Robert Keith Gray

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Family and early life



  • US Naval Reserve: Commander


  • Hastings College: Professor of business administration

Lobbying firms


Sexual blackmail

Gulf War lobbying

[Testimony of Nayirah al-Ṣabaḥ, the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador, about Iraqi soldiers taking babies out of incubators, which was part of the Citizens for a Free Kuwait public relations campaign run by Hill & Knowlton]

BCCI scandal

Main article: Bank of Credit and Commerce International

Political connections

Republican Party

Intelligence community

Corporate connections

Lobbying clients

See also


External links

  • New York Times, "Darth Vader of the Lobbyists", 1992/08/23: "To Susan B. Trento, who was formerly the chief staff aide to Representative Harold Hollenbeck of New Jersey, the lobbying industry's Darth Vader is Robert Keith Gray of the public relations firm of Hill & Knowlton. In "The Power House," she tells how Mr. Gray, after unabashedly peddling access for decades, reached the apex of his influence when his friend Ronald Reagan moved into the White House. Throughout the 1980's and into the 90's, as either the head of his own firm or as an executive with Hill & Knowlton, Mr. Gray indiscriminately took on almost any cause, as long as his hefty retainers were paid.

    His rogues' gallery of clients has included the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, the teamster president Jackie Presser, the disgraced publisher Robert Maxwell, the scandal-ridden Bank of Credit and Commerce International (B.C.C.I.), Haiti under the regime of Jean-Claude (Baby Doc) Duvalier and China immediately following the massacre at Tiananmen Square.

    An avowed conservative who was an inaugural co-chairman in 1980-81, organizing the glitzy Republican parties that ushered in the Reagan decade, Mr. Gray represented the Marxist Government of Angola. He also worked for Playboy and Penthouse when they were facing a Reagan Administration antipornography crusade led by his friend Attorney General Edwin Meese 3d. Mr. Meese ultimately turned his back on the crusade, Ms. Trento says, because of Mr. Gray's persuasive powers. (She notes elsewhere that Mr. Gray once helped secure a job for Mr. Meese's wife, Ursula.)

    For a fee of more than $10 million, Mr. Gray's office at Hill & Knowlton waged a lobbying campaign for Kuwait in an effort to manipulate public opinion in favor of an American invasion. The campaign was effective, although eventually Hill & Knowlton was severely embarrassed: the firm had arranged for a young woman to present emotional testimony before a Congressional panel about Iraqis killing Kuwaiti babies by removing them from incubators. Later, it was revealed that she was really the daughter of the Kuwaiti Ambassador to the United States."
  • Lincoln Journal Star, "Famous footnote overshadows Nebraska native's biography", 1992/08/30: "As one of the most powerful players in the illusionary art of public relations, former Nebraskan Robert Keith Gray helped launch the "Reagan revolution" and helped unleash Desert Storm. But Gray, 72, who was replaced Friday as the head of the international firm of Hill and Knowlton, says his chief accomplishment in life has been to convince President Reagan and Robert Maxwell, the late British publishing magnate, to inaugurate the Gray Center for Communication Arts in his hometown of Hastings. So he says in "The Power House Robert Keith Gray and the Selling of Access and Influence in Washington," a controversial new biography by Susan B. Trento. [...] Gray will retain a ceremonial title of chairman of the board at Hill and Knowlton but will not have an office or any day-to-day functions at the firm. [...] Gray, [...], is a former business professor at Hastings College who came to Washington in 1955 to work for the Eisenhower administration. [...] Gray soon became one of the most eligible bachelors in Washington, according to Cosmopolitan magazine in 1957. He used that status to charm the wives of the rich and famous into granting him access to their husbands, turning that access into a glitzy, controversial career in lobbying and public relations that earned him millions of dollars, fame and controversy. [...] He convinced Hill and Knowlton, a New York public relations firm, to name him head of a lobbying-public relations division in Washington."
  • Washington Monthly, "Lord of the lies; how Hill and Knowlton's Robert Gray pulls Washington's strings" by Susan B. Trento, 1992/09/01: "In 1961, the year he parlayed his White House experience into a power position in public relations, Gray went as respectable as Washington could get. As vice president and director of the D.C. office of Hill and Knowlton, Gray had signed on to perhaps the most conservative firm in the field. [...] More important than the tableaux was the guest list. [...] "He plays his social life smooth," former Nebraska Senator Carl Curtis says. "We've been to a lot of his parties and it would be filled with women old enough to be his grandmother. Wealthy [women]--he was the favorite escort of the oldest women." But they weren't just old. They were connected. [...] Before long, Gray provided services to accounts that included the American Petroleum Institute, Procter and Gamble, and the National Association of Broadcasters. Still, Washington power is a volatile thing, and Gray made his smartest move by looking ahead. By 1967 he'd joined a 50-member committee to elect his friend, Richard Nixon, to the White House. And when Nixon won, Gray became the big gun of Republican lobbyists. How did he use his power? Consider one client who went away happy, El Paso Natural Gas. [...] A few more legislative coups like that one, and Bob Gray was king of the Hill. In 1980, he left Hill and Knowlton and set out on his own. [...] Gray and Company "was a company without a moral rudder," said Sheila Tate, a former Hill and Knowlton employee and later Nancy Reagan's press secretary, discussing the firm's controversial clientele; the only criterion Gray seemed to have in selecting his clients was the size of their wallets. Most of Gray's international accounts were rightwing governments tied closely to the intelligence community or businessmen with tlie same connections. Gray represented Adnan Khashoggi, the "selfemployed" Saudi Arabian businessman who was involved with Iran-contra. [...] Domestically, one of the more notorious reputations Gray tried to sanitize was that of American fugitive Marc Rich. [...] The urge to make the big bucks, combined with fiascos like Morocco's, impelled Gray to sell his firm in 1986. In true Gray fashion, he cut a sweetheart deal: In June 1986, JWT Group, Inc. agreed to buy Gray and Company and make it a part of its subsidiary, Hill and Knowlton. The merger agreement created an entirely new division of Hill and Knowlton called Hill and Knowlton Public Affairs Worldwide and put Gray in charge as its chairman. Hill and Knowlton returned Gray to its board of directors and made him chairman of its policy committee. [...] Gray signed on the Church of Scientology, and later Time magazine ran a highly critical cover story titled, "Scientology--The Cult of Greed.""
  • New York Times, "Robert Gray, a Powerhouse in Washington, Dies at 92", 2014/04/25: "Mr. Gray was an enabler and a sophisticated fixer. He worked for major corporations and socialites. He could get James A. Baker III on the phone, as well as Ursula Meese, the wife of Edwin. He could arrange a meeting with Senator Strom Thurmond and arrange a dinner dance in honor of Nancy Reagan’s press secretary. He was successful in part because he was flexible. He represented an ecumenical and sometimes controversial list of clients that included the American Petroleum Institute, the Republican National Committee, the government of Kuwait and the Rev. Sun Myung Moon. [...] Parties — he was a regular host as well as guest — were where he made the connections that were his currency. [...] In the 1950s he was appointments secretary under President Dwight D. Eisenhower, then secretary of the cabinet. [...] While building his stable of clients, he took time off during his years at Hill & Knowlton to serve as a top adviser on Richard M. Nixon’s 1968 presidential campaign and, in 1980, to serve as communications director of Mr. Reagan’s campaign. In 1981, he was co-chairman of Mr. Reagan’s inaugural committee. The afternoon Mr. Reagan was sworn in, Mr. Gray resigned from Hill & Knowlton to start his own firm, Gray & Company. [...] He taught business courses at Hastings College in his hometown in the early 1950s before going to work in the government, first as a special assistant to the secretary of the Navy."
  • TODO: look into Frank Mankiewicz, executive vice president of Gray & Co. who was a major Democratic powerbroker: press secretary for Robert F. Kennedy in 1968, campaign director of the doomed George McGovern campaign in 1972, and part-time adviser to the 1984 campaign of Gary Hart (himself close to prominent Denver lawyer Hal Haddon and a leading member of the Hart-Rudman Commission)

Nebraska connections

  • UPI, "Nebraskalander honor is given Robert K. Gray", 1985/02/02: "Former Hastings resident Robert Keith Gray will receive the 1985 Distinguished Nebraskalander Award from Gov. Bob Kerrey, NEBRASKAland Foundation Inc. President Jack Pollock of Ogallala announced Saturday. Gray, who runs a public relations firm in Washington, D.C., and is the fourth recipient of the award, will be honored during a formal banquet March 30 in the Capitol rotunda, Pollock said. Previous recipients were University of Nebraska head football coach Tom Osborne, Col. Barney Oldfield of Litton Industries and V.J. Skutt of Mutual of Omaha. Gray, his brothers and his sisters recently granted $1 million to Hastings College for a communications center in honor of their parents, C.J. and Marie Gray."

Sex ring allegations

  • Rigorous Intuition thread about Gray's connection with a sexual blackmail ring catering to DC politicians - cites p.176 of The Power House by Susan Trento
  • VISUP, "Goodfellas Part IV: Lavender Mafia Edition", 2018/03/25: "Gray was accused of being in league with a D.C.-based male prostitution ring being run by a former Justice Department official then working as a consultant to Congress and a photographer who ran a local photoshop. Nothing ultimately came of these allegations, though certainly the investigation was not helped by the fact that several of the private detectives being used by Congress were also working for Gray at the same time. [...] As to Gray's relationship with Roy Cohn, this is also rather ambiguous. [...] It was only after I picked up a copy of The Power House, Susan Trento's excellent biography of Gray, that I determined that the two men did know one another and had some type of relationship, though it is unknown as to how close they actually were. Certainly it is tempting to speculate that their relationship was much closer than what is publicly known. Both men first rose to prominence in D.C. during the 1950s, though Cohn's time there was winding down by 1956 when Gray first made the scene. Both men traveled in the same circles and appear to have been especially close to [William Casey.] [...] Tom Fortuin, Gray's attorney during the prostitution ring allegations, hailed from New York City and was apparently a good friend of Cohn's. [...] Casey was also very close to Gray and had been a member of the George Town Club since at least the early 1970s, when his relationship with Gray appears to have begun."

BCCI involvement

  • Newsweek, "THE BCCI-CIA CONNECTION: JUST HOW FAR DID IT GO?", 1992/12/06: "After the BCCI group gained control of First American, two men with links to U.S. intelligence joined the board of its Washington, D.C., bark. The lobbyist Robert Gray of Hill and Knowlton often boasted of his close relationship with the CIA's William Casey, Gray used to say that before taking on a foreign client, he would clear it with Casey. [second lobbyist mentioned is Karl G. Harr Jr.]"