PR firm quits California high-speed rail project amid tensions

As state and national pressure mounts against the project, locals charged that its PR firm, D.C.-based Ogilvy Public Relations, wasn't doing enough to earn its $9 million contract.

A former rail authority chairman — Quentin Kopp, one of Ogilvy's most vocal critics — said the firm overcharged for simple tasks and over-billed for short meetings by several hours.

Ogilvy has a different story.

"We were unable to develop a solid working relationship with your agency, and that impeded the kind of top-notch work we are accustomed to providing our clients," the firm's West Coast managing director, Michael Law, said in a letter to rail officials Wednesday.

According to the San Jose Mercury News, the firm heard that it might be fired at an upcoming rail authority meeting, and promptly resigned.

Construction on the 500-mile rail project will begin in about a year, and if more financing is secured, plans say the trains will start to run in 2020.