Skip to:

News & Updates

DC Lobbyist Ed Gillespie Cozy With Special Interests & Insiders, But Do Virginia Conservatives Trust Him?

DC Lobbyist Ed Gillespie Cozy With Special Interests & Insiders, But Do Virginia Conservatives Trust Him?

Washington Insider Gillespie Would Face Hostile Nominating Convention

Gillespie Has Supported Individual Health Care Mandate, Comprehensive Immigration Reform, Deficit Spending, Wall Street Bailout

DC insiders have found a warm body to challenge Senator Mark Warner, but DC lobbyist Ed Gillespie may not get such a warm reaction from rank-and-file Republicans who will select the party’s nominee at a nominating convention in June. Gillespie’s record includes pushing for an individual health care mandate, supporting comprehensive immigration reform, leading the charge to defend the Bush administration’s reckless and irresponsible deficit spending, and supporting the Wall Street bailout.

Rank and file Republicans don’t like the Affordable Care Act, but Ed Gillespie was a leading promoter of a health care mandate before anyone had even heard of ACA. He even wrote about how important it was in his own memoir, and the Coalition to Advance Healthcare Reform paid him more than $300,000 dollars to lobby for an insurance mandate on all Americans.

If that’s not enough to anger the base, Ed Gillespie’s support for comprehensive immigration reform goes so deep that it even includes citizenship for undocumented immigrants. When it comes to debt and deficits, Gillespie promoted George W. Bush’s irresponsible spending spree that accumulated $2 trillion in accumulated deficits and $5 trillion in new debt. And Ed Gillespie was in charge of marketing the highly unpopular Wall Street bailout.

Adding insult to injury, Gillespie co-founded American Crossroads with Karl Rove, the Super-Pac currently targeting the GOP-grassroots and promising only to support non Tea Party candidates.

“The GOP establishment and DC insiders are very comfortable with lobbyist Ed Gillespie, but rank-and-file Virginia Republicans won't feel the same way when they learn about his record,” said Justin Barasky, a spokesman at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. “From lobbying for health insurance mandates on all Americans to his support for comprehensive immigration reform, leading the charge to promote the reckless and irresponsible Bush deficit spending and marketing the Wall Street bailout, Ed Gillispie is out of step with Tea Party Republicans."

Businessman Shak Hill and former Navy Officer Howie Lind, both popular with the Tea Party, have already declared their candidacies for the Republican nomination as well.

BACKGROUND:

GILLESPIE PROMOTED A HEALTH CARE MANDATE

BEFORE ANYONE HEARD OF OBAMACARE

2006: Gillespie’s 2006 memoir recommended a health reform proposal which included an individual mandate: “A more rational approach is to ensure that every emancipated adult capable of providing for his or her health care do so. One way to accomplish this is to use the tax code to gain compliance.” [Gillespie memoir, Winning Right: Campaign Politics and Conservative Policies, (2006, Threshold Editions), pages 245-6]

2007: Gillespie was paid more than $300,000 as a lobbyist for The Coalition To Advance Healthcare Reform, launched in 2007 with the explicit goal of enacting an individual health insurance mandate: The individual mandate was a core Coalition priority, according to a May 6, 2007 Washington Times op/ed written by the Coalition’s leader and Safeway CEO Steve Burd: “Every American should be required to carry health insurance.” The Coalition’s mailing address was the same as Gillespie’s D.C. office, and the announcement of the Coalition’s launch highlighted Gillespie’s role as a participant as well as a strategist. [Washington Times, 5/6/07; PRNewswire, 5/7/07

2012: Gillespie supported a federal mandate “when insurers were paying him to be for it:” “Mitt Romney's new advisor, Ed Gillespie, was a lobbyist for a federal individual mandate two years before President Obama embraced the idea. In 2007, the Coalition to Advance Healthcare Reform hired Quinn Gillespie to lobby for its agenda, which included an employer mandate and an individual mandate... Gillespie wasn't just one of CAHR's lobbyists: he was their Republican headliner, touted in their press releases...  Gillespie, who did not immediately return my call or email seeking comment, seems stuck admitting he was for a federal-level mandate when insurers were paying him to be for it, and is against it now that Obama is defending it.”  [Washington Examiner, 4/6/2012]

2010: Gillespie angered conservatives like Sarah Palin by publicly advising the GOP to stop pursuing repeal of the Affordable Care Act:  “Sarah Palin urged Republicans to throw caution to the wind in the aftermath of Tuesday's midterm elections, calling GOP strategist Ed Gillespie's suggestion that party leaders take a "serious" and careful approach to their likely new mandate ‘out of touch.’ On Tuesday morning, Gillespie advised Republicans not to pursue exhaustive initiatives such as a complete repeal of the health care overhaul, but rather hone their ambitions on the law's most contentious aspects. Palin, however, seemed to think that this was an awful idea. ‘No, no, no! See how out of touch even a comment, an idea, like that is?’” [Huffington Post, 11/3/2010]

GILLESPIE SUPPORTS COMPREHENSIVE IMMIGRATION REFORM THAT INCLUDES CITIZENSHIP FOR UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANTS

2012: Gillespie: Comprehensive immigration package, including eventual citizenship for illegal immigrants, is an  “opportunity that should be taken.”  “With Obama making plain his plans to push immigration soon, leading establishment Republicans -- fresh off Mitt Romney getting his clocked cleaned by 44 percentage points among Hispanics last month -- insist they are now very much open to a comprehensive package, including eventual citizenship for illegal immigrants. But while top Republicans think they need to make a big move on the issue and actually want a bipartisan deal with Obama, the rank and file remain skeptical. And it is this tension that is defining the behind-the-scenes machinations as both parties plan for 2013. ‘There's a growing sense that this is an opportunity that should be taken,’ said Ed Gillespie, a former Republican National Committee chairman and top adviser to Romney's presidential campaign. ‘There's no instinct like a survival instinct.’” [Politico, 12/10/12]

2013: Gillespie said the GOP is ready for a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants: “Immigration reform that includes a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants may not be the bogeyman many Republicans think it is, GOP strategist Ed Gillespie and pollster John McLaughlin said Wednesday, based on focus groups with conservatives in Iowa and South Carolina… ‘The instinctive resistance to immigration reform amongst Republican primary voters seems like it may be giving way to an instinctive resignedness to it,’ Gillespie, a former Republican National Committee chairman and counselor to President George W. Bush, told reporters in a briefing. For one thing, many Republicans outside the Beltway don't know what a pathway to citizenship is, much less whether they support or oppose it, according to McLaughlin and Gillespie. [Huffington Post, 3/28/13]

GILLESPIE HELPED SELL BUSH’S SPENDING SPREE:

$2 TRILLION IN DEFICIT SPENDING, $5 TRILLION IN NEW DEBT

In September 2003, RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie told The Manchester, N.H. Union Leader that the Republican Party ‘stands for giving the American people whatever the latest polls say they want’: “Over the course of an hour-long meeting with Ed Gillespie, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, we took great care to give him every opportunity to explain himself fully so that nothing could be misunderstood. The result was a surprisingly frank admission that the Republican Party defines ‘fiscal responsibility’ as increasing the federal budget at ‘a slower rate of growth’ than the Democrats (his words). We asked him three times to explain why President Bush and the Republican Congress have increased discretionary non-defense spending at such an alarming rate, and why the party has embraced the expansion of the federal government’s roles in education, agriculture and Great Society-era entitlement programs. ‘Those questions have been decided,’ was his response. The public wants an expanded federal role in those areas, and the Republican Party at the highest levels has decided to give the public what it wants.” [Free Republic, 9/03/03]

The Bush Administration turned budget surpluses into deficits: President Bush inherited a $127 billion budget surplus when he took office in January 2001. By the time he left office in January 2009, the Bush Administration had increased federal spending by nearly $1 trillion, and accumulated annual budget deficits topping $2.1 trillion:  [Source: Table 1.1, page 24, Office of Management & Budget]

The Bush Administration increased the U.S. debt by 86% over eight years: The day George W. Bush took office in 2001, total outstanding U.S. public debt was $5.7 trillion. By Bush’s second inaugural in 2005, total debt had increased by more than 33% to $7.6 trillion. On President Bush’s final day in office in 2009, total outstanding public debt stood at $10.6 trillion – 86% larger than when he entered the White House. [TreasuryDirect.com, accessed 12/29/13]

Calling members of the Bush Administration ‘deficit-fighters is completely at odds with all of their policies,’ said William Gale of The Brookings Institution, who worked for the White House Council Of Economic Advisers for President Bush’s father. [Bloomberg, 12/21/2005]: The increases in deficits and debt during the Bush Administration were largely the result of the unfunded 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts, the off-budget cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, new spending on homeland security, and the unfunded Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit. [2012 U.S. Treasury Department fact sheet, Changes in Federal Deficits Since 2001]

GILLESPIE HELPED MARKET & SELL

BUSH’s $700 BILLION WALL STREET BAILOUT

2008: White House Senior Advisor Ed Gillespie told The Wall Street Journal that the $700 billion Bush Wall Street Bailout would “prevent the giant oaks of America's financial forest from bursting aflame:” “This is not a pleasant vote. We understand that. But the risk of not having this vote pass is much greater, and would be much more unpleasant and much more costly to taxpayers. This is a time when responsible members of Congress from both parties need to step forward and do what is in the best interest of our economy and our country and their constituents.”  [Gillespie, FOX News, 4/29/08]

2009: A White House insider confirms that Gillespie was in charge of marketing the $700 billion Bush Wall Street Bailout: “As Treasury started to use the bailout funds to invest directly in financial institutions, Ed [Gillespie] wanted to come up with a name for the plan that made it sound better to the public, particularly conservatives who thought this was nothing more than warmed-over socialism,” writes former Bush speechwriter Matt Latimer. “As we were working on this, Ed called a few of the writers on speakerphone with the idea he’d come up with: the Imperative Investment Intervention.  ‘Oh, that sounds good,’ one of us remarked, as the rest of us tried not to laugh. We decided that if a catchphrase must be deployed, surely we could come up with something better than a tongue twister with the acronym III. We started out with dark humor: the ‘I Can’t Believe It’s Not Capitalism’ Plan; the MARX Plan.” [Mother Jones, 9/15/09]

‘ESTABLISHMENT ED’ versus THE CONSERVATIVE GRASSROOTS

2013: Gillespie-Karl Rove American Crossroads GPS has launched a new project to battle “undisciplined” GOP candidates from the “fringe right.” “Republican donors are setting up a multimillion-dollar war chest to help protect electable party candidates from primary challenges from ‘undisciplined’ candidates from the fringe right. The Conservative Victory Project, set up by the Karl Rove-backed Super PAC American Crossroads, seeks to become a bulwark against the kind of extreme views that have seen the party lose Senate seats in recent contests. The people behind the idea said it is a push against indiscipline rather than any particular ideology. But it comes as the Republican Party seeks to define itself after November's presidential defeat amid an apparent battle for the heart of the party. It is also being framed by some as a push against the influence of the Tea Party, the likes of which have seen the GOP dragged to the right in recent years… American Crossroads was set up in 2010 by former Republican National Committee chairman Ed Gillespie and ex-White House strategist Karl Rove as a fundraising entity to help raise cash for party candidates.” [The Guardian, 2/3/13]

2013: Gillespie-Rove’s American Crossroads GPS mission is now focused on “candidate vetting”. “One complication is that, in many ways, the Republican Party is indebted to its tea party wing, whose passion led to GOP success in the 2010 midterm elections. But tea-party-fueled primary challenges have backfired in recent election cycles by knocking out Republican candidates who might have won a general election in favor of fringe figures who had no chance. This time, the establishment has vowed not to let that happen. Crossroads GPS, an independent group co-founded by Gillespie and GOP strategist Karl Rove, has quietly focused more of its resources on what one official described as ‘thorough candidate vetting.’” [Washington Post, 10/18/13]