Former trustee's book sheds light on lobbying

contact: Jeanne Baron
| WMU News
Photo of George Franklin.

Franklin

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—A former Kellogg Co. executive and WMU trustee has published a book that gives readers an inside look at the life of a corporate lobbyist from someone who lived it.

George Franklin, who retired in 2005 as vice president of worldwide government relations for the Kellogg Co., self-published "Raisin Bran and other Cereal Wars: 30 Years of Lobbying for the Most Famous Tiger in the World."

He wrote the 154-page book partly to provide practical knowledge about an arena few people are familiar with and that has fallen through the cracks of academia.

"Schools don't teach government relations, even though every company has a government relations office. There's nothing philosophical about this. It's practical real-world stuff," he told Chuck Carlson of the Battle Creek Enquirer in a September 2014 interview. "I saw these very smart business people...involved in a world that they had never been to. And I hope this becomes a teaching tool for that."

About the book

"Raisin Bran and other Cereal Wars" is described as "the go-to source for anyone interested in learning more about the complex and stimulating confluence of business, law, lobbying and politics."

The book provides unique insights into the widely misunderstood role of corporate government relations and how it affects public policy, with plenty of interesting stories along the way.

Franklin takes readers from fundraisers to the halls of Congress, the White House and on to China, South Africa and Mexico, with a stop at ground zero just days after 9/11.

And while he recognizes the unsavory view the public has of lobbyists, Franklin does not shy away from that view.

"I run right at it," he said during the interview with the Battle Creek Enquirer. "There are only two jobs in America that are protected by the U.S. Constitution—yours [journalists] and mine. Whether you like us or don't like us, we're fundamental to the system. That's what makes the system go."

George Franklin

Franklin served as a WMU trustee from 1989 to 2001 and now is the founding president of Franklin Public Affairs LLC, a government relations and public policy firm in Kalamazoo.

Early in his career, he served as a legislative aide in the office of former Democratic Congressman Frank Thompson and for the U.S. House of Representatives' Special Subcommittee on Labor.

He went on to earn a law degree, worked as a private practice attorney in Washington, D.C. from 1971 to 1976, and also served stints as election counsel for the Jimmy Carter presidential campaign and as special counsel to the Maryland Consumer Council.

In 1976, Franklin joined a small D.C. law firm whose main client was Kellogg. The cereal company hired him in 1980, and he opened a lobbying office for the company just blocks from the Capitol. He moved to Kalamazoo seven years later, but remained Kellogg's main voice until retiring from the company.

Franklin has held numerous positions in and out of government, has testified before Congress as a food industry representative, and even had his own weekly radio segment called "Ask the Lobbyist."

He is a past member of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Human Nutrition Advisory Committee and the U.S. Department of Commerce's Industry Sector Advisory Committee on Consumer Goods for Trade Policy Matters. In addition, he is a past chairman of organizations such as the American Frozen Food Institute and both the State Affairs Committee and Washington Representatives Group of the Grocery Manufacturers of America.