Thursday, August 25, 2016

PR Power on the Campaign Trail

Posted By on August 25, 2016, 1:34 PM

click to enlarge Along with the PR needs of his office, AG Sean Reyes also has his political campaign's communication issues to keep an eye on. - SEAN BARR
  • Sean Barr
  • Along with the PR needs of his office, AG Sean Reyes also has his political campaign's communication issues to keep an eye on.
 I spent some time last week working on a news story about the promotion of Attorney General Sean Reyes' spokesperson, Missy Larsen, to chief of staff.

What intrigued me about it, was here we have an administration that has been, shall we say, overly cautious about controlling its public image, while elevating a non-attorney who has extensive communications, community relations and business experience to one of the most senior positions in the office on the other.

Larsen and her replacement at the AG, Dan Burton, aren't Reyes only potential sources of PR advice, counsel and wisdom.

He is facing a re-election battle against attorney Jon Harper for the AG office.

While some had expected Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill to go up against Reyes at the end of his first term for the title of "top cop," Utah's Democrat party had to spend some time seeking someone willing to go up against Reyes' political machine  run by his political consultant Alan Crooks, with PR support from an independent communications expert, Lee Rech.

Reyes has proved to be an unpredictable figure when it comes to PR. There was his involvement in a child slavery sex ring bust in Colombia orchestrated by Utah nonprofit, Operation Underground Railroad, led by former federal CIA and Homeland Security agent Tim Ballard.

OUR has proved itself an adept marketer and Ballard is beloved by many—The Deseret News named Mormon Ballard one of their six heroes in 2014.

Reyes, who went “undercover” as a bodyguard during the raid, testified on human trafficking to the D.C. House Foreign Affairs sub-committee in May 2015.

More recently, in early August 2016, Reyes garnered some local publicity on Fox 13 after the part-Filipino AG publicly identified himself as a proxy for the Trump campaign to an audience of Asian-American journalists in Las Vegas, at least when it came to reported comments by the presidential candidate about the Philippines harboring terrorists. Reyes clarified that law-abiding Filipinos were welcomed by Trump.

Crooks says the Trump campaign approached Reyes about making the clarification after they learned he was speaking to the group, and paid for his airfare.

Reyes has aligned himself with Trump before, issuing a press statement in May 2016 applauding Trump’s “list of highly respected jurists” the candidate proposed for the U.S. Supreme Court. “These are some of the finest legal minds in our nation today, including Utah’s own Justice Thomas Lee,” Reyes notes.

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