Listen to our own Laura MacCleery discuss Bush’s new counselor, Enron and Viacom lobbyist Ed Gillespie on NPR’s Marketplace. As Laura notes, Enron indirectly paid Gillespie $700,000 in 2001 alone, through
several conservative front groups, enabling Gillespie to publicly flack for the
White House Energy plan. In addition, Public Citizen found that 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.
Public Citizen’s Joan Claybrook had this to say about the Gillespie appointment:
We are disappointed that the president has appointed a lobbyist who has represented the narrow interests of business to be White House counselor, rather than someone who could bring a broader perspective to the White House. Given President’s Bush’s abysmal poll results, he needs someone with a different view.
Ed Gillespie has long been part of the Bush money machine, helping to raise hundreds of millions of dollars from business interests for Bush’s 2004 re-election campaign. Gillespie’s lobbying clients have included some of the nation’s business giants. He fought on behalf of Enron against efforts to re-regulate the electricity market, which would have ended Enron’s price-gouging. He pushed for the energy legislation enacted in 2005, which included some $25 billion in corporate subsidies for oil, gas nuclear and coal interests. On behalf of financial service clients, he pushed for watering down accounting reforms. On behalf of Chrysler, he fought against improvement of fuel economy standards. On behalf of the Chamber of Commerce, he fought for limiting citizen access to the courts. In his new position as counselor to the president, he will be forging policy that likely will undermine public needs.
By moving from lobbyist to chair of the Republican National Committee, back to lobbyist and then to White House counselor, he is a prime example of a revolving door that has spun out of control.
Learn more about Gillespie’s lengthy history [pdf] working for corporations to dismantle government oversight and advantage clients in consumer complaints and federal fiscal policy.
Bush continues to co-opt the government for big corporate interests by appointing cronies and hacks to offices of influence. The consolidation of private interests in the public domain is hobbling consumer protections for health and safety. It’s dangerous, and expensive. In 2006, taxpayers paid $64 billion dollars in earmarks for special interests.