• Northam Thinks Fairfax’s Work Experience Disqualifies Him from Being Lieutenant Governor

    -Northam, DPV, and VEA Have Attacked Gillespie On His Career; Fairfax Did Similar Work-
    Will Northam Rescind His Support of Fairfax? Will VEA Rescind Its Fairfax Endorsement? Will VEA Pull Its Ads Against Gillespie? Will VEA Run Ads Against Fairfax?

    2017 Republican gubernatorial nominee Ed Gillespie has repeatedly been attacked by Ralph Northam, the Democratic Party of Virginia and the Virginia Education Association for one client that Ed’s firm did work for over a decade ago. Yesterday, however, The Washington Post reported that Justin Fairfax, the Democratic nominee for Lieutenant Governor did the same type of work Gillespie has been criticized for.

    Yesterday, The Washington Post reported:

    “Democrats have pummeled the Republican gubernatorial candidate, Ed Gillespie, because his lobbying firm represented a student loan provider in the mid-2000s that was accused of defrauding taxpayers. But at his first legal job, Fairfax represented a different lender involved in the same scandal.” (The Washington Post, 10/10/17)
    Northam has said: “My opponent has worked on behalf of student loan lenders to keep the costs of college higher in order to line his own pockets at Virginian’s expense,” (The Washington Post, 10/3/17). Virginia Democrats have echoed those attacks.

    The Virginia Education Association Fund has endorsed Fairfax for Lieutenant Governor while simultaneously running and ad buy of over $500,000 against Ed Gillespie. Northam has received $20,000 in campaign contributions from the VEA, according to Virginia Public Access Project.

    The reports raise these questions:

    Will Northam Rescind His Support of Fairfax?
    Will VEA Rescind Its Fairfax Endorsement?
    Will VEA Pull Its Ads Against Gillespie?
    Will VEA Run Ads Against Fairfax?
    Or was the VEA playing partisan politics all along…

    Background
    Ralph Northam

    From The Washington Post:
    “My opponent has worked on behalf of student loan lenders to keep the costs of college higher in order to line his own pockets at Virginian’s expense,” Northam said, in a statement. “I want all kids to have the same opportunities that I’ve had, and as governor, I’ll work to strengthen our system of higher education to ensure its access, excellence and most of all – its affordability.” (The Washington Post, 10/3/17)

    From A Northam Campaign Press Release:
    Northam for Governor Campaign Manager Brad Komar released the following statement on Dr. Ralph Northam’s victory in the third general election debate:

    “With tonight’s victory, it was clear who will lead Virginia forward: Dr. Ralph Northam. Ralph again proved to voters that he’ll fight for the best interests of all Virginians, while Trump-lobbyist Ed Gillespie will lean into his career working for predatory student loan companies and big Wall Street banks, selling out Virginians to the highest bidder. (Northam Press Release, 10/10/17)

    From A Northam Campaign Press Release:
    Ed Gillespie’s career of lobbying for corporate interests is long, and his success has often come at the expense of hardworking Virginians. In his newest ad today, Gillespie boasts that “special interests have too much sway over policy in Richmond right now.

    Yet, Trump’s top Virginia lobbyist has a resume of lobbying for the student-loan industry as it was fighting for profits over students, representing Enron, and “turned his relationship with President Bush into an $18-million business.” Now, dark money Koch-funded organizations like Americans for Prosperity are pumping money into Virginia to help get Gillespie elected, despite Ed’s pledge to crack down on special interests.

    “Virginians will never buy the story that Gillespie will stand up to special interests when he made his millions as a corporate lobbyist representing companies like Enron. That’s like a gator trying to go vegan.” said Northam spokeswoman Christina Freundlich. “Gillespie’s corporate lobbying success and work for dark money political organizations often came at the expense of Virginians. And now, dark money organizations are pumping money into helping get Gillespie elected as if he was registered as the Koch lobbyist. The only special interest Gillespie has is in himself, the wealthy, and Donald Trump.” (Northam Press Release, 8/10/17)

    From A Northam Campaign Press Release:
    Northam for Governor press secretary, Ofirah Yheskel, issued the following statement in response to the announcement:

    “Only in DC would being a lobbyist for a corporation like Enron qualify you as a small business owner. Instead, Ed Gillespie’s career of economic accomplishments have included fighting for tax breaks for corporations, tax breaks for the wealthy, stripping health care away from potentially millions of Americans and putting student loan company profits over students. These ads are nothing but audition tapes for Ed Gillespie to be Donald Trump’s lobbyist in Virginia.” (Northam Press Release, 7/25/17)

    From a Northam Fundraising Email:

    “In last night’s debate Ed Gillespie made a pretty telling statement:

    ‘I did show up for my clients.’

    But here are just a few of the clients he’s always shown up for:

    Predatory student lenders…”

    Virginia Democrats

    From a Virginia Democrats Press Release:
    Delegate Marcus Simon, Education Advocates and Virginia Students Call Gillespie’s Work for Student Loan Companies Disqualifying

    Gillespie’s Firm Made Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars Lobbying for Predatory Student Loan Companies at the Expense of Virginia Students.

    Today Delegate Marcus Simon, former senior education counsel to Senator Edward Kennedy Michael Dannenberg, Generation Progress Action Executive Director Maggie Thompson, and Democrats at UVA Chair Elizabeth Parker laid out why Ed Gillespie’s years of lobbying for predatory student loan companies disqualifies him from serving as Virginia’s next governor. On a media conference call, speakers discussed why – in the wake of the Washington Post’s devastating report detailing Gillespie’s work for predatory loan companies – the Republican gubernatorial nominees is unfit to oversee Virginia’s higher education system.

    Listen to the press call here.

    The Post investigation revealed that, as a lobbyist in the 2000s, Gillespie and his firm made hundreds of thousands of dollars working to keep students loans expensive – and lobbying against policies to make it easier for Virginia students to afford to go to college. With Gillespie’s help, Bank of America and the private student loan lender, Nelnet, tried to kill legislation to take money away from predatory student loan companies and put it towards lowering the interest on student loans.

    “It has been shocking to read that Ed Gillespie made hundreds of thousands of dollars lobbying against student loan borrowers and on behalf of private companies that seek to profit from keeping student loan interest rates high and limited oversight of student loan oversight practices,” said Delegate Marcus Simon.

    “Gillespie hasn’t been telling Virginians his firm specifically lobbied for the Nelnet corporation at a time when it worked separately to keep nearly $300 million in illegally claimed student loan payments,” said Michael Dannenberg, former Senior Education Counsel to Sen. Edward M. Kennedy. “The ill-gotten gains from the Nelnet student loan bank heist could have wiped out the student loan debt of every borrower at the University of Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth, George Mason, William and Mary and Virginia Tech.”

    “We want to be sure borrowers in Virginia understand there is a clear difference between these two candidates and know about Ed Gillespie’s background lobbying on behalf of the people that are making money off of student debt,” said Maggie Thompson, Generation Progress Action Executive Director.”As late as this year there are still borrowers that are having issues with Nelnet with some of the same types of problems that they were having back when Ed Gillespie lobbied for them. There is such a difference between the two candidates in Virginia this year.”

    “Ed Gillespie claims to be running as a Governor for all Virginians, but it’s pretty clear from this investigation that Gillespie never has and never will be able to stand up for Virginia students like me,” said Elizabeth Parker, Chair of Democrats at UVA and a fourth year student at UVA. “As a student at a school like UVA, it’s frustrating that Ed Gillespie continues to sell himself as a viable candidate to students around the Commonwealth, when it’s clear that his loyalties don’t lie with us as students, but with these predatory student loan companies.” (Virginia Democrats Press Release, 10/4/17)

    From Virginia Democrats Press Release:

    Before Second Debate, Gillespie Doubles Down, Brags About His Work Lobbying for Predatory Student Loan Companies and Corporations That Laid Off Workers

    Gillespie Is Touting His Consulting Work on the Campaign Trail – But Refuses to Release His Clients

    For the past week, the Democratic Party of Virginia has been calling out Ed Gillespie for spending decades working for predatory student loan companies, Enron, and corporations that have laid off Virginia workers. In a series of events across the commonwealth, Virginia Democrats – including Tom Perriello, State Sen. John Edwards, Delegates Marcus Simon and Mark Levine, and Candidate for Delegate Djuna Osborne – have been hitting Gillespie’s shady work for student loan companies and urging him to disclose all of his clients from the past five years. (Virginia Democrats Press Release, 9/19/17)

    Virginia Education Association

    From a Virginia Education Association Press Release:

    Teachers’ Group Launches TV Ad: Ed Gillespie ‘Doesn’t Stand for Education’

    In a TV ad campaign set to launch Sunday, the Virginia Education Association (VEA) warns that gubernatorial candidate Ed Gillespie’s tax and education proposals would deal a crushing blow to students and public schools in the Commonwealth.

    The ad, “Education,” cites Gillespie’s tax plan, which would trigger large cuts to school funding, as well as Gillespie’s support for voucher programs that would transfer public dollars to unaccountable private interests. As Virginia parents struggle to cope with rising college tuition costs, the ad also notes that Gillespie, as a Washington, D.C., lobbyist represented lenders trying to keep interest loan rates high.

    “Ed Gillespie wants to take the Donald Trump-Betsy DeVos agenda of school funding cuts and vouchers and import it to the Commonwealth,” says Jim Livingston, president of the VEA, which represents 50,000 teachers and education support professionals in Virginia. “He’s ignoring the disastrous consequences of state funding cuts and vouchers in other states, because he cares more about ideology than about our public school students.”

    The text of the ad follows:

    “They’re studying for 21st century jobs…”

    “But Ed Gillespie supports Donald Trump’s plan to take money out of Virginia public schools and give it to private schools…”

    “As a Washington, D.C., lobbyist, Ed Gillespie worked for lenders trying to keep student loan rates high…”

    “And Ed Gillespie’s plan to cut taxes for the wealthy could cut Virginia’s school funding, too…”

    “Ed doesn’t stand for education.” (VEA Press Release, 9/8/17)

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