Republican candidate for governor of Virginia Ed Gillespie has taken a lot of heat from his Democratic rival, Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam, for his profitable career as a lobbyist in Washington D.C.
An ad from Northam’s Twitter’s page claims that Gillespie “used his political connections to cash out for $40 million,” referring to the 2004 sale of the bipartisan lobby firm that he co-founded four years prior with a Democratic political consultant.
But how much is Gillespie really worth?
According to Celebrity Net Worth, Gillespie is reportedly worth about $8 million. The website did not give a date for its assessment.
Gillespie’s assets, together with his wife’s, may be valued at up to $25 million, according to a 2014 financial disclosure, which also stated that his personal income for that year was about $3 million.
Here’s what you need to know about Ed Gillespie’s net worth:
1. He Co-Founded Prominent Bipartisan Lobby Group Quinn Gillespie & Associates, Which Listed $18 Million in Annual Revenue in 2007
In 2000, Gillespie and Democratic strategist Jack Quinn co-founded Quinn Gillespie & Associates, “the first truly bipartisan public affairs firm in Washington D.C.” According to the Washingtonian, the company pulled in about $18 million in revenue in 2007 with an estimated annual growth rate of 15 percent.
The company has a long history of hiring strategists and communication specialists from both sides of the aisle, as documented by New York Magazine in 2013, and was ranked as one of Washington’s most influential firms within just a few years of its founding, according to its website.
While at the firm, Gillespie handled such major clients as AT&T, Sony and several pharmaceutical companies. “Some of his largest fees have come from Canadian lumber producers seeking access to US markets,” said the Washingtonian in June 2007.
2. Gillespie & Quinn Sold the Lobby Group in 2004 for a Reported $40 Million
In 2004, Quinn and Gillespie sold Quinn Gillespie & Associates to WPP, a top international communications firm, for a reported $40 million.
The two stayed on at the company—Quinn is still its chairman today—though Gillespie exited in 2007 to take an advisory position at the White House
3. He Currently Owns Ed Gillespie Strategies, a Political Consulting Firm Based in Washington D.C. That Made $3 Million in 2014
After a two-year stint as a senior adviser in the Bush White House, Gillespie founded Ed Gillespie Strategies in 2009, a D.C.-based strategic management firm.
According to its Linkedin page, the company adheres to the following ethos: “The keystone is at the center of the graphic for Ed Gillespie Strategies because a well conceived strategy is the central, cohesive element of any successful effort to achieve an important objective. If the strategy is not well conceived, the effort will likely fail.”
Though Gillespie’s client list is mysterious—the firm’s website consists only of a home page with no more information than a business card would offer—its financials were briefly made public when he made a bid for a U.S. Senate seat in Virginia.
During his 2014 campaign, Gillespie was required to make mandatory financial disclosures to the Federal Election Commission. At the time, Gillespie listed that he had made $2,958,800 in partnership distributions from his company, Ed Gillespie Strategies, between January 9, 2014, and the filing date, September 2, 2014.
He also listed $64,000 in income from speaking engagements paid to him by Leading Authorities Inc., an organization that connects top public speakers with speaking engagements.
4. On a Financial Disclosure for His 2014 U.S. Senate Campaign, Gillespie Listed Shared Assets Between He & His Wife as Valuing Between $12 Million and $25 Million
Gillespie’s 2014 campaign disclosures also listed a number of assets held by him and his wife, Catherine, which were valued together at between $12 million and $25 million (candidates do not disclose the exact value of assets to the FEC, but give a range of value for each).
Among the largest assets were several large real estate holdings, including undeveloped land in Fairfax County valued between $1 and $5 million, a residential property in Dallas that is worth $500,000 to $1 million and a rental property in Long Beach Township, New Jersey, also valued between $500,000 and $1 million.
The disclosure also revealed that Gillespie owns a small stake in a real estate business, a production company and several investment groups. The majority of his holdings were listed in various mutual funds valued between $1,000 and $250,000.
5. After Losing $1 Million of His Own Money on His 2014 Senate Campaign, Gillespie Held A “Debt Retirement” Party Where High Profile GOP Politicians Helped Gillespie Repay His Campaign Debt to Himself
After the 1982 elections, The New York Times ran an article noting that debt retirement parties were “becoming an institution.” The practice involves throwing a party with a steep entry fee, or a suggested contribution, and inviting anyone liquid enough to shave off the enormous debts that many candidates wrack up during campaign season.
“About half of the political action committees reserve some campaign funds for debt retirement, and almost all of that goes to [election] winners. A spokesman for Ampac, the political arm of the American Medical Association, is ‘right up front’ about his committee’s refusal to help losers,” said the Times of the propensity for candidates to fill the guest lists of debt retirement parties with lobby groups.
After losing to incumbent Mark Warner in Virginia’s 2014 U.S. Senate race, former Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour and a group of lobbyists from his bipartisan Washington firm, BGR Group, hosted a debt retirement party on Gillespie’s behalf. The invite featured special guests Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senators Shelley Moore Capito, Cory Gardner and Rob Portman, with suggested contributions ranging from a single ticket for $500 to $5,200 for a “host couple.”
Gillespie’s campaign had $20,000 in its account but owed $990,000 to Gillespie himself, according to the Center for Public Integrity. Federal election laws limit $250,000 in restitution when the debt in question is owed to the candidate.
It is not known how much of the debt was repaid to Gillespie through the debt retirement party.