Americans for Freedom and Opportunity


Saturday night, at a gala event at the Richmond Marriott, former Governor of Virginia, Jim Gilmore did not announce his run for Presidency. 400 supporters, former Cabinet members and other members of his administration, roared with laughter when Gilmore told them that he had overheard someone saying, “So what do you think Jim and Boyd are up to?” Gilmore wouldn’t say what it was, but clearly, he and Boyd — his former Chief of Staff — are up to something with their new 501(c4) organization, Americans for Freedom and Opportunity.

Roxane and Jim Gilmore, Charmaine and Jack Yoest

Whatever it is — something “national” having to do with (you guessed it!) “freedom and opportunity” — they got off to a good start, raising $300,000 at the dinner. Jack served in the Department of Health and Human Resources with Claude Allen, so we had a good time seeing old friends.

In addition to not announcing for President, Gilmore also emphasized that the dinner was not a Jerry Kilgore for Governor campaign event. This became pretty funny as every speaker who hit the podium made a show of “not mentioning” Jerry for the benefit of any possible 501c4 attorneys among the legions of attorneys in the audience.

Wilbert Bryant and Jack
Jerry Kilgore and Charmaine


Before delivering the keynote address, Claude, who is now President Bush’s Domestic Policy Advisor, gave a beautiful tribute to his lovely wife, Jann. In his speech, he recalled an incident during his tenure as Secretary of Health and Human Resources under Gilmore that illustrates the interesting, and effective, partnership between these two men — a “pro-choice” politico and his pro-life appointee — that I’ve written about earlier.

Jann and Claude Allen

Careful readers of this blog will recall the hyperventilating over “hyperalimentation” — feeding food and water through a tube — during the legal battle over Terri Schiavo’s case. In 1998, the Commonwealth of Virginia — and Governor Gilmore — confronted nearly exactly the same situation as that posed by Terri Schiavo for Florida and Governor Jeb Bush.

Hugh Finn sustained severe brain injuries from a car accident, and was comatose for 3 and a half years. After moving him to a Virginia nursing home, his wife Michele requested the removal of his feeding tube, but his parents and his six brothers filed suit to stop her.

Working closely with Claude, the Governor supported continuing Finn’s feeding tube, and the case went all the way to the Virginia Supreme Court which ruled in favor of Mrs. Finn. Finn died eight days after the tube was removed.

Just as Ronald Reagan said: “Personnel is policy.”


For the record, listed attendees and/or supporters were: Paul Harris, William Howell, H. Morgan Griffith, Bill Bolling, Jay O’Brien, Bill Mims, Steve Newman, Rob Bell, Kirk Cox, Jeff Frederick, Tom Gear, Frank Hargrove, Tim Hugo, Bill Janis, Johnny Joannou, Terry Kilgore (twin brother to Jerry), Allen Louderback, Brad Marrs, Sam Nixon, John O’Bannon, Melanie Rapp, Jack Reid, Leo Wardrup, Lee Ware, Glenn Weatherholtz, John Welch, Paul and Laura Jost, Mrs. Robert D. Kilpatrick, R. Jerry Parker, Jr., James Parmelee, John W. Roberts, John & Sue Ellen Rocovich, L. Clifford Schroeder, Sr., Ginny Sniegon, Dendy Young, David E. Anderson, Linda Ault, Trixie Averill, Bob Bailie, H. Alan Bigley, Jr., Linwood M. Cobb III, Sid Dewerry, Mrs. LaVonne P. Ellis, Christian Ferry, Bill & Diane Flanagan, John O. & Angela Gregory, Max Hamel, Robert Hanrahan, Ronald L. Hedlund, Ruble & Sharon Hord, David & Taqui Johnson, Ron Kaufman, Jr., Habib Khan, Howard Lee, Joshua Lief, Federico Morales, Wayne Ozmore, Christopher Peace, John & Sue Ellen Rocovich, Louis Rossiter, L. Clifford Schroeder, Jr., Ginny Sniegon, Rebecca Stoeckel, Michael & Suzanne Wade, John Whitlock, Christopher & Jennifer Whyte, Don Upson, Will Bryant, Shirley Ybarra, Bryan Slater, Lee Goodman, Tom Bliley, and Steve Horton.


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