After His White House Gig, Gillespie Opts to Go Solo

Posted April 27, 2009 at 6:30pm

Ed Gillespie, a former Republican National Committee chairman and presidential counselor in the Bush administration, announced on Monday that he is hanging out a new shingle and — for now, at least — not reviving his once-successful lobbying career.

The veteran GOP hand on Monday publicly launched Ed Gillespie Strategies, a solo consulting venture that “will provide high-level advice to companies and CEOs, coalitions and trade associations.— He said he will not register as a lobbyist on behalf of his clients.

Gillespie confirmed that it’s up to his old firm, Quinn Gillespie & Associates, whether to change the sign on its door.

“They own the name,— he said. “I didn’t expect when we sold it that I would be leaving and going to the White House but that’s business. There’s no frustration.

“They purchased it,— he added. “It’s a brand.—

Quinn Gillespie was purchased by WPP Group Inc., an international communications conglomerate that also owns Burson-Marsteller, Wexler & Walker Public Policy Associates, Ogilvy Public Relations and Timmons & Co. Inc.

Quinn Gillespie spokeswoman Ashley Prime said on Monday that her employer has no plans to change its name.

“Quinn Gillespie’ is and has been a very valuable brand name — sufficiently so that we sold that brand name to our parent company some years ago,— Prime wrote in an e-mail. “Because we don’t own the name, we were not required to change it when Ed went to work in the White House. By the same token, we don’t imagine that WPP would choose to abandon the name simply because Ed has left the White House.—

WPP’s corporate office did not respond to a request for comment.

Gillespie and former Clinton White House aide Jack Quinn started their eponymous firm in 1999, selling it to WPP some four years later. The firm has experienced a number of departures in recent months, including the exit of the firm’s third co-founder, Jeff Connaughton.

Connaughton, who also worked as a Clinton aide, left the firm in January to become Sen. Ted Kaufman’s (D-Del.) chief of staff. Kaufman and Connaughton both once worked for now-Vice President Joseph Biden, a former Delaware Senator.

Gillespie severed ties with Quinn Gillespie & Associates in June 2007, when he left to become a counselor to President George W. Bush.

He said he made his decision not to lobby again after Bush left office, which quickly put to rest whether he would rejoin Quinn and his other colleagues.

“I decided after leaving the White House that I wasn’t going to go back to lobbying,— he said. “And since I wasn’t going to lobby, that would make me of limited use to Quinn Gillespie & Associates.—

“I just felt that after serving at the level at the White House that I did, [lobbying] just didn’t make sense to me,— Gillespie added.

For now, Gillespie said his new venture will be a stripped-down affair. The Old Town, Alexandria-based consultancy consists of himself, his Rolodex and an assistant, and he’ll add staff only “if business warrants.—

“I wanted to be the person who serves the clients and keep it small,— he said. “That’s my initial business model.—

Gillespie also confirmed he already has paying clients — “fortunate to have a running start,— he said — although he declined to name names. He said he’ll specialize in “getting from point A to point B— and managing crises.

“A lot of folks know where they are and where they want to go, but don’t know how to get there,— Gillespie said. “Strategic planning, communications and message development and delivery has always been my first love.—