Former Douglas administration spokesman Jason Gibbs left his marketing job at Ski Vermont last Friday to start his own communications firm, as first reported by the Burlington Free Press.
Gibbs described his business, already established and registered with state authorities, as a “full-service strategic communications and project management business.” He said it would provide marketing, issue advocacy, advertising, “strategic partnerships,” and “virtually everything you can think of under the broad definition of strategic communications.”
Gibbs emphasized that he will not take on politicians, political campaigns or political parties as clients, preferring to focus instead on small nonprofit groups and potentially, larger corporate clients.
“I’ve had my experience in the political sphere,” said Gibbs. “It was exciting and engaging and informative, but now I’m really ready to do work in other areas.” He added, “I think that by defining a business as a political consulting business, you narrow very significantly the scope of opportunities for that business.”
Gibbs confirmed that one of his first major clients is Montpelier lobbying shop Capital Connections. He said he has a broad contract with Capital Connections to serve all its clients, which includes Campaign for Vermont, a policy advocacy group started by Bruce Lisman last year.
“Campaign for Vermont is an independent, nonpartisan, policy-driven organization,” Gibbs said. In his view, there are important distinctions between Campaign for Vermont and organizations with narrow political aims.
Gibbs said he doesn’t plan to work as a registered lobbyist in the future, but couldn’t categorically rule it out. Instead, he said, he will use his knowledge to help clients “navigate regulations and government processes.”
He wouldn’t say how much his contract with Capital Connections is worth, or elaborate on his work for other clients associated with the lobbying firm.
Other Capital Connections clients include the prescription drug industry group PhRMA, the National Federation of Independent Business, and the Vermont Health Advocacy Network, according to Secretary of State filings.
Gibbs also said that this wasn’t the start of a fresh career in politics or public life. Ideally many of his clients would be based outside Montpelier, and even outside Vermont, he said.
“To be perfectly candid, if I do my job effectively for many of my clients, very few people will know that I’m working for them,” said Gibbs.
Ski Vermont public affairs director Sarah Neith said Gibbs started work with Ski Vermont, an industry trade association, in March 2011. There he worked closely with its sponsor partners, who include Cabot, the Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing, and Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Neith said.
Gibbs ran unsuccessfully for secretary of state in 2010 on the Republican ticket.