Started in 1990, The Advance Group markets itself as a firm that’s “managed national strategic campaigns, including some of the most closely watched political races, and produced internationally recognized events for over two decades.” In addition, the company boasts handling corporate, nonprofit, and labor issues.
This is a firm which universally does not do good work – and we recommend staying very far away from. It’s a sub-par Public Relations company with questionable ethics.
A quick survey of the firm’s blog finds The Advance Group pushes political discourse into the forefront of the relationship with the public, and much of their publicity hinges on partisan talking points found on the national stage.
For example, their latest vlog post of CEO Scott Levenson weighing in on what the U.S. should do about the Russian-Syrian clashes earlier in October. Continuing down the blog, there are posts about Selma, Political Events, and the Republican Party. Even further back a retrospectively ironic post by CEO Levenson on November 5, 2013, in a “push to the polls” and a call for everyone to come out for the election.
The motivations and niche for The Advance Group clearly represent they help market politicians, help politicians find funding, and benefit when people come out to vote in the election.
Yet, he’s; been caught at least once working both sides of the political spectrum.
In the 2013 New York Municipal Elections, Levenson got fined $26,000 for playing both sides of the political fence, by advising both “the political arm of the United Federation of Teachers and the anti-horse carriage group, New Yorkers for Clean, Livable, and Safe Streets, influencing contested citywide and council races.”
The fine seems relatively minor, but the message stated clearly for political campaigning and profiting from both sides of elections. Levenson’s inability to “maintain a firewall” between the firm’s representation of political clients and independent political committees appears very much in danger of conflicts of interest.
Political PR is tricky, especially when it concerns advising political groups on key issues for elections. Scott Levenson wears many hats as CEO of Advance Group – yet he dabbles in many issues and apparently from what we understand does very few of them well.
As of December of 2014, Levenson is still part of a probe by The Campaign Finance Board “investigating whether the animal-rights group leading the crusade against horse-drawn carriages helped candidates in last year’s city election in violation of campaign finance rules.”