Ed Gillespie

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Former chairman of the Republican National Committee.

In 1996, Gillespie was Director of Communications and Congressional Affairs at the RNC under then Chairman Haley Barbour. Prior to that, he served for over a decade as a top aide to former House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-TX). He was a principal drafter of 1994’s “Contract with America,”

Gillespie has earned the nicknames, Enron Ed and The Embedded Lobbyist for his work leading up to his June 2003 appointment to Chair the Republican National Committee at the request of then-president George W Bush.

Details of Gillespie's lobbying are available in Public Citizen’s Congress Watch 1 Ed Gillespie: The Embedded Lobbyist. Some highlights:

  • Since its founding by Gillespie and former Clinton White House counsel Jack Quinn in 2000, the firm has collected $27.4 million in lobbying fees through 2002.
  • Enron paid Quinn Gillespie $700,000 in 2001 alone to lobby on the “California energy crisis” and thwart efforts to re-regulate the Western electricity market through price controls. Before its collapse, the company also funneled money to a Gillespie-run group to buy national television ads promoting the president’s industry-friendly energy plan.
  • PricewaterhouseCoopers paid Quinn Gillespie $1.35 million from 2000 to 2002 to lobby against increased oversight of the accounting industry. PricewaterhouseCoopers – which paid a $5 million fine to the Securities and Exchange Commission in 2002 for repeated accounting irregularities, including improperly auditing millions in fees paid to its own consultants – tried to water down accounting reforms in the wake of an unprecedented wave of corporate fraud.
  • DaimlerChrysler paid more than $1 million to Quinn Gillespie, which lobbied heavily against any increase in fuel-efficiency standards for gas-guzzling light trucks and SUVs. Gillespie declared, “The Democrats’ approach to energy policy is an attack on our quality of life.”
  • The U.S. Chamber of Commerce paid Quinn Gillespie $860,000 to lobby for the so-called Class Action Fairness Act, which would make it easier for companies to prevail in class action lawsuits accusing them of defrauding customers. All told, the firm has collected at least $1.12 million to lobby for this anti-consumer bill.
  • After helping set up the Commerce Department as part of the Bush transition team, Gillespie returned to his practice and began immediately lobbying on behalf of clients with business before the department. Gillespie helped secure tariffs against foreign competition for the Stand Up for Steel coalition (which paid the firm $760,000) and USEC Inc. ($957,000), the country’s largest supplier of enriched uranium to nuclear power plants.
  • Tyson Foods paid Quinn Gillespie $440,000 in 2002, in part to downplay federal charges against Tyson for conspiring to smuggle illegal immigrants into the United States to work at its poultry processing plants for lower wages than it paid legal workers. The firm also lobbied on “wage and hour” issues for Tyson, a result of a Labor Department lawsuit against Tyson seeking $300 million in back pay owed to workers.
  • Viacom, the parent company of the CBS and UPN networks, retained Quinn Gillespie for two years – and $720,000 – to push for relaxed rules on the number and reach of television stations a single company could own. In June, the Federal Communications Commission voted to raise the allowable percentage of the nation’s viewers within the reach of a given company’s stations and increased the number of stations a network could own in one city.
  • Quinn Gillespie’s single biggest client, the British Columbia Lumber Trade Council, spent $1.78 million on lobbying in a failed effort to remove U.S. tariffs on Canadian softwood lumber.
  • SBC Communications paid Quinn Gillespie $1.24 million to lobby for exemptions from rules requiring the company to share its lines with rival Internet providers. In total, the firm took in nearly $3 million from the telecom industry from 2000 to 2002.
  • The firm also was paid $1.24 million by DirecTV during the company’s failed merger with EchoStar communications. Now Rupert Murdoch is making a bid for the satellite television provider.
  • Network Advertising Initiative, a coalition of Internet companies, paid Quinn Gillespie $920,000 to help persuade the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to allow the high-tech industry to self-regulate on privacy matters.
  • Microsoft paid Quinn Gillespie $820,000 to lobby during negotiations over its antitrust settlement as well as to oppose the use, especially within the government, of “open source” systems such as Linux.

In American politics, few non-governmental positions offer as much potential for corruption as national party chairman. Ed Gillespie’s record of advocacy for the interests of Corporate America – including some of the country’s most infamous corporate wrongdoers – raises serious questions about President Bush’s decision to appoint Gillespie to lead the Republican Party.

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