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Firm pushing Santorum book promoted bogus, lurid sex tales

John Byrne

The public relations firm hired to promote Sen. Rick Santorum's (R-PA) new family values book represented an array of clients with more prurient backgrounds, some of whom produced spurious and graphic sex and drug charges in their work, RAW STORY has learned.

Sen. Santorum’s book, "It Takes a Family," is subtitled "Conservatism and the Public Good."

Craig Shirley, whose firm Shirley & Bannister has successfully hawked the book, represented Paula Jones, the woman who leveled sex charges against Clinton and posed for Penthouse, and Gary Aldrich, whose tales of condom-draped Clinton Christmas trees created something of a stir in Washington in 1996.

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Jones' lurid tale of President Clinton propositioning her was "confirmed" by state troopers in an expose by David Brock in 1994. The troopers' tale was later found to be bogus.

Brock, who later apologized for the story, said he had been used by Clinton's enemies who were after money. After a protracted battle in which he pleaded no wrongdoing, Clinton settled with Jones for $850,000 in 1998 after a judge had thrown the case out of court. The judge said Jones could prove no damages.

Aldrich, a former FBI agent, propounded a fantastic tale of sex and drugs at the Clinton White House. In a letter appealing for support, he detailed elements of his book, including: "How recent drug use by White House staff was covered-up and considered inconsequential," "How gay and lesbian sex among staff was openly practiced in the White House," and "even how the Clinton White House Christmas tree was decorated with condoms, pornographic ornaments and sex toys."

The book, derided in Washington, became an instant best-seller.

Salon.com's Joe Conason also notes that Shirley was responsible for the notoriously racist "Willie Horton" ad that torpedoed the campaign of Democrat Michael Dukakis in his 1988 campaign against George H. W. Bush. The Horton ad appeared under the aegis of a nebulous organization called 'Americans for Bush;' the ad's creators included Brown and Shirley.

Questioned about Jones' spread in Penthouse, Santorum spokesman Jeff Traynam directed questions to the book’s publisher, ISI.

ISI marketing director Doug Schneider said he saw no problem in hiring Shirley.

"From our perspective, we wanted to find a firm that would be professional and essentially get the job done promoting book," he told RAW STORY. "We did not look at every single person he has promoted the past, and as working for the publisher, we did not think that was particularly relevant."

Shirley has promoted the books of Ann Coulter and fiery "Democrat" and erstwhile Georgian governor Zell Miller.

"You can always overanalyze," Schneider added. "Shirley & Bannister has a right to publicize and promote and work with who they want to. We thought that Shirley and Bannister would do a fantastic job and we have been very pleased with the work that he's done."

A spokesman for Shirley & Bannister did not immediately return a RAW STORY call seeking comment.

Schneider said Santorum's book has seen robust sales, with over 46,000 copies sold to date.

Muriel Kane and Larisa Alexandrovna contributed research for this article.

Originally published on Friday August 26, 2005.

 


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