ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Mark Penn, the pollster and senior strategist for Hillary Rodham Clinton's presidential bid, left the campaign Sunday after it was disclosed he met with representatives of the Colombian government to help promote a free trade agreement Clinton opposes.
"After the events of the last few days, Mark Penn has asked to give up his role as chief strategist of the Clinton Campaign," campaign manager Maggie Williams said in a statement released Sunday. "Mark, and Penn, Schoen and Berland Associates, Inc. will continue to provide polling and advice to the campaign."
Communications director Howard Wolfson and pollster Geoff Garin will craft strategy for the campaign going forward, Williams said.
The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that Penn, who serves as chief executive of public relations giant Burson-Marsteller, met with Colombian officials March 31 to help craft strategy to move the Colombian Free Trade agreement through Congress. Penn later issued a statement apologizing for the meeting, calling it an "error in judgment."
"Senator Clinton was disappointed that meetings with Colombians had occurred. She is a strong opponent of the trade deal," said a Clinton campaign officials speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not given authority to speak publicly. "Over the course of the weekend he recognized he needed to step aside as chief strategist."