Joe M. Allbaugh (born July 27,
1952) is an American political figure in the
Photo by Greg Schaler/ FEMA News Photo
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
(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
Early political involvement
Allbaugh began working on political campaigns at the age of 12 as a
volunteer for Barry Goldwater
presidential campaign. He went on to earn a degree in political science from Oklahoma State
University where he became a member of Beta Theta Pi (ΒΘΠ) Fraternity.
first paid political job was working for Oklahoma Senator Henry Bellmon
in 1974. After working on the
field staff of the Reagan-Bush campaign in 1984, Allbaugh returned
to Oklahoma to help Bellmon win a race for governor in 1986. He
later served as a deputy secretary of transportation under
Bellmon's successor, David
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
, 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
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
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. 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.
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. After the
legal maneuverings played out with Bush prevailing, he named
Allbaugh as his nominee to head the Federal Emergency Management
on January 4, 2001.
Allbaugh at FEMA
Allbaugh was confirmed as Director of FEMA in February 2001 by the
Senate in a unanimous vote. 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
flooding. 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
administration also proposed cuts to FEMA's budget and the National Flood Insurance
. After Tropical Storm
hit Texas in June, however, Allbaugh said the budget
cuts would affect the agency's ability to respond to future
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. This left the agency as one of the
most visible responders in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks
time of the attacks, Allbaugh was attending a conference in
Montana, on the subject of emergency response.
September 11 attacks eventually led to a cabinet reorganization
placing FEMA in the newly created Department of Homeland Security, Allbaugh elected to leave the agency.
made his resignation effective March 1, 2003, the date the
reorganization was to take effect. His successor 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.
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. He became one of several
partners involved in New Bridge Strategies, 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", and Diligence-Iraq, a security company providing protection
for companies doing business there. Diligence, a company founded by
former CIA and FBI chief William Webster and 40 percent owned by a
wealthy Kuwaiti politician. Allbaugh is the co-chair of
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. The Allbaugh Company is commonly described as a
lobbying and consulting firm, although Joe Allbaugh himself says he
only consults with clients on presenting their services to
government agencies, and does not lobby the government directly for
contracts. The Wall Street
compared his work to that of his predecessor at
FEMA, James Lee Witt
, who also went
into the private sector and used the same distinction in working
for clients. Major Allbaugh Company clients include The Shaw Group
and Halliburton subsidiary
Though no longer affiliated with FEMA, 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.
On July 12, 2006, Emergent Biosolutions, maker of the Anthrax
Vaccine under its former name BioPort
announced that Allbaugh joined the Board of Directors. During the
years before Allbaugh's appointment, BioPort had a troubled
relationship with the US Food and Drug Administration
In September 2006, Allbaugh was elected president of Ecosphere
Senior Advisor to Rudy Giuliani
The Rudy Giuliani
Committee announced on October 30, 2007 that Joe Allbaugh would
serve as Senior Advisor to the Rudy Giuliani
. Allbaugh was to advise the campaign on
general strategy and homeland security. Allbaugh stated that "Rudy
Giuliani is the only candidate who will keep America on offense in
the Terrorists’ War on Us". According to Giuliani, he and Albaugh
"worked closely together in the aftermath of 9/11 to ensure that
everything possible was being done to help victims and their
families. He has significant experience in emergency management and
I will look to him for sound advice and expertise."
Allbaugh, in an interview with Texas
editor Evan Smith
the second season of Texas
, said, "The work that goes into good
journalism is hard, and yet so many people take the easy path out,
citing other articles instead of doing their own research, or
Wikipedia, which is 99 percent wrong. I mean, my bio on Wikipedia
Allbaugh has two nephews, Jeremy Allbaugh, who served in the
United States Marine
, and was killed on July 5th, 2007 while in Iraq. Jason
Allbaugh who is currently serving as a commissioned officer in the
Lobbying in the United
- Stout, David. "Agency Chief Facing Test Of a Lifetime On
Response". New York Times, September 14, 2001, p.
- Balz, Dan. " The Governor's 'Iron Triangle' Points the Way to
Washington". Washington Post, July 23, 1999, p.
- Chen, Edwin. "Bush Camp Attempts to Head Off Skirmish Over
Nominee Ashcroft". Los Angeles Times, January 5, 2001, p.
- Nagourney, Adam and Frank Bruni. "Gatekeeper to Running Mate:
Cheney's Road to Candidacy". New York Times, July 28,
2000, p. A1.
- Walsh, Edward. "Did Cheney Pass His Own Test?; Questions on
Voting, Stock Options Topped His Screening List". Washington
Post, September 24, 2000, p. A13.
- Milbank, Dana. "Armies of Strategists Set Up Bases in Florida".
Washington Post, November 13, 2000, p. A14.
- "Allbaugh Confirmed as Chief of FEMA". Los Angeles
Times, February 16, 2001, p. A15.
- "The Emergency Freight Train". Washington Post, April
25, 2001, p. A30.
- Slater, Eric. "FEMA Director Tours Davenport Devastation".
Los Angeles Times, April 27, 2001, p. A31.
- Shenon, Philip. "White House Battles Cuts In Spending For
Disasters". New York Times, June 21, 2002, p. A22.
- Gerstenzang, James. "Bush Puts FEMA in Charge of Domestic
Terrorism Response". Los Angeles Times, May 9, 2001, p.
- Janofsky, Michael. "Attacks Halt Meeting". New York
Times, September 12, 2001, p. A5.
- Kemper, Vicki. "FEMA Chief, a Key Bush Advisor, Announces
Resignation". Los Angeles Times, December 17, 2002, p.
- Silverstein, Ken. "Top FEMA Jobs: No Experience Required".
Los Angeles Times, September 9, 2005, p. A10.
- Edsall, Thomas B. and Juliet Eilperin. " Lobbyists Set Sights On Money-Making Opportunities in
Iraq". Washington Post, October 2, 2003, p. A21.
- Chaddock, Gail Russell. "Targeting no-bid deals". Christian
Science Monitor, October 10, 2003, p. 2.
- Sarasohn, Judy. "All-Republican Givers and Receivers". The
Washington Post, March 11, 2004, p. A25.
- Sarasohn, Judy. "Lobbying Firm Adds Another GOP Link". The
Washington Post, March 14, 2002, p. A25.
- Edsall, Thomas B. "Former FEMA Chief Is at Work on Gulf Coast".
The Washington Post, September 8, 2005, p. A27.
- Dreazen, Yochi J. "Connections Are Key to Contracts For Katrina
Aid". The Wall Street Journal, September 30, 2005, p.
- Dreazen, Yochi J. "In Katrina's Wake: U.S. Names 5 Firms to
Build Housing". The Wall Street Journal, September 9,
2005, p. A10.
- " Firms with Bush-Cheney ties clinching Katrina
deals". USA Today, September 10, 2005.
- " Press release: Joe Allbaugh to Serve as Senior Advisor to
Rudy Giuliani". The Rudy Giuliani Presidential
Committee, October 30, 2007.
- " Joe Allbaugh Defends You-Know-Who". Texas
Monthly, August 1, 2006.
- Honor the fallen: Marine Cpl. Jeremy D.