Joe M. Allbaugh

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Joe M. Allbaugh (born July 27, 1952) is an American political figure in the Republican Party. After spending most of his career in Oklahoma and Texas, Allbaugh came to national prominence working for Texas governor George W. Bush and helping manage his 2000 presidential election campaign. Allbaugh then became a member of Bush's cabinet as Director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) beginning in February 2001. He served until FEMA's transfer into the newly created Department of Homeland Security, after which he resigned in March 2003.

After leaving FEMA, Allbaugh has participated in numerous private ventures such as New Bridge Strategies, a private company that helps clients get contracts in Iraq.[1] This prompted blogger Billmon to comment, "Heck, it seems like only yesterday that Joe Allbaugh was complaining about how FEMA was nothing more than an 'overgrown entitlement program' for the poor. Of course, that was before Joe became an overgrown entitlement program -- although not exactly for the poor."[2]

Early political involvement

Allbaugh began working on political campaigns at the age of 12 as a volunteer for Barry Goldwater's presidential campaign.[1] According to the Washington Post, he "studied political science at Oklahoma State University, becoming the first male in his family to graduate from college." Instead of attending law school, "he was bitten by the campaign bug and started to do volunteer work," first during "an Oklahoma congressional race in 1968 ... [then] a gubernatorial campaign in 1970, worked on a Senate campaign in 1972 and in 1974 got his first paid campaign job as a driver and aide-de-camp for Republican Henry Bellmon."

"He worked on the political field staff in the Reagan-Bush campaign in 1984, but 'was burned out of the traveling' by the time it ended and moved back to Oklahoma City. In 1986, he helped Bellmon win election as governor and spent 18 months in the governor's office, where he first met George W. Bush. 'I was the Karl Rove of Bellmon's operation,' he says." Early in 1994, Allbaugh joined George W. Bush in his campaign for the White House."[2]

Allbaugh later served as a deputy secretary of transportation under Bellmon's successor, David Walters.[3]

The George W. Bush campaigns

In 1994, Allbaugh was brought to Texas by George W. Bush to manage his campaign for governor. After Bush's victory, Allbaugh worked as gubernatorial chief of staff, serving until 1999 when he shifted posts to become campaign manager in Bush's run for the presidency. In this capacity Allbaugh was a key member of a tight circle of aides, together with Karl Rove and Karen Hughes, that the media dubbed the "Iron Triangle". Allbaugh called the trio "the brain, the brawn and the bite", with himself as the brawn at 6 feet 4 inches and 275 pounds.[2]

After Bush secured the Republican nomination, he chose Dick Cheney to lead the process of screening and selecting a running mate. Allbaugh ended up with the responsibility of vetting Cheney himself when Bush focused directly on Cheney as his choice for Vice President, rather than as the man to simply help with the choice.[4] The screening process was subsequently called into question when Cheney's Halliburton stock options, along with his sparse voting record in state and local elections, came to light. A Cheney spokeswoman defended Allbaugh's vetting process, saying it "was as thorough, if not more thorough than what other candidates went through." It remained unclear whether Cheney had filled out a questionnaire he had given the other potential running mates, which dealt with these issues among other topics.[5]

When the election results turned into a dispute over Florida ballot counts, Allbaugh went to Florida to run the post-election operation there while other advisers remained behind in Texas.[6] After the legal maneuverings played out with Bush prevailing, he named Allbaugh as his nominee to head the Federal Emergency Management Agency on January 4, 2001.[3]

Allbaugh at FEMA

Allbaugh was confirmed as Director of FEMA in February 2001 by the Senate in a unanimous vote.[7] He gained some attention that April for remarks questioning whether taxpayers should have to cover the cost of rebuilding properties that suffer repeated flood damage, just as the Mississippi River was flooding.[8] This turned into a public disagreement with the mayor of Davenport, Iowa, one of the affected cities, and brought up policy issues that would arise again under Allbaugh's successor after Hurricane Katrina. The Bush administration also proposed cuts to FEMA's budget and the National Flood Insurance Program.[9] After Tropical Storm Allison hit Texas in June, however, Allbaugh said the budget cuts would affect the agency's ability to respond to future disasters.[10]

In May, Bush announced that FEMA would expand its responsibility to include government response to terrorist attacks. Allbaugh explained that this mission, dubbed "homeland defense", would focus on dealing with the effects of such attacks, but not extend to gathering intelligence to prevent them.[11] This left the agency as one of the most visible responders in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks. At the time of the attacks, Allbaugh was attending a conference in Big Sky, Montana, on the subject of emergency response.[12]

As the September 11 attacks, a cabinet reorganization made FEMA part of the newly created Department of Homeland Security. Afgter Allbaugh was passed over as secretary in favor of Tom Ridge, he resigned from FEMA effective March 1, 2003, the date the reorganization was to take effect.[13] He continued to serve, however, on the Homeland Security Advisory Council. His successor at FEMA was Michael Brown, another Oklahoma native and an old friend from Republican state politics. Allbaugh had hired Brown as general counsel, and he went on to become deputy director before taking over the top post at the agency.[14]

Post-FEMA career

After leaving the government, Allbaugh capitalized on his ties with the Bush administration by going into private business ventures connected with Bush's policy objectives. In September 2003, he became president of New Bridge Strategies,[3][4][5][6] a consulting firm to help clients "evaluate and take advantage of business opportunities in the Middle East following the conclusion of the US-led war in Iraq." He also became co-chair of Diligence-Iraq, a security company founded by former CIA and FBI chief William Webster and 40 percent owned by a wealthy Kuwaiti politician, which provides protection for companies doing business there.[15][16][17]

Allbaugh also started his own firm, which he merged in 2004 with that of his wife Diane, who had worked as a lobbyist at the Republican firm of Barbour Griffith & Rogers during his government service.[18][19] The Washington Post described the Allbaugh Company as "a lobbying-consulting firm with many clients in the disaster-relief business. ... Among those clients are: the KBR division of Haliburton; TruePosition, a manufacturer of wireless location products, services and devices; the Shaw Group, a provider of engineering, design, construction, and maintenance services to government and the private sector; and UltraStrip, which is marketing the first water filtration system approved by the Environmental Protection Agency."[20] The Wall Street Journal compared his work to that of his predecessor at FEMA, James Lee Witt, who also went into the private sector.[21]

On July 12, 2006, Emergent Biosolutions, maker of the Anthrax Vaccine under its former name BioPort, announced that Allbaugh joined the Board of Directors. BioPort had been the subject of an unsatisfactory FDA inspection, a recall, and a warning letter. In September 2006, Allbaugh was elected president of Ecosphere Systems, Inc.

Hurricane Katrina

Allbaugh traveled to the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina to help coordinate private-sector support, according to his spokeswoman. His clients were among the first to win federal contracts to help with hurricane recovery: Shaw won a bid potentially worth $100 million to refurbish buildings and provide emergency housing, and KBR received $29.8 million from the Pentagon to rebuild Navy bases in Louisiana and Mississippi.[22] [23]

"There's going to be so much money flowing that Joe Allbaugh might even be convinced to bring his influence-peddling operation stateside again. In fact, if you were ever planning to become a Republican or give money to Republicans, by all means, do it now. Because all of the GOP patronage and pay-for-play operation that we've seen up till this point was probably just a prelude to what's coming," Josh Marshall wrote September 5, 2005, for his Talking Points Memo.

But then Marshall discovered that, on September 1, 2005, the Washington Post's Dan Balz had already spoken to Allbaugh "by telephone from Louisiana, where he is helping coordinate the private-sector response to the storm, [and] said Katrina has left behind a situation that evokes the destruction of Sept. 11, 2001, though without as much loss of life. 'It is unreal,' he said. 'When you see the pictures on television, it really cannot do the devastation and the damage justice.'"

"Now," Marshall said September 6, 2005, "if you figure that an article that appeared on the September 1st was probably reported out on Wednesdy August 31st, perhaps this is one of those cases that show how the public sector just can't match the pace of the private sector, seeing as Allbaugh seems to have beaten most of the folks from FEMA, the agency he ran before handing it off to Michael Brown, into the disaster area."

Marshall confessed that he had been "so focused on Allbaugh's Iraq operation, that [he] had lost track of what he was up to on the domestic rain-making activities: "First, there's Blackwell Fairbanks, LLC, the outfit he set up with Andrew D. Lundquist, the guy who ran Vice President [Dick] Cheney's energy policy task force. And then of course there's Allbaugh's main shop, The Allbaugh Company, the one Haley Barbour helped him set up along with New Bridge Strategies, the Iraq venture."

Marshall figured that Allbaugh was "in Louisiana wearing the Allbaugh Company hat, seeing as how a few months back he signed on as a lobbyist for Halliburton subsidiary KBR to 'educate the congressional and executive branch on defense, disaster relief and homeland security issues.'"

Allbaugh and Halliburton's KBR

"Joe Allbaugh, the Oklahoman known for his flat-top haircut and loyalty to President Bush, has a new client: Halliburton, the Houston-based company once led by" Vice President Dick Cheney. [7]

Allbaugh, a "close adviser" to George W. Bush "during his Texas days, registered [in March 2005] to lobby on behalf of Kellogg Brown and Root (KBR), Halliburton's construction and engineering subsidiary." Allbaugh is CEO of The Allbaugh Company, LLC, a "Washington, D.C.-based corporate strategy and counsel firm." His wife, Diane Allbaugh, is a partner at The Allbaugh Company and is "also listed on the registration, which was filed last week with the Senate Office of Public Records." [8] [9]

A Halliburton spokesperson said that Allbaugh "had not been commissioned to do any direct lobbying" but had been hired by KBR "as a consultant to provide strategy support for our Government and Infrastructure business." [10]

However, Allbaugh's "lobbying disclosure form says the company will 'educate the congressional and executive branch on defense, disaster relief and homeland security issues.'" [11]

Senior Advisor to Rudy Giuliani

  • The Rudy Giuliani Presidential Committee announced on October 30th 2007 that Joe Allbaugh will serve as Senior Advisor to the Rudy Giuliani campaign. Allbaugh will advise the campaign on general strategy and homeland security.


Allbaugh has a nephew, Jeremy Allbaugh, who served in the United States Marine Corps, and was killed on July 5th, 2007 while in Iraq.[24]

SourceWatch Resources


  1. David Stout, "Agency Chief Facing Test Of a Lifetime On Response," New York Times, September 14, 2001, p. A19.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Dan Balz, "The Governor's 'Iron Triangle' Points the Way to Washington," Washington Post, July 23, 1999, p. C1.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Edwin Chen, "Bush Camp Attempts to Head Off Skirmish Over Nominee Ashcroft", Los Angeles Times, January 5, 2001, p. A16.
  4. Adam Nagourney and Frank Bruni, "Gatekeeper to Running Mate: Cheney's Road to Candidacy," New York Times, July 28, 2000, p. A1.
  5. Edward Walsh, "Did Cheney Pass His Own Test?; Questions on Voting, Stock Options Topped His Screening List," Washington Post, September 24, 2000, p. A13.
  6. Dana Milbank, "Armies of Strategists Set Up Bases in Florida," Washington Post, November 13, 2000, p. A14.
  7. "Allbaugh Confirmed as Chief of FEMA," Los Angeles Times, February 16, 2001, p. A15.
  8. "The Emergency Freight Train," Washington Post, April 25, 2001, p. A30.
  9. Eric Slater, "FEMA Director Tours Davenport Devastation," Los Angeles Times, April 27, 2001, p. A31.
  10. Philip Shenon, "White House Battles Cuts In Spending For Disasters," New York Times, June 21, 2002, p. A22.
  11. James Gerstenzang, "Bush Puts FEMA in Charge of Domestic Terrorism Response". Los Angeles Times, May 9, 2001, p. A21.
  12. Michael Janofsky, "Attacks Halt Meeting," New York Times, September 12, 2001, p. A5.
  13. Vicki Kemper, "FEMA Chief, a Key Bush Advisor, Announces Resignation," Los Angeles Times, December 17, 2002, p. A32.
  14. Ken Silverstein, "Top FEMA Jobs: No Experience Required". Los Angeles Times, September 9, 2005, p. A10.
  15. Nir Rosen, "Riding Shotgun with Our Shadow Army in Iraq," Mother Jones, May 1, 2007.
  16. Thomas B. Edsall and Juliet Eilperin, "Lobbyists Set Sights On Money-Making Opportunities in Iraq," Washington Post, October 2, 2003, p. A21.
  17. Gail Russell Chaddock, "Targeting no-bid deals," Christian Science Monitor, October 10, 2003, p. 2.
  18. Sarasohn, Judy. "All-Republican Givers and Receivers". The Washington Post, March 11, 2004, p. A25.
  19. Judy Sarasohn, "Lobbying Firm Adds Another GOP Link," The Washington Post, March 14, 2002, p. A25.
  20. Thomas B. Edsall, "Former FEMA Chief Is at Work on Gulf Coast," The Washington Post, September 8, 2005, p. A27.
  21. Jochi J. Dreazen, "Connections Are Key to Contracts For Katrina Aid," Wall Street Journal, September 30, 2005, p. B1.
  22. Yochi J. Dreazen, "In Katrina's Wake: U.S. Names 5 Firms to Build Housing". Wall Street Journal, September 9, 2005, p. A10.
  23. "Firms with Bush-Cheney ties clinching Katrina deals," USA Today, September 10, 2005.

External links

Wikipedia also has an article on Joe M. Allbaugh. This article may use content from the Wikipedia article under the terms of the GFDL.