Lobbying Pays Off for Top Bush Aide

The Associated Press
Wednesday, December 5, 2007; 4:48 PM

WASHINGTON -- Ed Gillespie, counselor to President Bush, reported assets of between $7.86 million and $19.4 million when he began working at the White House, illustrating the wealth available to those at the top of Washington's lobbying industry.

Gillespie, 46, a former head of the national GOP, left his post at the high-powered Washington consulting and public affairs firm, Quinn Gillespie & Associates, to become a senior adviser to Bush in late June. His White House salary is $168,000.

He earned $4.75 million from the sale of his share of the firm, which he co-founded in 2000 with former Clinton White House counsel Jack Quinn, according to his newly released financial disclosure form. It employs two dozen lobbyists and other public affairs employees and billed $8.6 million over the past year, ranking it 10th among the city's influence businesses, according to The Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan research group based in Washington that tracks money in politics.

In 2006 and the first six months of this year, Gillespie received nearly $1.3 million in salary and a bonus from the firm. In addition, he got a $150,947 advance for his book "Winning Right," which Simon & Schuster Inc. published in 2006.

In less than a decade, Gillespie went from being a modestly paid congressional aide to Rep. Dick Armey, R- Texas, to a multimillionaire.

"His favorite line was, 'Dick, I make more money by knowing you than you make by being you,'" Armey has been quoted as saying.

Gillespie remembers the line differently. His version is that a lobbyist came in to see him in Armey's office and afterward, Gillespie turned to a colleague and said, "That guy makes more money knowing Ed Gillespie than I make being Ed Gillespie."

With Bush's presidency winding down, a growing line of White House officials are leaving for the more lucrative private sector. Gillespie, instead, decided to leave his business and join the West Wing team.

His 18-page financial disclosure report was the first one he has submitted to the Office of Government Ethics as an aide to Bush. It was not ready when the White House released the last batch of financial disclosure reports in June but was obtained recently by The Associated Press.

Gillespie disclosed assets in numerous investment accounts, including one worth between $1 million and $5 million.

He listed more than 120 clients of Quinn Gillespie. The firm represents health care interests such as Bristol-Myers Squibb, the American Hospital Association and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America; telecommunications companies Verizon and AT&T; and General Electric, Delta Airlines, Burlington Northern Santa Fe, the National Hockey League, the National Association of Realtors, PricewaterhouseCoopers and State Farm Insurance.

It also lists foreign clients, from Republika Srpska _ the mini-state of Bosnia's Serbs _ to Pakistan's ministry of commerce.

"He has severed all ties and has no financial relations with any of the clients," said White House deputy press secretary Tony Fratto. "He reviews every issue that comes before him and works with ethics lawyers to make sure he never is exposed to a potential conflict of interest."

Fratto said Gillespie has had to recuse himself from working on issues from time to time, but would not provide details of those cases.

Sirius Satellite Radio Inc. and XM Satellite Radio Holdings Inc. hired Quinn Gillespie Associates in April, for instance, to lobby the federal government on their proposed merger. Quinn Gillespie also represents Qualcomm Inc., a semiconductor maker. The U.S. International Trade Commission recently decided to ban U.S. imports of new cell phones made with Qualcomm semiconductors, saying the company's chips violated a patent held by another company.

"He represented only some of the firm's clients so any questions about any potential conflict of interest is limited to only those he personally represented," Fratto said.

The report notes Gillespie's former positions on the Johns Hopkins Medicine Board of Trustees and the board of directors for Horton's Kids, a nonprofit tutoring and mentoring organization in Washington; and his work as a speaker for the Leading Authorities speakers bureau in Washington.

He was paid $339,700 for speaking engagements in 2006. They included $20,000 he received for two speeches at Michigan State University; $19,200 he earned for two talks at the Reinsurance Association of America in Kiawah Island, S.C.; $20,000 for a speech to America's Health Insurance Plans in San Diego, Calif.; and $20,000 he earned for a talk at an Edison Electric Institute function in Colorado Springs, Colo.

© 2007 The Associated Press