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Frank Fahrenkopf, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee, has joined the Eisenhower Memorial Commission Advisory Committee and will serve as its co-chairman.
Fahrenkopf, who retired as head of the American Gaming Association in June, will split the chairman duties with Gen. Paul X. Kelley, the former commandant of the Marine Corps.
“The Eisenhower Memorial is a truly important project — for our nation and for the world. Ike was always one of my heroes. His life is a quintessentially American story. Through the brilliant design of this memorial, it will be told to generations to come. It is a great honor to for me to become part of this noble effort. There is work to do, and I can’t wait to get started,” Fahrenkopf said in a statement released by the commission.
There is indeed work to do: The planning of the memorial has been fraught with peril. Frank Gehry’s design, which the commission has been helping hone for years, has come under heavy criticism from the Eisenhower family, as well as some art historians, such as commission member Bruce Cole. In September, the Eisenhower Memorial Commission pulled out of a planned National Capital Planning Commission meeting that was slated to discuss the memorial, saying it needed more time to review design issues broached by an NCPC report.
Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, has sponsored legislation to scrap Gehry’s design, eliminate congressional funding for the commission and sunset the organization within three years of the measure’s enactment, a proposal the commission isn’t too thrilled about.
But Fahrenkopf has plenty of experience in tough political climates. He headed the American Gaming Association since its founding in 1995. “I have enjoyed my time at the helm of this incredible organization and am proud to have represented an industry that provides tens of millions of men and women with the best entertainment value in the world,” Fahrenkopf said in a statement at the time. He has also served as a co-chairman of the Commission on Presidential Debates.
He raised eyebrows among some Republicans in 2010 when he announced his support for the re-election bid of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., citing concerns that Reid’s GOP opponent, Sharron Angle, was insufficiently supportive of the gambling industry.