Renzi rakes in $3-million in government stones!
6:37 AM EST on November 23, 2021
We'd like to send a big TLO attaboy to Saxum PR CEO Renzi Stone!
It seems like it was just yesterday that the former OU hoopster was heart, hustling, and hardwooding his way up the ranks of the OKC PR scene, nominating himself for every 40 Under 40 award in town as part of a long, ambitious play to be the next Angus McQueen of OKC, minus the gun fetish.
Well, it's safe to say his mission has been accomplished.
Late last week, Catherine "Oops! I Left The Oven On" Sweeney reported for State Impact Oklahoma that Saxum PR has secured a lucrative $3-million state contact with the Oklahoma Department of Health.
According to the contract, they're supposed to do things like help with the state's pandemic non-response and deflect, distract and gloss over all the mistakes and screw-ups Kevin Stitt has made as Governor:
The Oklahoma State Department of Health granted a local public relations and marketing firm a $3 million contract to help get the word out about the COVID-19 pandemic response. However, that contract also included brand management for the state’s embattled public health lab, help crafting and selling its agenda in the Legislature and more.
Seriously, that's a pretty good score by Renzi! He nailed that cushy contract like Timmy Heskett draining a wide-open three! In the olden times, that money would have surely fallen into the hands of local grifters like Ackerman, Jordan or even Brenda Jones. It's nice to see the next generation of Oklahoma PR flacks are doing well!
That being said, isn't it a bit hypocritical for Kevin Stitt to hire a PR firm to lobby for a state organization he's helped micromanage into the ground??? The answer is "Yes."
The contract instructs Saxum to aid in several legislative services, such as building a communications strategy around the department’s legislative agenda in 2022 and helping the department manage and build relationships with lawmakers during the months before the legislative session.
In 2019, Stitt was a vocal critic of agency-hired lobbyists. He issued an executive order temporarily banning the practice.
“I have determined that it is not a proper use of state funds for any state agency, board or commission to expend taxpayers’ money on the hiring of outside lobbyists to lobby the state legislators on behalf of any state agency, board or commission,” the order reads in part.
In all fairness to Stitt, you can't blame him for changing his mind on this. He made that statement back in 2019, way before he screwed things up so bad that he needed the state to hire a PR firm to repair all the bridges his administration has burned in state government.
Here's Saxum's response to the State Impact Report:
“The Saxum team has worked side-by-side with the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) since early in the pandemic to help manage the high volume of media requests and communication needs to effectively provide information to Oklahomans about COVID-19 precautions, recommendations and the COVID-19 vaccines. This includes dozens of local and national media requests daily and weekly across a spectrum of COVID-related issues touching multiple program areas within OSDH. Saxum will continue to provide execution support and strategic counsel to OSDH as requested and needed over the coming months should COVID-19 cases once again surge in the wake of variants.”
Although some people in the government and local PR scene are wondering how and why Saxum scored the $3-million deal, it makes sense to me.
First of all, Renzi is very involved in a somewhat secretive group called the Young Presidents Organization. It's basically a millionaires club for "young" Oklahoma business folks who want to be the next generation of rich people to rig government and society to their advantage.
According to the Ogle Mole Network, Kevin Stitt has appointed several members of this organization – including folks like David Ostrowe, Kevin Corbett and Jay Doyle – to his cabinet and to lead state agencies, so we shouldn't be surprised he went to the same source when he needed a PR firm to help cover up his mistakes... or "lead" a state rebrand. Imagine That!™
Also, Saxum's (
now apparently former) Vice President of Public Affairs, Jennifer Monies, is a very close friend to former Health Department Deputy Commissioner Travis Kirkpatrick. She's also married to Oklahoma Watch reporter Paul Monies, which gave the agency an inside track to spin and influence their own narratives, like when they tried to connect leadership changes within the health department solely to the new X option on Oklahoma birth certificates.
Plus, let's be honest – Saxum does good work in PR, and Renzi is a good dude. They deserve the contract just as much as any of the other government grifters out there. Once again, job well done.
Anyway, I guess we'll continue to monitor this. If you know of any other PR firms or Ad Agencies in town getting cushy government gigs, please let us know. Advertising agencies and PR firms rarely, if ever, send ad money or support our way, so I'm pretty sure we're the only for-profit news outlet in this state who can afford to cover it.
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