Phillip Stutts & Company, Inc.
"A Round with Rini" Featuring: Leo Linbeck III

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A prominent public policy advocate from Houston, Leo Linbeck III, the President of Competitive Governance Action is fighting to devolve power from the federal government.

MR: In your policy pursuits, you’re the President of Competitive Governance Action (CGA). What is CGA?

L3: So, we have both a think tank and a political advocacy group. They’re founded on a pretty basic view that the problems that we face in the political realm are the result of one core issue – the failure to adapt governance in the face of increasing scale. What tends to happen is as organizations grow in a governance structure, more and more power tends to get centralized. The response to that needs to be to continue to adapt the governance to push more decision making authority out to the edges, closer to the people. It’s the principal of subsidiary. You make the decision as close to the people impacted by it as possible.

MR: What does CGA do?

L3: CGA was set up to promote a whole host of reform ideas that were based in this insight. The big issue in politics is not what is decided but who decides.

MR: Let’s talk about the Health Care Compact – a big push to scale back Washington-run healthcare.  The compact has been adopted by a number of states already and has been introduced in the U.S. Congress. There’s also an effort, Repeal 16, to repeal the 16th Amendment. There are advocacy groups for just about everything these days. Why did you decide to focus on these efforts specifically?

L3: Those are the two areas we’ve focused on at the federal level. We have an additional effort we’ve done at the state level, which I’ll talk about in a second. We started with health care because it’s the blob that’s going to eat the entire system.  The Affordable Care Act is just the latest step in the centralization of health care. This is not a new trend. And it’s a huge chunk of our economy – 1/6th of the economy and the centralization of this magnitude is simply not going to work. Not even the Europeans are crazy enough to run an E.U.-wide health care system.

MR: That’s saying something!

L3: There’s a reason for that. It’s a decision that’s best made local. Look at the United States, 96 percent of health care is intrastate commerce. Health care is provided by a local provider in a state to someone who lives in that state. We attack health care not by saying let’s figure out the best policy to push from Washington. Instead, let’s go to the more fundamental issue: we need to fix who decides. You can think of this as kind of like an operating system upgrade. When there’s a new operating system for Windows or Mac, you don’t go and force everyone to upgrade. You let people opt-in. The power users then move first. They find bugs and those bugs get fixed. Bigger organizations study the change and transfer over time. That’s the way to affect change that is both politically sustainable and also works better from a policy stand point.

MR: And your work on tax reform?

L3: Taxes are a little bit different because there needs to be some federal tax system. There the decision is do we centralize the decision making over the tax code or do we distribute it? You don’t want to end up with both an income tax and a consumption tax. At Repeal 16 we simply cut out the income tax as a source. Now the federal government can come up with a consumption-based tax system – whether it’s a flax tax, or a fair tax, or a VAT – or whatever it is.

L3: The third thing we’ve done is in education. The same problems we see in health care, we tend to see in education but at the state level. In Texas we developed a bill (House Bill 300) that gives districts the opportunity to opt into an alternative regulatory regime where there’s more local control and more parental choice.

MR: You obviously run your companies for a living but have a passion for public policy. When was the first time you felt compelled to jump into that arena? Was it a policy fight? A political race?

L3: My first entry into all of this was when I got involved with the charter school movement here in Houston. I’ve been very involved in helping our local charter schools grow. That naturally led to looking at policy issues.  At the same time, I was looking at health care – particularly the impact Obamacare was going to have on our business and the people who work for us. And I was really frustrated. We have a very generous health care benefits program for our employees and what became clear was we were getting punished – particularly in 2018 with the “Cadillac tax” – we were going to be pummeled because we were being generous. We just need to get Washington out of the business of making these decisions. That was the original design of the constitution.

MR: Tell us a little bit about who Leo Linbeck is:

L3: Let’s see… I’ve been married for 26 years; have five kids – ages 20, 16, 11, 9 and 7. Two of the kids are homemade and three are adopted. Our three adopted kids are from three different countries: Columbia, Guatemala and Ethiopia. We have this little United Nations. And it’s just like the U.N. Lots of complaining about trivial matters while important issues are routinely ignored.

MR: Does anybody have veto power?

L3: Everybody has veto power and the guy who gets blamed is the guy who pays all of the bills!

L3: My day job is that I run Aquinas Companies. We have three main business lines – construction management, where we do a lot of institutional and cultural buildings. We have a real estate group that does real estate development acquisition. And we have a biotechnology group. We run a bio-tech studio where we start up companies in the bio-tech space here in Houston.  I’m also on the faculty at Stanford Graduate School of Business and the faculty at Rice University.

MR: Tell us about your dad, Leo Linbeck Jr. He was involved in many pursuits. He was chairman of the Federal Reserve in Dallas. Like you, he was involved in a lot of tax reform efforts. What did your dad teach you during his extraordinary life?

L3: My dad was an amazing guy. And I was so blessed to work with him in our business for 25 years. The thing that was the biggest take away about my dad is that he was engaged and wanted to help shape the commons. This is what self-governance is about, a relentless focus on your personal interests or business, but also a sense that we have a responsibility to shape the commons. And if we don’t engage, then it’s left to other people. Our system only works if people in every walk of life get engaged at the level at which their talent and capabilities allow. He was always engaged. And he did it in a way that he built really powerful friendships built on a sense of mutual respect. He had a huge impact on me and I think a huge impact on our state and on our country.

MR: I can’t let you out of here with out talking about Notre Dame football. Two years ago, you made it to the National Championship. Last year, a let down. What do you see for the Golden Domers from South Bend this year? 

L3: There’s a lot of hope as there is every year in South Bend. Of course we’ll have our Quarterback back next year. Actually my son will be a junior next year at Notre Dame so I’m sure we’ll make it up to at least once game.  Every year looks like it’s going to be un-defeated at the beginning of the year.  But we’ll see.

MR: Leo Linbeck – aka L3 – thank you so much for taking the time.

L3: Thank you.

 

"A Round with Rini" Featuring: Adam Brandon, Exec. VP FreedomWorks

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Phillip Stutts & Company, Inc. is launching a new Q&A series hosted by PSCI Digital Media Manager, Martin Rini. “A Round with Rini” will feature figures from a wide swath of organizations doing work inside and outside the Beltway.

First up, FreedomWorks Executive Vice President Adam Brandon.

MR: For anyone who may not know, tell us about FreedomWorks.

AB: FreedomWorks is a small government, fiscal conservative, grassroots organization. Our mission is to be a service center to the grassroots – to be able to work with them on what they think is important. That’s what we do everyday. We’re always trying to be as nimble and scrappy as possible.

MR: So building upon that, I’ve noticed, especially since the dawn of the tea party movement, a lot of advocacy groups are popping up all over the place. Everybody is competing for the same space. That said, FreedomWorks has been around a lot longer than these guys. What do you attribute your long record of success to – dating back decades now?

AB: If you went back, I think it was in the early 90s, Matt Kibbe our boss, wrote an article and basically he said that the real thing we’re trying to do here is create a groundswell very similar to what happened in the original American Revolution. He was always calling and looking to do something similar – to create this amazing network of people on the outside who could put pressure on politicians on the inside. That has always been strategically what we wanted to do. And then Rick Santelli went on the rant. A lot of the people we had been working with saw that and said, “Hey we want to do one of these tea party things.” We would never claim to have started the tea party or to be the invisible hand behind it. But we do have activists who have been at the forefront.

MR: You mentioned the Founding Fathers. Who’s your favorite Founding Father?

AB: I am a Revolutionary War re-enactor. It’s one of my weekend hobbies. Unfortunately, I haven’t had enough time to do it lately. But I’ve had a few moments where you’re in uniform at night. It’s after the battle; and you’ve cleaned your gun. You sit around as the fire is going and I’ve read Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense.” And when you’re in that type of environment – you’re trying to bend the pages so you can catch the light from the fire – for some reason Thomas Paine has always spoken to me as one of those original heroes. Of course, Washington because the more you learn about him, what he did and how he kept the country together. The reason he’s the greatest president is because he walked away from it. He had all the temptation in the world to be king of the United States. Thomas Paine is probably actively my favorite Founding Father. But I always have to give George Washington his props.

MR: Reversing the script on that, who’s your least favorite Founding Father?

AB: My least favorite would probably be one of the early heroes, Benedict Arnold. We would’ve never had tactical success without him. We would not have been independent without his efforts. I think his reason for flipping sides was more out of jealousy than anything else. If our Founding Fathers [as a whole] would’ve let jealousy get in the way, we would’ve never been independent.

MR: In a later question, we’ll get back to someone similar to Benedict Arnold but from Akron…

AB: I think I know who you’re talking about right now!

MR:  A lot of the work that’s done here is rooted in the Founding Fathers and the founding documents of this country. But FreedomWorks is able to speak to a very vast audience and take those principles that were espoused in the “Common Sense” pamphlet or Washington’s Farewell Address and through new media and the grassroots, you’re able to hammer home those values and get a generation of people like myself involved. How do you do that?

AB: This is a long-term battle that we’re in. And I think people get too caught up in the 2014 election cycle or the 2016 election cycle. We’re already looking at 2020, 2024. We didn’t get into these problems overnight and we’re not going to get out of these problems overnight. Because the internet has just torn walls down, you’ve got to be authentic. And the one thing about FreedomWorks, worts and all, if you tear all the walls down, we are this rag-tag band of people who are committed to fighting for liberty and we believe in these founding principles. I think we connect with the individual activist; we connect with these different people who are running for office. We’re very proud of our work with Rand Paul, with Mike Lee, Ted Cruz. We think that those are as close as we can get today to instilling those founding values. It’s the authenticity that I think is our connection.

MR: You’ve talked about the long-term vision, moving forward. As you look 10, 20, 30 years down the road, what would like to see accomplished? Would it be a specific policy goal like a balanced budget amendment?

AB: I love that you’re asking that question because it has changed for me. A few years ago if you would’ve asked that – I’m going on my ninth year here – and I never though I’d be here more than one or two years. I used to answer that question with some policy things. You look at the problems with Social Security or whatnot. Now what I think of is the long-term legacy, talking as someone in my 30s, I’d like to see when I’m in my 70s is what we successfully did is connect a community. If you have a strong community that is willing to support the guys who are going to put it all on the line, then we’re going to be able to do something important. One thing I often hear is, “Who’s going be our next Ronald Reagan?” And I realized, “Wow. We’re not going to get another Ronald Reagan and we can’t wait for another Ronald Reagan.” Because that’s asking someone to save us from this mess. But what we can do individually is get active, and create groundwork so you have Mike Lees, Rand Pauls, Ted Cruzs. Because all three of those gentlemen, they’re going to go one day as well. We need a bench. We need to have a community that’s constantly growing. The left has done this for years where they have thousands of people who are running for local office. I’d like to see people who are friends of FreedomWorks running for School Board, running for Governor, running for Senate, running for everything.

MR: Switch a little bit here and we’ll talk a little Cleveland sports.

AB: My favorite subject!

MR: Favorite Brown of all time?

AB: Wow, that’s a really hard question. Personally for me, I think it was Bernie Kosar. This really means a lot to me because I say he’s one of us. Growing up in Boardman. Coming back. He did kind of game the system so he could get back to Cleveland. And he represents a lot of what I think Cleveland is about. It’s a blue collar town that has constantly been the underdog that’s just never going to stop. And I think that’s important in all the fights in life. You just do not give up under any circumstance whatsoever.

MR: I think that’s a really good analogy because Bernie wasn’t built like the prototypical quarterback. He had that funny side-armed throwing motion. But he was gritty. And he should’ve won a Super Bowl.

AB: He should’ve won a couple! I can even think of a few other players. As a little kid, I got this great picture of me with Hanford Dixon. I used to go to the Top Dawg’s Browns camp. His attitude and how he created the Dawg Pound, his swagger. To me, I believe strongly that Cleveland is an American story. It once was great and prosperous and it has every opportunity to be prosperous once again. People like Bernie Kosar and Hanford Dixon saw that and were like, “Damn it. We’re going to play our hearts out for this community.” It’s about representing my ancestors – my ancestors were Czech immigrants who moved to Cleveland because John D. Rockefeller, he put his oil in beer barrels. That is why my people are from Cleveland. Those are my roots and they run deep. And it’s important to me because those are our roots. And it was once the promised land and it’ll be the promised land again.

MR: Absolutely. I don’t think that people realize Euclid Avenue was “Millionaire’s Row” with Rockefeller and company living there … Favorite Browns memory of all time?

AB: My dad I went down to the game and we saw Eric Metcalf run two touchdowns back against Pittsburgh. I remember that game because when we came out of that game, we were 5-2. At that time, I was still in high school but I’ve never really felt that since then. My other memory is I went to the playoff game where the Browns beat the Patriots. One other thing I will say about that – who did I go to that game with? Of all the racial tension you hear about in America today, I ended up going to that game with a friend of mine from high school who was black and from the inner city named Sam Gaston. Where I was growing up and he was growing up, we never should’ve met but we were Browns fans, and we ended up going to the game together. And it shows you that sports can connect communities. That’s what America should be.

MR: Two more questions for you. The NFL draft – less than a week away – who do you want the Browns to pick? Who do you think they’ll pick?

AB: I want them to get Sammy Watkins if he falls there. But my heart wants them to get Manziel because I want another crazy quarterback like Brian Sipe throwing touchdowns.

MR: Final question. I’d be remised if I didn’t ask someone from Akron his unvarnished opinion on the guy who we used to call “The Chosen One,” now we don’t say his name.

AB: OK [LAUGHTER] Lebron James. I went to Walsh Jesuit. He went to St. Vincent-St. Mary. I went back for a game and saw him play my Walsh boys and he destroyed us and I realized he was a manchild running around out there when he was a sophomore in high school. I actually went back home for “The Decision.” I was very visibly upset. But I would welcome him back with open arms if it meant a championship. I just want to win, baby.

MR: Just win, baby. We’ll leave it with that. Adam Brandon, Executive Vice President of FreedomWorks. Thanks so much for taking the time.

AB: Thank you.

 

 

Phillip Stutts & Company, Inc. Adds Digital Media Manager

Washington, DC — Phillip Stutts & Company, Inc. announced Wednesday that Martin Rini has joined the firm to serve as Digital Media Manager.

Rini, who was the Digital Content Coordinator for the Romney Presidential campaign, will join the firm’s media team to mold traditional communications efforts into digital campaigns.

Phillip Stutts, President and Founder of PSCI, said, “We’re looking forward to what the future holds for Martin and our company. In the ever-changing and always developing digital world, he’ll be a real asset to our team.”

“I am very excited for this new opportunity at PSCI. There are a lot of great things going on here and I’m eager to be a part of it,” said Rini.

View Rini’s full bio HERE.

Phillip Stutts debates unemployment benefits and Obamacare with Peter Fenn on Fox 5 (DC). 

Did Ted Cruz show us how to launch a presidential campaign?

by Brian Jodice

During a recent FreedomWorks event in Texas, Sen. Ted Cruz (R) let fly a teleprompter-free speech that quickly grabbed national attention. Cruz, fresh off leading the effort to block the Democrats’ gun control legislation, turned the conversation back to his GOP colleagues and called a handful of them (who remained nameless) “squishes.”

Who was there to capture the moment? Not the mainstream media, not a gaggle of press cohorts, not Cruz’s campaign media team – but one single digital media specialist in the back of the room: Me.

Immediately after Cruz left the meeting, I clipped it, branded it with the trademark FreedomWorks “starcheck,” and had the video online in minutes.

As the video spread, stories began leaking that Cruz was thinking about a potential run for the White House in 2016. As conservatives googled him to learn more, the video from that lone new media digital cameraman was the most recent news hit in their search engine. This kicked off what’s been a busy few weeks for the senator, who has further established his conservative voice across traditional and new media. It should come as no surprise that the Iowa GOP has invited Cruz to their annual picnic next month – and with events like that, a legitimate path for 2016 is beginning to take shape.

What makes this event significant is not about me, but about how the Senator and his savvy advisors used my video as a way to complement his informal exploration of the presidency. The video reinforced angst among base Republican voters who are fed up with Washington and want to continue the fight against those “squishes.” It also solidified his conservative bonafides. All things a candidate will need to do in what will likely be a very large presidential primary field.

The result of all this publicity? When the video hit social media, we saw tweets turn into retweets, Facebook posts shared, and the YouTube clip we posted racked up 45,000 views on the FreedomWorks channel. Other people then cut down the video, reposted, and shared virally to the tune of about 85,000 views.

This is further proof that digital video is not an option in today’s campaign world, but a necessity. In the 24/7 news cycle, with content at the tip of our fingers, it’s about controlling the message and telling a story, quickly and often. With traditional campaign videos, it can take days to beautify optics before a message hits its target audience. The current media environment doesn’t allow for this, and any missed opportunities could be the death knell for your message.

Brian Jodice is a former TV reporter turned digital media specialist and Vice President, Media Strategies at Phillip Stutts & Company, Inc., a media and advocacy public affairs firm.

20 April 2013 - PSCI’s Commander Kirk Lippold talks about the Boston terror attack with Neil Cavuto on Fox News.

Congratulations for our friend and colleague Kevin P. Chavous, who today was inducted into the Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO) hall of fame.  Kevin is a tireless advocate for school choice and education reform.  We salute him and organizations like BAEO, the American Federation for Children and National School Choice Week for standing up for families across our nation and demanding choice in education.

*VIDEO COURTESY OF FOX 5 DC, WTTG*

www.phillipstutts.com

We’re excited to announce that we’ll be teaming up with National School Choice Week for their special Whistle Stop Tour from January 25 - February 2.  We’re jumping on a train from Los Angeles to New York City (9 days, 14 cities/events, 3,300 miles) to celebrate and promote School Choice Week.  Check out this link and train route picture to see where we’ll be and please follow @BrianJodice for video updates from the tracks.  You can also follow @SchoolChoiceWk, @AndrewCamp, @SpielzOnWheels and the special train account @SCWSpecial.

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Phillip Stutts is interview by CBS This Morning about crisis PR management and the ongoing gun control debate.