You’ve got to respect the timing of Eliot Spitzer’s latest move. The New York attorney general and gubernatorial candidate lashed out at H&R Block yesterday for allegedly selling inappropriate savings plans to hundreds of thousands of income tax filers.
Spitzer’s accusations come exactly one month before Federal income tax returns are due and will undoubtedly do a number on Block’s business. As for Spitzer, the move makes him look like a champion of the working class who, he says, were the primary target of the company’s "scheme." It’s a smart positioning for a candidate who, up until now, has earned his fame by bringing down the hoi polloi of Corporate America. With yesterday’s announcement, Spitzer can begin a mass appeal that can be backed up by definitive actions on his part.
As for Block, Spitzer’s bombshell is the latest blow in a series of legal debacles. To their credit, though, Block is aggressively speaking out and smartly positioning their CEO, Mark A. Ernst as lead spokesperson. A crisis of this magnitude clearly calls for the CEO to be front and center, demonstrating his involvement and communicating his messages.
Regardless of the outcome, Spitzer is the winner in this communications battle. He delivered his announcement at the right time and aimed it at exactly the right constituency he needs to reach. This guy is no blockhead.