Person

Patrick Gaspard

Patrick Gaspard, Director of the Office of Political Affairs, at the White House (link)
Nationality:

American

Occupation:

President, Open Society Foundations

Former U.S. Ambassador to South Africa, Obama Administration

Former White House Director of Political Affairs, Obama Administration

Patrick Gaspard is president of the Open Society Foundations (OSF), the principal philanthropic entities of left-of-center billionaire George Soros. Prior to joining OSF, Gaspard served as United States Ambassador to South Africa and White House Director of Political Affairs under President Barack Obama and in a number of positions with other Democratic politicians and the 1199SEIU labor union.

Background

Gaspard was born in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, to Haitian parents. He moved to the United States when he was three years old. He graduated from Brooklyn Technical High School. [1] He is currently married and has two children.

Career

After working on Jesse Jackson’s failed presidential campaign in 1988, Gaspard entered New York City politics.. He rose to prominence after he worked on David Dinkins’ successful campaign for New York City mayor in 1989. He spent the next decade in several prominent city positions, first as special assistant in the Office of the Manhattan Borough President, then special assistant in the Office of Mayor Dinkins, as well as chief of staff to the New York City Council from 1998-1999. [2] The New York Times characterized Gaspard as a City power player even after he joined the Obama administration, placing him in the “inner ring” of advisors in Mayor Bill de Blasio’s “kitchen cabinet” in 2013. [3]

For nine years, Gaspard worked as the executive vice president for politics and legislation for the 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East labor union. [4] 1199SEIU, a local affiliated with the controversial Service Employees International Union, is the largest healthcare union in the country, with nearly 400,000 members. He started working for the union at the direction of a former boss, former New York City councilor Margarita Lopez (D-Manhattan), who wanted him to organize a protest in response to the police shooting death of Amadou Diallo, an unarmed Guinean immigrant. [5]

Gaspard later served as the national political director of Senator Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign. He said at the time, “This election offers a clear choice between John McCain’s agenda for continuing the failed policies of George W. Bush and Barack Obama’s vision for change.” When he was asked what his goals were for the campaign, Gaspard said “That’s the easiest question I’ve ever been asked – I want to begin to repair the imbalance in the Supreme Court by electing a Democratic president.” [6]

During President Obama’s first term, Gaspard served as White House Director of Political Affairs from 2009-2011. “He’s a low key, behind-the-scenes, no-fingerprints kind of guy,” said Representative Gregory Meeks (D-NY) about Gaspard. “I need something, I call Patrick. And if he calls, it’s a big deal. He’s close to the president.” [7]

Gaspard worked to reelect President Obama as executive director of the Democratic National Committee from 2011-2013. [8]

During Obama’s second term, the President appointed Gaspard U.S. Ambassador to South Africa. His main priorities were the development of environmentalist-approved energy and ending wildlife trafficking between South Africa and the United States. After he was replaced at the end of President Obama’s term, Gaspard commented that South Africa has a “more inclusive” constitution than the United States. [9]

Gaspard has worked for the Open Society Foundations, a nonprofit network funded by George Soros, as the group’s president of since January 9, 2017. [10]

Controversy

Unreported Payment

During President Obama’s first term, while Gaspard was working as White House political director, it was revealed that he had failed to disclose a nearly $40,000 payout from his former union, 1199SEIU. This payment was supposedly for “carried over leave and vacation.” The omission was first discovered by Representative Darrell Issa (R-California), then serving as the top Republican lawmaker on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. [11]

ACORN Ties

Gaspard’s connections to the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) became part of a wider political controversy involving the Obama administration’s many associations with the far-left advocacy group, which was accused of voter fraud. In 1995, Gaspard was working as an organizer for the New Jersey branch of the New Party, a far-left political group connected to ACORN, while then-state legislative candidate Barack Obama sought the Party’s endorsement for office in Illinois. [12]

During his time with 1199SEIU, Gaspard interacted closely with ACORN’s New York chapter, led by controversial activist Bertha Lewis before she became CEO and chief organizer of the national ACORN organization. The New York Times credited Gaspard and Lewis with forming the Working Families Party, a left-wing political party that uses New York’s multiple-ballot-line voting system to push state Democrats toward the interests of SEIU and other far-left groups like ACORN and its successors. Gaspard also sat on the board of the Working Families Party alongside Lewis. [13]

Former ACORN chief organizer Wade Rathke characterized Gaspard in a blog post as “ACORN New York’s political director,” an assertion he later retracted as erroneous. [14] While Rathke’s initial characterization was incorrect, SEIU’s Gaspard and ACORN’s Lewis worked closely on political matters in New York through the Working Families Party. [15]

References

  1. Horowitz, Jason. “Patrick Gaspard Writes Poems, Collects Comics, Kills for Obama.” Observer. June 23, 2009. Accessed April 24, 2019. https://observer.com/2009/06/patrick-gaspard-writes-poems-collects-comics-kills-for-obama/. ^
  2. Patrick Gaspard.” The Washington Post. February 14, 2013. Accessed April 24, 2019. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/patrick-gaspard/gIQADoIO9O_print.html?noredirect=on. ^
  3. Chen, David W., Larry Buchanan, and Ford Fessenden. “Bill De Blasio’s Circle of Power.” The New York Times. November 08, 2013. Accessed April 24, 2019. https://archive.nytimes.com/www.nytimes.com/interactive/2013/11/08/nyregion/bill-de-blasios-circle-of-power.html. ^
  4. Sherman, Jake. “W.H. Aide Failed to Disclose Payout.” POLITICO. June 28, 2010. Accessed April 24, 2019. https://www.politico.com/story/2010/06/wh-aide-failed-to-disclose-payout-039110. ^
  5. Horowitz, Jason. “Patrick Gaspard Writes Poems, Collects Comics, Kills for Obama.” Observer. June 23, 2009. Accessed April 24, 2019. https://observer.com/2009/06/patrick-gaspard-writes-poems-collects-comics-kills-for-obama/. ^
  6. “Patrick Gaspard.” The Washington Post. February 14, 2013. Accessed April 24, 2019. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/patrick-gaspard/gIQADoIO9O_print.html?noredirect=on. ^
  7. Horowitz, Jason. “Patrick Gaspard Writes Poems, Collects Comics, Kills for Obama.” Observer. June 23, 2009. Accessed April 24, 2019. https://observer.com/2009/06/patrick-gaspard-writes-poems-collects-comics-kills-for-obama/. ^
  8. “President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts.” Accessed April 24, 2019. https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2013/06/27/president-obama-announces-more-key-administration-posts.

    Patrick Gaspard.” The Washington Post. February 14, 2013. Accessed April 24, 2019. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/patrick-gaspard/gIQADoIO9O_print.html?noredirect=on. ^

  9. “Patrick Gaspard, U.S. Ambassador to South Africa, Appointed Vice President of the Open Society Foundations.” Open Society Foundations. December 02, 2016. Accessed April 24, 2019. https://www.opensocietyfoundations.org/press-releases/patrick-gaspard-us-ambassador-south-africa-appointed-vice-president-open-society.

    “South Africa To Meet US Embassy Over Trump “Sh*thole” Comments.” The Huffington Post. January 15, 2018. Accessed April 24, 2019. https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2018/01/14/south-africa-to-meet-us-embassy-over-trump-sh-thole-comments_a_23333336/?ncid=other_saredirect_m2afnz7mbfm. ^

  10. “Patrick Gaspard, U.S. Ambassador to South Africa, Appointed Vice President of the Open Society Foundations.” Open Society Foundations. December 02, 2016. Accessed April 24, 2019. https://www.opensocietyfoundations.org/press-releases/patrick-gaspard-us-ambassador-south-africa-appointed-vice-president-open-society. ^
  11. Sherman, Jake. “W.H. Aide Failed to Disclose Payout.” POLITICO. June 28, 2010. Accessed April 24, 2019. https://www.politico.com/story/2010/06/wh-aide-failed-to-disclose-payout-039110. ^
  12. Kurtz, Stanley. “Patrick Gaspard, ACORN, and Obama.” National Review. September 28, 2009. Accessed April 24, 2019. https://www.nationalreview.com/corner/patrick-gaspard-acorn-and-obama-stanley-kurtz/. ^
  13. Rutenberg, Jim. “Acorn’s Woes Strain Its Ties to Democrats.” The New York Times. October 15, 2009. Accessed April 24, 2019. https://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/16/us/politics/16acorn.html. ^
  14. Farley, Robert. “Beck and Others Repeat Claim That White House Political Director Patrick Gaspard Was Once the Political Director for Bertha Lewis, Chief Organizer of ACORN.” Politifact. September 30, 2009. Accessed April 24, 2019. https://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2009/sep/30/steve-doocy/beck-and-others-repeat-claim-white-house-political/. ^
  15. Lewis, Bertha, and Patrick Gaspard. “Run WFP Run! Run WFP Run!” The Nation. June 14, 2001. Accessed April 24, 2019. https://www.thenation.com/article/run-wfp-run-run-wfp-run/. ^

Connected Organizations

  1. 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East (UHE) (Labor Union)
    Former Executive Vice President
  2. America Coming Together (ACT) (Political Party/527)
    Former National Field Director
  3. U.S. Department of State (Government Agency)
    Former U.S. Ambassador to South Africa (2013-2016)
  4. Obama 2008 Presidential Campaign (Political Party/527)
    National Political Director
  5. Obama Administration (Government Agency)
    Former U.S. Ambassador to South Africa (2013-2016)
  6. Open Society Foundations (OSF) (Non-profit)
    President
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