PERRY/Still intrigued by Scruggs

As the case closes, more and more details leak out on how the Scruggs team operated. At the time the FBI raided the Scruggs Law Firm in Oxford, the Scruggs Katrina Group was fighting State Farm Insurance over denied claims resulting from Hurricane Katrina. Scruggs was counting on two “whistle blowers” with inside information.

In a trial later this year, two former employees of a company contracted by State Farm for damage assessment – sisters Cori and Kerri Rigsby – will allege State Farm acted improperly. State Farm’s discovery has revealed to the public the communications between the Scruggs group and the Rendon Group, a Washington DC public relations firm. The e-mails provide a peak behind the curtain of the strategy and tactics employed by one of the nation’s top legal crusaders and a covert public relations firm.

Rolling Stone profiled the PR firm’s founder, John Rendon, in 2005 and described him as “the man who sold the war” in Iraq: “The Pentagon secretly awarded him a $16 million contract to target Iraq and other adversaries with propaganda. He is a leader in the strategic field known as ‘perception management,’ manipulating information – and, by extension, the news media.” The article quoted a speech Rendon gave at the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1996 describing himself as, “a person who uses communication to meet public-policy or corporate-policy objectives. I am an information warrior and a perception manager.”

Rendon is a serious man. When top professionals – millionaires, corporations, countries – need serious work, they call his firm. When Scruggs went head to head with State Farm Insurance in the wake of Mississippi’s multi-billion dollar natural disaster, the Rendon Group provided the public relations and media strategies needed to affect public perception and apply political pressure.

Speaking of these e-mails, Lange writes on his blog, “I never thought there would be enough material in the Scruggs saga for a follow up book. Now, I am forced to rethink that a bit.” His review of the 400 pages of e-mails describes the Scruggs/Rendon efforts at creating credibility for the Rigsby sisters, contending with critical blogs, and managing the media including using a close relationship with Attorney General Hood.

Brian Perry
Madison County Journal