To the Editor:
The headline on pages 20 and 21 of Wednesday, Sept. 7, WWD (“Hillman Ties to U.S. Makers Questioned”) was certainly not descriptive of the article below. Most of this article was devoted to an investigation of [U.S. Chief Textile Negotiator] Jennifer Hillman’s travel practices and reimbursements for the cost of same. From my personal exposure to Jennifer Hillman, she is one of the most dedicated, hardworking government officials that I have encountered in my career in textiles. Furthermore, I have found her to be exceptionally knowledgeable and even-handed in approaching the problems that beset both the textile and apparel industries.
As to her travel expenses, from first-hand experience I can tell you that she addressed the Textile Distributors Association annual meeting on Wednesday, June 15, at Tamiment Resort and Conference Center in Tamiment, Pa. She provided her own transportation — the TDA did not reimburse her one penny. We did supply accommodations for one night, since she arrived late Tuesday evening and departed after the meeting on Wednesday afternoon.
It seems a shame that a dedicated, hardworking, government official (and they are hard to come by) should be subjected to such scrutiny because of their willingness to make themselves available to speak to the members of the industry they represent.
Executive Director, Textile Distributors Association
New York, N.Y.
To the Editor:
WWD’s article of Sept. 7 about Jennifer Hillman’s ticket to our annual meeting in Florida not only was a tempest in a teapot, but also an exercise in shoddy journalism.
People in this office talked at least six times to WWD about the ticket, yet were never quoted in the story.
It is our practice to pay expenses for speakers who provide us informative and worthwhile comments. We have been doing so for as long as I have been at American Apparel Manufacturers Association. At the Florida [AAMA] annual meeting (at Boca Raton, Feb. 11-12), we paid airfare and accommodations for four speakers in addition to Ms. Hillman. We also paid hotel accommodations for six others. Ms. Hillman was there to address subjects of vital business interest to our members. She braved an ice storm to get there and returned on the same day she spoke. We did for her no less nor more than we did for the other speakers on our program, and for anyone to imply anything else is absurd.
We do not have to fly government officials to Florida in order to talk to them. We have ample opportunity to make our case in Washington, as do those who may disagree with us. While we have adequate exposure to Ms. Hillman and other government officials in Washington, our members do not. It was more than worthwhile for the several hundred people in the audience to hear her remarks directly.
G. Stewart Boswell
President, American Apparel Manufacturers Association