Friday, April 6, 2012

Romney/Gillespie - The ALEC Tie that Binds?

When I saw this article on Politico announcing that Ed Gillespie had joined Mitt Romney, and that Gillespie was associated with Paul Weyrich – I thought I better take another look.

Romney officials and Gillespie have been in discussions for weeks and the strategist was already offering advice to Rhoades as an informal adviser.

While very much a credentialed member of the Republican establishment, Gillespie also has ties to the conservative movement. He worked as a top aide to former House Majority Leader Dick Armey and came up in politics strategizing with movement figures like Paul Weyrich.

Gillespie and Enron
In a detailed and very long article about the Enron scandal, you will find the cfollowing information.
Enron Corp., which ran a formidable lobbying machine in Washington and state capitals, gained favorable treatment from Congress, federal and state governments and various regulatory agencies on no fewer than 49 occasions from the late 1980s to the company's bankruptcy in December 2001, a Center for Public Integrity analysis shows.

(BTW from me- Enron was a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council as noted in 1992, 1993 and 1997 ALEC Private Sector Member lists.)

The article goes on to say:
The company replicated this strategy in the states. By joining forces with PG&E Energy Services, the retail unit of PG&E Corp., and Shell Energy Services Co. LLP, part of Shell Oil Co., Enron created the New York Energy Providers Association (NESPA) to lobby New York’s Public Service Commission.

(BTW from me- PG&E and Shell both being identified as current and former ALEC members, respectively.)

A key part of Enron’s strategy was having influential lobbyists in Washington and elsewhere. Besides maintaining a stable of high-profile lobbyists with a wealth of experience in government on its payroll, the company hired top lobby firms, with a history of getting things done.

Pulling strings on behalf of Enron were such well-connected firms as Akin, Gump, Straus, Hauer & Feld; Bond Donatelli; Bracewell and Patterson; Davis Wright Tremaine; Price Waterhouse Coopers; Sideview Partners; Skadden Arps Meagher and Flom; Verner Liipfert Bernhard McPherson and Hand; Vinson & Elkins; and Quinn Gillespie.

On several issues, Enron lobbied along with, or as part of, coalitions representing industries and trade groups. The Center counted nearly 30 such umbrella organizations that the company allied with.

On deregulation, the company coordinated its lobbying efforts with several groups at the state and federal level, including Americans for Affordable Electricity (AAE), a coalition of industry and consumer groups advocating restructuring, and the American Legislative Exchange Council, a group of conservative lawmakers and policy advocates championing small government and free market ideas.

Enron had great access to the administration from its beginning. When the president was putting together his team, Enron lobbyist Ed Gillespie, of Quinn Gillespie & Associates, briefly served in the Commerce Department transition team. Gillespie, worked as acting director of public affairs for the Commerce Department for 15 days, helping Secretary Donald Evans recruit his staff, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Individual        Position at Enron        Position in government
Ed Gillespie      Lobbyist                       Former communications director at
the RNC and a top communications
advisor to [George W] Bush during
the campaign

Other notable ALEC-ers mentioned in the article include:
Attorney General John Ashcroft (ALEC Meeting Keynote Speaker and frequently mentioned in ALEC articles since 1995)
Kenneth Lay (Keynote Speaker 1997 ALEC Annual Meeting)
Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole
House Majority Whip Tom DeLay
Tom Ridge (2003 Annual Meeting Keynote)
Vice President Cheney  (2003 Annual Meeting Keynote and winner of the Thomas Jefferson Freedom Award)
Secretary Donald Evans (Keynote Speaker 2001 ALEC Annual Meeting)

More About Gillespie

In addition to the ties to Enron and to the various ALEC-ers associated with Enron the following connections to ALEC are noted in an article by Beau Hodai.

Gillespie served as an aide to House Majority Leader Armey (1995-2003) [frequent keynote speaker at ALEC events] following the "Republican Revolution" of 1994. As Communications and Policy Director of the House Republican Conference of 1994, Gillespie, along with such notables as Armey, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA, also very active in ALEC in recent years) and Grover Norquist (head of Americans for Tax Reform, also active in ALEC), is credited as being one of the authors of the 1994 GOP "Contract with America."

Gillespie served as press secretary to the failed presidential bid (1999) of current Ohio Governor John Kasich (R).  Kasich, during his time in the Ohio Senate (1978-1982) is credited by ALEC as being one of the more active public sector members during the organization's "formative years" (ALEC was founded in 1973).

To be fair, Gillespie's lobbying activities on behalf of Enron/Koch energy interests were fairly limited (most likely curtailed by the demise of Enron) compared to lobbying performed on behalf of other clients such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Diageo (a prominent ALEC member corporation) and AT&T (longtime chair of the ALEC Private Enterprise Board).

So you have to ask yourself – knowing that the Koch brothers paid for Romney’s campaign in the very beginning with huge fundraisers on the East Coast – how close is Romney to being an ALEC-er – maybe not a card carrying member – but shares the KOCH-ALEC philosophies???

How close is too close to ALEC????
Something to keep in mind.

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