme Court brief.” Is that a compliment? How do you respond to that claim?

You need to take everything the once-esteemed Mr. Grundfest says with several grains of salt, because, as the article points out, he’s now a hired gun for the defendants. The corporations that committed fraud are paying him to try and muzzle the voices of the tens of thousands of Enron victims who were robbed of their careers, their savings and their retirement security. Because the facts of the case are so compelling and we’re confident that most fair-minded Americans don’t want to give giant corporations a free pass to commit fraud, we simply want people to hear from the parties involved–from the financial institutions that knowingly created the Enron fraud schemes, to the victims whose lives were destroyed in the resulting meltdown.

Do you have any long-term plans once the case is over?

Starting shortstop for the St. Louis Cardinals. I’m willing to bat eighth.
Thanks to a series of audio recordings you helped uncover, and then provided to the Los Angeles Times, the world heard Gov. Schwarzenegger’s musings about “hot Latina blood,” among other spicy topics. How do you feel the situation was handled, both by your campaign and by Schwarzenegger?

Well it certainly was a low point for the governor, but that’s spilt milk under the bridge.

So when you are not working on campaigns or challenging corporate scofflaws in the Supreme Court, what do you like to do for fun?

We have a 3-year-old daughter, so she’s pretty much the center of our universe. To get a sense of our glamorous life, we’re going to see a band called the Sippy Cups in concert this weekend, and one time a few years ago my wife and I went to a movie, that one with Paul Giamatti drinking wine in Napa. So I’m clearly riding the cutting edge of current pop culture.


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