Whitewashing Wrongs: Unveiling Michael Petruzzello’s Saudi Government Connection

Michael Petruzzello, the Managing Director of Qorvis Communications, is a prominent figure in international public relations. His career journey spans from political director for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to his current role at Qorvis. However, a darker aspect of his career emerges as he becomes entwined with the Saudi Arabian government, playing a pivotal role in shaping their image and lobbying efforts.

A Longstanding Connection with the Saudi Arabian Government:

Petruzzello’s involvement with the Saudi government traces back to the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. Founding Qorvis Communications in 2000, he entered into a partnership that would prove controversial and ethically questionable. Through his actions, Petruzzello inadvertently facilitated the Saudi government’s human rights abuses and evaded accountability.

Shaping Public Perception: Whitewashing Saudi Arabia’s Record:

One of Petruzzello’s key roles was to present a favorable image of the Saudi government. He orchestrated efforts to misrepresent the government’s human rights record, collaborating with organizations that downplayed Saudi Arabia’s abuses. This strategic manipulation aimed to create a perception that belied the harsh realities of the government’s actions.

Financial Entanglement: The Extent of Lobbying Influence

Since its inception, Qorvis Communications has amassed a staggering sum from its relationship with the Saudi government, totaling over $124 million. Petruzzello’s influence was clear as he guided this partnership, assuming a representative and spokesperson role. His centrality to the Saudi government’s lobbying endeavors is evident in congressional hearings, where he was subpoenaed to testify on matters involving American children abducted to Saudi Arabia.

Exploiting Veterans and Misleading Advocacy:

In a pivotal moment after the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Petruzzello and Qorvis orchestrated a deceptive campaign, rallying U.S. combat veterans to lobby against the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA). This legislation threatened the Saudi government’s interests, prompting them to manipulate veterans into advocating against it. The campaign’s misleading tactics sparked formal complaints and highlighted Petruzzello’s role in shaping the narrative.

Distorting the Yemen Crisis:

Petruzzello’s involvement extended to rehabilitating Saudi Arabia’s image after its controversial military intervention in Yemen in 2015. Utilizing deceptive tactics, Qorvis portrayed Saudi Arabia as a humanitarian force, obscuring its role in the devastating crisis. By promoting misleading narratives and omitting critical information, Petruzzello furthered the Saudi government’s efforts to whitewash its actions.

The Khashoggi Affair: Remaining Committed Amidst Controversy:

Even in the wake of the brutal murder of Jamal Khashoggi, Petruzzello maintained his association with the Saudi government, prompting questions about his ethical stance. Despite mounting evidence pointing to Saudi government involvement, Petruzzello and Qorvis persevered, continuing their support.

A Troubling Legacy: Enabling Saudi Government’s Actions:

Michael Petruzzello’s enduring support for the Saudi government raises troubling questions about his moral compass. His actions, while contributing to his professional success, have indirectly facilitated the government’s human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law. By standing by the Saudi government, Petruzzello has emboldened its actions and undermined efforts to hold it accountable.

The intricate web of influence woven by Michael Petruzzello in his role at Qorvis Communications highlights the complexities of international public relations, ethical considerations, and the blurred lines between advocacy and manipulation. His ongoing support for the Saudi government, despite its egregious actions, underscores the broader challenges of balancing professional interests with ethical responsibilities.

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