“The line between lobbying the federal government and running it just got blurrier.” New Bush counselor Ed Gillespie “will enter the White House with recent lobbying ties to dozens of companies seeking the federal government’s help on everything from proposed acquisitions to patent disputes.”
Gillespie…is a partner in Quinn Gillespie & Associates LLC, a lobbying firm whose clients include: Sirius Satellite Radio (SIRI), which needs antitrust approval to acquire a rival; Qualcomm (QCOM), which wants Bush to veto a federal agency’s ban on imported cell phones made with its chips; and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, a trade group trying to limit drug industry regulation. [...]
Despite the potential for conflicts of interest, Gillespie won’t be forced in his new role to recuse himself from all matters related to the companies he has lobbied for, said Ken Gross, a Washington-based attorney and former associate general counsel with the Federal Election Commission.
Instead, Gillespie will have to decide on a case-by-case basis if his activities could violate federal ethics standards.
UPDATE: Gillespie had a tough time explaining himself to reporters today:
What he hoped would be an informal chat with a few journalists on hand quickly became an initiation into life as an official part of the White House — and in this case, an unpopular one. …
“It’s going to be fun. I can’t wait. It’s exciting,” he assured everyone, including, it almost seemed, himself. [...]
Suddenly, a digital recorder appeared. The jocularity evaporated, and Gillespie immediately found himself trying not to say who his lobbying clients were.
“We have about 45 clients at the firm, and 29 people there, and I work on all kinds … it’s hard to say …” he said, before finally admitting to having some telecommunications and financial service companies in the firm’s docket.
“I wasn’t actually here to do an interview — I just wanted to say hi,” he pleaded. And so, back to generalities.