MS&L, Burson lift CA public affairs units with new hires

SACRAMENTO: Two major PR agencies have made moves to strengthen their public affairs practices in California's state capital, tapping professionals with ties to California governors past and present.

SACRAMENTO: Two major PR agencies have made moves to strengthen their public affairs practices in California's state capital, tapping professionals with ties to California governors past and present.

MS&L has formed an unusual partnership with two public affairs professionals to establish a Sacramento presence. Burson-Marsteller has tapped a former communications adviser to Gov. Gray Davis to lead its northern California public affairs practice and direct its Sacramento office.

Burson also has appointed a former spokesperson for Dick Cheney (when he was secretary of defense) as an MD of the firm's Washington, DC-based public affairs practice.

MS&L has hooked up with Martin Wilson and Beth Miller, cofounders of a new firm, Wilson-Miller Communications. Wilson and Miller will continue to run their firm, which MS&L did not acquire, as an independent agency. The firm now becomes MS&L's affiliate office in Sacramento. For MS&L, Wilson will be director of West Coast public affairs and Miller will be SVP.

Wilson was previously MD for Public Strategies in Sacramento and held a similar position with Burson. He also served as senior counselor to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's election campaign.

Miller was most recently public affairs EVP for Barnes Mosher Whitehurst Lauter & Partners. She also has worked for several elected officials, including former Gov. Pete Wilson.

Burson has tapped Jason Kinney, who was Gov. Davis' senior communications adviser and chief speechwriter, and also ran his own public affairs shop for a short time.

Kinney replaces William Kahrl, who left earlier this year to lead the communications division of Kahl/Pownall, a government relations and public affairs firm.

Kinney left Davis' team in March 2003, shortly after the governor's second inauguration and before the recall fervor.

He started his own public affairs and candidate consultancy firm, The Kinney Company. Davis was one of its clients.

In Washington, DC, Burson has lured Christine Kelly Cimko away from Edelman, where she was SVP. She will lead its new Global Defense Group.

In addition to being Cheney's spokeswoman in the previous Bush administration, Cimko was communications director for the Senate Armed Services Committee in the 1990s.

  • Additional reporting by Douglas Quenqua.

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