Monday, December 8, 2008

Retail Memo: Mr. Mackey (and the Whole Foods Market Troops) Goes to Washington

Whole Foods Market, Inc. v. U.S. Federal Trade Commission.

Whole Foods Market, Inc. CEO John Mackey (and team) is headed to Washington.

Mackey, along with Whole Foods' Co-president Walter Robb and others, will be holding a press conference tomorrow (Thursday, December 9) morning to announce the company's lawsuit and legal challenge against the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which we reported on and wrote about in this piece, "Retail Memo: Breaking News - Whole Foods Market, Inc. Files Lawsuit Against the FTC; Argues the Regulator Violated the Company's Due Process Rights ," earlier today.

The press conference tomorrow morning is at 10am eastern time (7am pacific time) and will be held in room 210 of the Cannon Office Building, First Street and Independence Avenue SE, on Capital Hill in Washington, D.C.

In addition to the press conference -- where Mackey and Robb will be joined by legal counsel and politically-connected Washington lawyer (Democrat) Lanny Davis, as well as antitrust lawyer Steve Cannon, who also is part of the retailer's legal team, and Marc Mastropaolo, a Whole Foods Market store team leader from the Tenley Circle Washington, D.C. location -- Whole Foods' leadership team, along with store employees the retailer is bringing in from throughout the U.S., will meet with members of Congress to describe why the company believes the FTC is violating its due process rights by holding a hearing on the Wild Oats merger on February 16 of next years.

The theme of the discussion/lobbying effort with members of Congress is: "Fair Play for Whole Foods Market by FTC."

The "Mr. Mackey (and team) goes to Washington" (our usage not Whole Foods') public relations and lobbying event was orchestrated by Lanny Davis, the former legal counsel to President Bill Clinton and current advisor to Senator and soon to be Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, as well as by Whole Foods' new Washington public affairs firm The Grover Park Group.

The Glover Park Group is one of Washington, D.C.'s top public affairs/lobbying firms. It partners and staffers are heavy hitters of both Democrat and Republican political affiliations but the firm is particularly heavy-on Democrats and influential among the Democratic members of Congress, which now hold a strong majority in both the House and Senate, with an incoming Democrat President as well.

Read this piece, " Retail Memo: Whole Foods Market Retains Top Washington D.C. lawyers and Politically-Connected Lobbyists to Plead its Case Against the FTC," we wrote and published yesterday about The Grover Park Group and Whole Foods' Washington legal counsel.

The Glover Park Group was named the top Washington, D.C. public affairs/lobbying firm last year by its peers in the nation's capital. The firm's partners in many ways can be described as the Clinton-Gore Administration's policy, political and communications team in exile. They include: CEO Chip Smith, who among other things was the chief of staff for Al Gore's 2000 Presidential campaign; Susan Brophy, who served in a number of positions in the Bill Clinton Administration; Carter Eskew, among other things the former chief strategist for former Vice President Al Gore's 2000 Presidential campaign; former Clinton White House-staffer and advisor to Al Gore, Michael Feldman; former Clinton White House chief spokesman for the President, Joe Lockhart; Howard Wolfsen, who most recently was the director of communications for Senator Hillary Clinton's campaign for the Presidency; and numerous other Democrat Party insiders.

Heading up the Whole Foods campaign are Joel Johnson, a partner at the firm, and Kim James, who is a vice president at The Glover Park Group.

Johnson has a long Washington resume. He is a former senior advisor to President Clinton for policy and communications and worked in the U.S. Senate for many years, including as a top aid to former Democratic Senate leader Tom Daschle, who President-elect Obama is naming as his Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare.

Kim James also has extensive experience and connections on Capital Hill in Washington.

The Glover Park Group also has a number of influential Republicans on staff. On of its most recent hires is Kevin Madden, who served as chief spokesman for Republican candidate for President Mitt Romney. Madden has become a familiar face on cable news as a Republican analyst since the 2008 campaign.

Click hear for a complete list of Glover park's partners and players, and their bios.

Whole Foods is clearly stepping-up its battle against the FTC's attempts to overturn the now basically completed friendly acquisition of Wild Oats' Market, Inc., something Natural~Specialty Foods Memo suggested the natural foods retailer start doing some months ago.

We will be covering the press conference and related activities on Capital Hill tomorrow. Stay tuned for our repotts and analysis.

Reader Resources

Recent, related posts from Natural~Specialty Foods Memo:

>December 8, 2008: Retail Memo: Breaking News - Whole Foods Market, Inc. Files Lawsuit Against the FTC; Argues the Regulator Violated the Company's Due Process Rights

>December 7, 2008: Retail Memo: New Seasons Market CEO Brian Rohter and Whole Foods Market Co-President Walter Robb Discuss and Debate the Subpoena Issue Online

>December 7, 2008: Retail Memo: New Seasons Market CEO Brian Rohter Speaks Out Again Today on the Whole Foods Market, Inc. Subpoena of His Company's Data

>December 7, 2008: Retail Memo: Whole Foods Market Retains Top Washington D.C. lawyers and Politically-Connected Lobbyists to Plead its Case Against the FTC

>December 6, 2008: Retail Memo: Fast-Growing and Scrappy Sunflower Farmers Market Ventures Deep in the Heart of (Whole Foods Country) Texas

>December 6, 2008: Retail Memo: Fast-Growing NF Chain Sunflower Farmers Market Responds to Whole Foods Market, Inc. Subpoena For Sales, Financial and Related Information

>December 3, 2008: Retail Memo: More on the Whole Foods Market-New Seasons Market Subpoena Issue; FTC Holding Firm For February, 2009 Hearing

>December 2, 2008: Retail Memo: Whole Foods Market, Inc. Closes $425 Sale of Stock to Private Equity Firm; Adds Members of the Firm to its Board of Directors

>December 2, 2008: Retail Memo: Portland, Oregon-Based New Seasons Market CEO Brian Rohter Responds to Whole Foods Market's Paige Brady

>December 2, 2008: Retail Memo: Whole Foods' Paige Brady Responds to Yesterday's New Seasons Market Piece; Lots of E-Mails; Issue Heats Up On the New Seasons Market Blog

>December 1, 2008: Retail Memo: Whole Foods Wants A Court-Mandated Financial Records Dump from Portland-based New Seasons Market; it Says For its Battle Against the FTC

Additionally, we've been writing about the FTC-Whole Foods Market, Inc. issue since last year. You can read a selection of those stories here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


Wild week in this niche industry. This trip to DC by Whole Foods is fascinating.
How will John Mackey be received by pols that have already been besieged by bailout requests by much more vital industries?
As Mile Gilliland remarked," I don't see how the overcome the glitz factor?"
How will Whole Paycheck impress Washington? I think not much, but wait to see the results.

Anonymous Seattle