Donald Trump’s promise to voters in 2016 was that he’d “Drain the Swamp,” meaning he’d take away power from the big Washington lobbyists that work for big corporations, but it turns out that he’s done the exact opposite. He’s been filling the swamp, loading up the federal government with “a small army of former lobbyists,” eschewing ethics and transparency and flat-out lying to his constituents. And now, he wants to extend that swamp to Virginia, by electing former lobbyist Ed Gillespie Governor of Virginia.
Trump knows he can trust Ed Gillespie to do his bidding in Virginia because that’s exactly what Gillespie has done his entire career. Long-time lobbyist Ed Gillespie has made millions of dollars by working for special interests in D.C. Gillespie—who, according to his own words, only represented clients whose positions he was “comfortable with”– became one of the wealthiest lobbyists by repeatedly placing the interests of Virginians on the line.
From lobbying for the privatization of Social Security and putting Virginians’ livelihoods at risk to lobbying for a company that polluted Virginia’s waterways, Gillespie is the epitome of the swamp. One of his biggest clients perpetrated the largest corporate fraud in recent history and cost former employees hundreds of millions in lost retirement and savings.
It’s no wonder why Gillespie has been described as a “well-fed alligator” in “the Trump-labeled ‘swamp’” of D.C.
Just take a quick look into Gillespie’s swampy past.
Just like Trump’s promise that no one would lose their Medicaid, which has since been blown to smithereens, he also said no one would lose Social Security and then promptly released a budget doing just that.
At least we know where Gillespie stands on the issue. There’s no way around it: Ed Gillespie chose big business over Virginia’s seniors. Ed Gillespie lobbied for privatization of Social Security, which would make the financial institutions billions of dollars, while threatening the system that over 150,000 Virginians rely on.
In 1998, Gillespie lobbied on behalf of State Street Bank—one of the key corporate players and “most aggressive voice” in the push to privatize Social Security – a proposal that threatened the system that American seniors depend on, and if implemented, would send billions of dollars back to financial institutions like State Street.
1998: State Street Bank & Trust Co. Paid Barbour Griffith & Rogers For Lobbying The Federal Government; Gillespie Was Listed As One Of The Lobbyists. In 1998, State Street Bank & Trust Co. paid Barbour Griffith & Rogers $120,000 for lobbying the federal government. Gillespie and Barbour Griffith & Rogers lobbied Congress on “S2392, Year 2000 Info and Readiness Disclosure Act; Issues surrounding the debate over Social Security reform.”
State Street “Emerged As The Most Aggressive Voice In Corporate America For Changing The System On Which 43 Million Retired And Disabled Workers And Their Families Depend For Much Of Their Livelihoods.” According to the Boston Globe, “In the battle over rewriting America’s social contract, few subjects loom larger than Social Security and few players are more prominent than Boston’s State Street Bank & Trust Co. The two-century-old institution, which is less a bank than a quiet guardian of institutional money and business records, has emerged as the most aggressive voice in corporate America for changing the system on which 43 million retired and disabled workers and their families depend for much of their livelihoods.” [Boston Globe, 10/24/96]
State Street Pushed For Social Security Privatization, Which Would Then “Send Billions of New Dollars Coursing Through Financial Institutions Like State Street.” According to the Boston Globe, “Since the beginning of the year, the bank’s chairman and an executive with its money-management subsidiary have published a book detailing their proposal for recasting Social Security. The bank has plunked down $ 100,000 for no fewer than three Washington think tanks to study the subject. And it has participated in a raft of forums, including one today with The Boston Globe and a big-name event scheduled for next month in New York with the Council on Foreign Relations. […] That’s because State Street is pushing the privatization of Social Security. It is seeking the substantial conversion of the huge, New Deal-era benefits program from an insurance system to an investment vehicle, one that would let participants take bigger risks and reap bigger rewards by putting much of their retirement money in the stock market, and one that would, not incidentally, send billions of new dollars coursing through financial institutions like State Street.” [Boston Globe, 10/24/96]
Gillespie Defended George W. Bush’s Proposal For Private Accounts For Social Security. According to NBC News, MR. GILLESPIE: His policy is clear, Tim. He is in favor of allowing younger voters to divert a portion of their payroll tax to a government-approved private account to harness the growth, because if we don’t Social Security’s going to go bankrupt. When my children go into the system, it’s not going to be there for them. We need to save the system. The president’s got an innovative plan. The American people know what it is, and these kind of scare tactics aren’t going to work at the end of the day.’” [NBC News, 10/25/04]
PHOTO: GAGE SKIDMORE
As Donald Trump dismantles the EPA, endangering Americans’ health and the state of our water and air, Gillespie worked hand in hand with the companies that skirted regulations and polluted Virginia’s own waterways.
Between 2005 – 2007, Gillespie lobbied on immigration, waste regulation, and other issues at Tyson Foods Inc – a company repeatedly cited for major environmental violations in Virginia and elsewhere. In 2005 and 2006 the Virginia Environmental Quality fined Tyson’s tens of thousands for water violations along Virginia’s Eastern Shore and in Henrico County for illegal wastewater seeping into a local stream and for causing two fish kills in the Chickahominy River.
2005-2007: Gillespie Lobbied For Tyson Foods Inc. According to lobbying disclosure reports filed with the U.S. Senate Office of Public Records, Gillespie lobbied for Tyson Foods Inc. from 2005 to 2007. The firm declined to disclose the specific issues Gillespie lobbied on, choosing instead to simply list “General Representation.” [U.S. Senate Office of Public Records, accessed 3/16/14]
2005: Tyson Foods Was Fined $18,400 For Environmental Violations On Virginia’s Eastern Shore. According to the Virginian-Pilot, “Poultry giant Tyson Foods Inc. has agreed to pay an $18,400 fine and upgrade its chicken processing plant on Virginia’s Eastern Shore to settle several environmental violations from last year. According to a proposed settlement with state regulators released this week, problems surfaced at the Accomack County complex last May, when an inspector from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality saw wastewater spilling from an earthen holding pond into a local stream. Slaughterhouse wastes were seen seeping onto the ground from a malfunctioning pump station nearby, according to case records.” [The Virginian-Pilot, 2/26/05]
Tyson Foods Agreed To Pay Nearly $4 Million In A Settlement With The EPA Over Alleged Violations Of The Clean Air Act. According to a news release from the Environmental Protection Agency, “Tyson Foods, Inc., has agreed to pay a $3,950,000 civil penalty to settle alleged violations of Clean Air Act regulations covering the prevention of chemical accidents at its facilities in Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska, the Justice Department and Environmental Protection Agency announced… As part of a consent decree lodged…in U.S. District Court in St. Louis, Mo., Tyson has agreed to conduct pipe-testing and third-party audits of its ammonia refrigeration systems to improve compliance with the Clean Air Act’s Risk Management Program requirements at all 23 of the company’s facilities in the four Midwestern states. Today’s settlement stems from a series of eight separate incidents between 2006 and 2010 in which accidental releases of anhydrous ammonia at Tyson facilities resulted in property damage, multiple injuries, and one fatality.” [Environmental Protection Agency, News Release, 4/5/13]
Trump and Gillespie both have a long and sordid past when it comes to screwing over workers. Not only did Trump cheat contractors out of their money, he fought against workers looking to increase their pay. Ed Gillespie, like Trump, has a history of siding with big corporations (no matter how corrupt) over workers.
While Enron was doing everything they could (including using fraudulent and deceptive accounting practices) to hide its deteriorating financial situation from investors and creditors, Gillespie’s firm was lobbying to win Enron over $250 million in federal tax credits.
Less than a month before bankruptcy and 20,000 workers suffered hundreds of millions in losses in retirement and savings accounts, Enron paid Gillespie’s firm more than $257,985, prompting a creditor lawsuit against Quinn Gillespie & Associates. In 2005, Gillespie’s firm settled with Enron creditors for $128,992 over allegations that it received improper payments prior to the company’s collapse.
In 2014, Forbes listed the Enron scandal as the largest corporate fraud in recent history.
Former Enron Employee: Gillespie “Was Our Hired Gun,” And Whenever We Needed Access “The First Call Was To Gillespie.” According to Washington Post, “Gillespie ‘was our hired gun,’ recalled one former Enron employee. ‘Whenever we had to get in to see a Republican, the first call was to Gillespie.’” [Washington Post, 1/26/02]
Gillespie Said Enron Hired Quinn Gillespie And Associates To Lobby For Lower Taxes, Deregulation, And Opposition To Price Controls. According to the Dallas Morning News, “Mr. Gillespie said he knows nothing about the questionable dealings that have subjected Enron to a raft of investigations. He said the Houston energy giant hired his firm, Quinn Gillespie & Associates, to promote issues he has championed his entire career, including lower taxes, deregulation and opposition to price controls. Enron paid the firm about $ 700,000, according to records.” [Dallas Morning News, 2/17/02]
Forbes Named Enron Scandal The Largest Corporate Fraud in Recent History. [Forbes, 3/14/14]
Enron’s Creditors Brought An Action Against Quinn Gillespie & Associates To Recover A Transfer Made By Enron Within Ninety Days Prior To The Bankruptcy Petition Date. According to a Complaint filed by Enron Corp. against Quinn Gillespie & Associates, Enron brought an action against Quinn Gillespie & Associates to “avoid and recover a certain transfer made, directly or indirectly, by Enron to the Defendant on or within ninety days prior to the Petition Date.” [US.Archive.org, 10/9/03]
Enron’s Creditors And Quinn Gillespie & Associates Settled For $128,992.86. According to a Notice of Settlement filed by Enron Corp., Enron Corp. and Quinn Gillespie & Associates settled the claim in the amount of $128,992.86 to be paid by Quinn Gillespie & Associates to Enron Corp. The action was subsequently dismissed. [US.Archive.org, 3/18/05; US.Archive.org, 5/9/05]
PHOTO: NATIONAL ARCHIVES
PHOTO: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
Just like Trump, Gillespie is willing to put farmers and rural America at risk — as long as his corporate buddies can turn a profit.
As a Washington lobbyist, Gillespie worked for a reckless New York finance firm that put Virginia farmers at risk. His firm cashed $240,000 worth of checks from MF Global, a brokerage firm with a history of playing fast and loose with the rules. In 2011, the company went bankrupt, wreaking havoc on Virginia farms in the process. As one Virginia farmer wrote, “When the dust settled, there was over $1 billion missing from customer accounts. That money belonged not to Wall Street, but to farmers, local grain elevators, and livestock feedlots. The MF Global bankruptcy was a disaster for the farm economy.”
2006-2007: MF Global Paid Quinn, Gillespie $240,000 For Lobbying The Commodity Future Trading Commission And Other Federal Bodies On Its Behalf; Gillespie Was Listed As One Of The Lobbyists. Between 2006 and 2007, MF Global paid Quinn, Gillespie& Associates a total of $240,000 for lobbying on its behalf. Gillespie and his firm lobbied Congress, the Office of the President, and the Commodity Futures Traders Commission on “CFTC Issue Reauthorization.” The lobbying is detailed in the following table:
MF Global Drew More Fines From The CFTC Than Any Other Similar Firm In The Decade Preceding Its Bankruptcy. According to Reuters, “Long before the brokerage firm MF Global collapsed into bankruptcy and prompted a frantic search for missing customer money, the company had already established a checkered history. An analysis of regulatory enforcement actions shows MF Global has drawn more sanctions from the U.S. commodity futures regulator than each of its 14 closest peers in that market over the past decade. MF Global has also drawn the second-highest amount in fines, for alleged lapses in risk supervision and recordkeeping.” [Reuters, 11/11/11]
Wall Street Journal: “The Havoc Wreaked By MF Global’s Bankruptcy Filing Has Been Felt Not Just By Wall Street Investors And Traders, But Also By Wheat And Corn Growers, Cattle Ranchers And Pig Farmers.” According to the Wall Street Journal, “The havoc wreaked by MF Global’s bankruptcy filing has been felt not just by Wall Street investors and traders, but also by wheat and corn growers, cattle ranchers and pig farmers. Dotting the farm belt, many who used the commodities market to protect against price swings are finding their money locked up and their hedges unwound due to the firm’s downfall.” [Wall Street Journal, 12/7/11]
Virginia Farmer Bryant Osborn Op-Ed: “The MF Global Bankruptcy Was A Disaster For The Farm Economy.” In an op-ed, Bryant Osborn, the owner of Corvallis Farms in Culpeper County, Virginia, wrote, “The losses from the European sovereign debt bankrupted the company. When the dust settled, there was over $1 billion missing from customer accounts. That money belonged not to Wall Street, but to farmers, local grain elevators, and livestock feedlots. The MF Global bankruptcy was a disaster for the farm economy.” [Bryant Osborn Op-Ed – Culpeper Star-Exponent, 6/28/13]