PR firm at center of public policy controversy in CA

SACRAMENTO, CA: PR firm Runyon Saltzman & Einhorn (RS&E) has found itself in the middle of a public-policy battle that has become political.

SACRAMENTO, CA: PR firm Runyon Saltzman & Einhorn (RS&E) has found itself in the middle of a public-policy battle that has become political.

Both the San Francisco Chronicle and Sacramento Bee reported last week that California assemblywoman Jenny Oropeza is pushing a measure that would preserve some women's health programs from the state's budget cuts. California faces a $35 billion deficit.

One such program is a multimillion-dollar teen-pregnancy-prevention effort run by RS&E. Complicating matters is the fact that in January the firm hired lobbyist Esperanza Ross, daughter of Oropeza's friend and political adviser Richie Ross.

As a result, recent media coverage of Oropeza's measure has focused more on her and the agency's political ties than on the programs she is trying to save.

"We work with two or three lobbyists, and [Ross] is one of them," said agency president Estelle Saltzman. "[Oropeza's measure] is very attractive to us, as we're very supportive of women's health issues. And a project we are working on happens to be included in that bill."

Saltzman said she sees the conclusions being drawn in the media that Oropeza is trying

to save the agency's program because of her personal relationship, or that the agency is trying to curry favor by hiring a lobbyist with connections to Oropeza. But she insisted that this was not the case.

"This issue of protecting women's health programs is being diluted because of the political slant," said Saltzman. "I'm disappointed with both stories [in the Chronicle and the Bee] because they didn't dig deeper to ask why these programs were important to her."

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