Off to the White House

Posted June 12, 2007 at 6:32pm

Perhaps Ed Gillespie just doesn’t like working at Quinn Gillespie & Associates.

Since co-founding the firm in 2000 with Jack Quinn, Gillespie has taken a number of leaves of absence to burnish his GOP credentials, including an 18-month stint as chairman of the Republican National Committee. But, of course, he has always come back. [IMGCAP(1)]

Now it looks like he’s finally going to punch his White House ticket — to take a job as White House counselor. That would require permanently severing ties with Quinn Gillespie & Associates, and ethics rules would prohibit him from agreeing in advance to return to the firm.

Quinn said he would only discuss the matter theoretically and could not confirm that Gillespie is planning to take the White House job.

“Hypothetically, we would be supportive of him as we have been in the past,” said Quinn, a Democrat, who was White House counsel to former President Bill Clinton. “I personally would sorely miss him. He is just the best partner I could imagine having.”

Quinn rolled off the various gigs that have taken Gillespie from the firm: working for the Bush-Cheney 2000 campaign; working for the campaign of Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R-N.C.); assisting with the confirmation hearings of Supreme Court justices John Roberts and Samuel Alito. “In the course of our long partnership, Ed has taken a number of significant outside assignments,” Quinn said.

During that time, though, Gillespie has helped make plenty of rain for the shop,which last year did $17.5 million in revenue and has 30 employees.

Quinn and Gillespie sold the firm to the WPP Group in 2003. Gillespie, before taking the White House gig, would have to settle up with WPP — his departure could conceivably cost him more than just the lucrative salary he draws; it could also impact his WPP buyout.

“In terms of the sale of this firm, I’m confident at the end of the day if this is what he chooses to do it can be done in a way that is good for everyone involved,” Quinn said. Quinn added that even if Gillespie severs his ties with the firm, the name could easily remain. “We don’t own the name of the firm,” he said. “We sold that.” (Barbour Griffith & Rogers also retained its name after Haley Barbour left to become governor of Mississippi.)

And now that Democrats run the House and Senate, Gillespie’s ties perhaps aren’t at the premium on Capitol Hill they once were.

“The many clients of QGA who have heard this speculation and asked me about it in recent days have universally been supportive of the firm and their relationship with us,” Quinn said. “So we have this drill down.”

Powering Up. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is jumping feet-first into the energy debate with a spinoff organization to tackle the knotty problem.

The business group’s leaders on Tuesday launched the project, called the Institute for 21st Century Energy, with a goal of delivering specific recommendations to presidential candidates in a year.

Calling current energy policy “a cross between stupidity and hypocrisy,” chamber President Tom Donohue predicted spending millions of dollars on the long-term education and advocacy campaign.

It is not yet clear how the chamber will wrangle a consensus view from its own membership, which includes major players already at odds in the debate over climate change, much less outside groups it wants to engage.

The new institute, headed by retired Gen. Jim Jones, already is staffing up.

K Street Moves. Wexler & Walker Public Policy Associates, which was founded by Democrat Anne Wexler, has partnered with three Democrats recently: Daniella Landau, Tonio Burgos and Steve Patterson, who have their own practices, will share their time with the firm. The firm also promoted Tim Hannegan and Joel Malina to executive vice president.