Charles Francis has worked in the PR industry for over 20 years, having played roles in some of the industry's most underhanded and deceptive campaigns. The long-time Bush family friend, is a parnter at DCI Group, a Washington DC-base, Republican PR and lobbying firm that specializes in creating astroturf groups.
In early 1992, Francis became managing director of the financial services group at Burson-Marsteller, one of the largest PR firms worldwide. The New York Times reported that previous to joining B-M, he was head of corporate and financial public affairs at Hill & Knowlton's Washington office. According to an O'Dwyer's PR Services story from 1991, Francis was one of 119 H&K executives registered to work on the 1990 Citizens for a Free Kuwait account, which ultimately supported the U.S. entering into the Persian Gulf war.
Prior to his H&K stint, Francis worked for Gray & Company, a Reagan-era right-wing PR firm that specialized in hiring friends and family of politicians as a means of buying access to people in power. During his time at Gray & Co., Francis co-authored The Almanac of the Unelected, a pricey--$250--volume offering insider profiles of more than 600 Capitol Hill aides. He had also worked as a speechwriter for David Rockerfeller.
In 1994, Francis left B-M to become a founding member of the State Affairs Company, a PR and "grassroots" lobbying firm based in Reston, Virginia. State Affairs oversaw the creation of Contributions Watch, a tobacco industry industry front group.
At DCI, Francis "provides public affairs counsel to corporations, trade associations and other organizations. His practice specializes in the areas of energy, international representation, defense and technology," DCI's website states. "A native of Texas, Mr. Francis served on the Bush/Cheney Presidential Transition Team's Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Task Force and as a Member of the Presidential Advisory Commission on HIV/AIDS. He is also the founder and chairman of the Republican Unity Coalition, whose Advisory Board members include President Gerald R. Ford, Senator Alan K. Simpson (ret.-WY) and David Rockefeller."
Francis lobbied on behalf of the Burmese junta (aka the Union of Myanmar State Peace & Development Council) in 2002 improve the regime's image in Washington, steering clear of its rampant human rights abuses. The Washington Post's Al Kamen wrote, "Francis, a prominent Republican, even set up two meetings with White House National Security Council Southeast Asia director Karen B. Brooks -- an unusual feat given that Burma is under U.S. sanctions and its top officials are barred from coming here -- to tout Burma's cooperation on anti-drug, HIV/AIDs and anti-terrorism efforts and in finding the remains of U.S. soldiers from World War II.
"Francis, along with Barry M. Broman, a retired U.S. government employee who was stationed in Rangoon, lobbied lawmakers and staff on the Hill, including Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) and Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-Ariz.), as well as Defense Department officials and think-tankers such as former U.N. ambassador Jeane J. Kirkpatrick.
"The campaign was on the verge of success -- the State Department was about to certify the regime -- but the administration backed off amid pressure from the Hill, human rights groups and the media," Kamen wrote.
Francis also has taken on a role organizing gay Republicans. He formed the Republican Unity Coalition to make "homosexuality a 'non-issue' for the Republican Party."
- Contributions Watch
- DCI Group
- Republican Unity Coalition
- State Affairs Company
- Swift Boat Veterans for Truth Republican Connection
- "H&K details PR effort to rally support for Kuwait," O'Dwyer's PR Services Report, January, 1991.
- Michael Quint, "The Media Business; A P.R. Firm's Big Push Into Finance," New York Times, June 8, 1992.
- John Stauber & Sheldon Rampton, "Wolves in Sheep's Clothing: 'Special-interest Watchdogs' Exposed as Tobacco Industry Front Group," PR Watch, Vol. 3, #3, Third Quarter 1996.
- John Stauber & Sheldon Rampton, "[https://www.prwatch.org/prwissues/1996Q3/sac.html Sex, Lies, & Audio Tape," PR Watch, Vol. 3, #3, Third Quarter 1996.
- Al Kamen, "Escalation of the Appellation," Washington Post, February 28, 2003.