Ken Sunshine (born March 12, 1948) is an American public relations consultant, co-CEO and founder of Sunshine Sachs Consultants. He began his career in New York City politics, including serving as chief of staff for Mayor David Dinkins.
Sunshine was raised on Long Island and graduated from the School of Industrial and Labor Relations of Cornell University in 1970 where he was involved in activities to promote social change and political change.
Sunshine started as a community organizer and became a district delegate for George McGovern. He then ran the public relations department of ASCAP, where he supervised music events. In the 1970s, he joined Bella Abzug's Senate, mayoral and congressional campaigns with Harold Holzer.
From 1990 to 1993, Sunshine served as the chief of staff for Mayor David Dinkins, a job that included managing future New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. In 1994, he worked on Mario Cuomo's gubernatorial campaign and is an advisor to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. In 2013, he served on mayor-elect Bill DeBlasio's transition team.
Sunshine Sachs Consultants
In 1991, Sunshine launched the public relations firm Ken Sunshine Consultants. The company was renamed the following year to reflect principal Shawn Sachs's partnership. The initial clients included Barbra Streisand, 1199: The National Health Care Workers' Union and the 1992 Democratic National Convention working with Ron Brown, then chairman of the Democratic Party.
Sunshine Sachs specializes in corporate image programs, crisis communication, reputation management and issues management, consumer and lifestyle marketing, public affairs, media relations, event promotion, and communications skills training. In 2014, Sunshine Sachs was named the number one public relations agency in New York by New York Observer.
His clients have included John Thain, Barbra Streisand, Ben Affleck, and the convicted sex offender Harvey Weinstein. His best-known work includes representing Jussie Smollett who was criminally convicted for faking a hate crime as well as Justin Timberlake after a "wardrobe malfunction" at Timberlake's Super Bowl XXXVIII performance with Janet Jackson in February 2004. As of 2009, nine-tenths of his clients were not celebrities.
Wikipedia editing for clients
In June 2015, Sunshine admitted his firm had employed paid editors to edit clients Wikipedia pages to remove negative material about them, violating the Wikipedia updated terms of service. Sunshine Sachs said its employees failed to make public their relationship with the firm when making edits, and a key employee was unaware of Wikipedia's updated policies on paid editing. All employees engaged in editing Wikipedia now make appropriate disclosures, Sunshine said. Celebrities whose Wikipedia articles were edited by Sunshine Sachs include Naomi Campbell, Mia Farrow and Sarah Brightman. It was unclear if the celebrities themselves were aware of the edits.
The New York Times said an email to clients stated that "Sunshine Sachs has a number of experienced editors on staff that have established profiles on Wikipedia," and that "the changes we make to existing pages are rarely challenged." Sunshine said that he believed that his firm's edits to Wikipedia prior to June 2014, when the policy was changed, abided by Wikipedia policy.
He is married to Nancy Hollander and they have two children. His son, Jason Hollander Sunshine, a Columbia-trained lawyer, is married to Samantha Helen London, a Barnard College graduate whose father, Barry London, served as vice chairman and president of Paramount Pictures's motion pictures group.
- Hawkins, Andrew. "PR pros tell mayor how to recover". Crains.com. Crains. Retrieved December 15, 2014.
- Weiss, Rebecca (October 24, 2007). "The Cornell Connection: Ken Sunshine '70". Cornell Sun. Retrieved July 8, 2015.
- Smith, Elizabeth (September 13, 2014). "Ken Sunshine joins The Met's board of trustees". Page Six. Retrieved December 15, 2014.
- Campbell, Colin (December 6, 2012). "Bill De Blasio For NYC Mayor: Can The Public Advocate Go From Master Strategist To Mister Mayor?". www.huffingtonpost.com. Huffington Post. Retrieved December 15, 2014.
- "Mario Cuomo Advisor Remembers the Former Governor". NY1. January 1, 2015. Archived from the original on January 6, 2015. Retrieved January 6, 2015.
- Nagourney, Andrew; Craig, Susanne (January 2, 2015). "One Last Confluence for Mario and Andrew Cuomo, Proud Rivals". New York Times. Retrieved January 6, 2015.
- Taylor, Bill (November 21, 2013). "Bill De Blasio's Two New Rabbinical Allies". Tablet.
- n/a, n/a. "The Influentials: Media". www.nymag..com. New York Magazine. Retrieved July 11, 2014.
- Kaminer, Michael (November 19, 2014). "New York's Top 50 Public Relations Agencies". New York Observer. Retrieved December 15, 2014.
- Bernstein, Jacob (September 12, 2014). "Barbra Streisand, a Voice to Be Reckoned With". www.nyt.com. New York Times. Retrieved December 15, 2014.
- WEISMAN, ALY. "Meet The 20 Most Powerful Publicists In Hollywood [Ranked]". www.businessinsider.com. Business Insider. Retrieved July 11, 2014.
- Twohey, Megan (October 15, 2017). "How Weinstein Used Lawyers and Money To Evade 2015 Case". www.nyt.com. New York Times. Retrieved October 15, 2017.
- Moore, Heidi (January 27, 2009). "Ken Sunshine, the Man Behind John Thain's Self-Defense". Wall Street Journal (WSJBlog). Retrieved July 21, 2015.
- Cieply, Michael (June 22, 2015). "Wikipedia Pages of Star Clients Altered by P.R. Firm". The New York Times. Retrieved June 23, 2015.
- Politico: "De Blasio ally to hold Clinton fundraiser" by Annie Karni June 5, 2015
- "Samantha London, Jason Sunshine". The New York Times. December 8, 2019. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved August 11, 2020.
- Harmetz, Aljean; Times, Special To the New York (November 22, 1988). "President of the Film Group At Paramount Steps Down". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved August 11, 2020.
- Eller, Claudia (September 10, 1996). "Paramount Veteran Barry London Resigns". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 11, 2020.