Mark Penn yesterday called his meeting with Colombia, a client of the firm he heads, an "error," and the Colombian government, in a statement from its embassy, calls the notion that its hired gun won't meet with it "unacceptable," and fires the firm.
Here's the statement:
The Colombian Government announces its decision to terminate the contract with Burson-Marsteller. This firm conducts public relations and communications consulting services on behalf of Colombia in the United States for the approval of the Free Trade Agreement and the continuation of Plan Colombia.
Mr. Mark Penn, President and CEO of Burson Marsteller, reponded to claims by Union representatives who questioned his relationship with the Colombian Government by declaring that it was an "error in judgment" to meet with his client the Colombian Ambassador on March 31. The Colombian government considers this a lack of respect to Colombians, and finds this response unacceptable.
The firm was retained by the Colombian Embassy in Washington in March of 2007 based on its track record in the field of Public Relations.
The Colombian Government will continue its efforts to show to different sectors in the United States, the dramatic improvements in the country's economy, social and security indicators, and will continue its efforts to obtain a favorable vote on the pending Free Trade Agreement with the United States, for greater wellbeing and prosperity for all.