Craig Shirley

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Craig Shirley is the president and CEO of Shirley & Banister Public Affairs. Shirley, a long-time Republican PR man, counts as clients the Heritage Foundation, McDonnell Douglas, the Manhattan Institute, National Rifle Association, the National Taxpayers Union, Nuclear Energy Institute, Washington Times Foundation.[1][2]

According to Joe Conason, some of Shirley's more notable former clients were "Paula Jones, the Clinton sexual harassment accuser who later modeled for Penthouse; and Gary Aldrich, the retired White House FBI agent whose fabricated tales of Clinton motel trysts and pornographic West Wing Christmas trees made his book a bestseller."[3]

Shirley is a board member of the American Conservative Union, which calls itself "the nation's oldest conservative lobbying organization."


In a profile of Shirley's Republican achievements PR Week writes, "As a communications consultant for the Republican National Committee in 1980, Shirley was sent around the country to media-train press secretaries in House and Senate races. Two of his trainees were now-departed Bush spokespeople Torie Clarke and Ari Fleischer."[4]

Shirley created the front group Disabled Americans for Death Tax Repeal, which ran full-page advertisements in the Wall Street Journal and Washington Times, urging Congress to abolish the federal estate tax.[5]

In 2003, Shirley co-founded Americans for a Better Country (ABC) with GOP strategist and former Ronald Reagan White House political director Frank J. Donatelli.[6]

In November 2005, PR Week noted that Shirley "handled outreach for Americans for Better Justice, a conservative group created to force Miers' withdrawal."[7]

Keene, Shirley & Associates

According to the American Conservative Union Web site, Shirley and David A. Keene "formed Keene, Shirley & Associates, Inc. in early 1987 where Mr. Shirley served as Chief Executive Officer. This five year association saw major accomplishments for Mr. Shirley. In that time he tripled the billings for Keene, Shirley & Associates, ran a major advertising and public relations campaign supporting President Bush and Operation Desert Storm, successfully represented the Embassy of the State of Kuwait and was placed in charge of public relations for an international conference on democracy hosted in Prague by President Vaclav Havel of then Czechoslovakia."[8]

Political campaigns

U.S. presidential election 2004

In March 2004, Salon writer Joe Conason claimed, "As strategists in both parties gird for what all expect to be an unusually nasty presidential election, the stage has been set by the revival of a conservative crew that might be called 'the usual suspects' -- including consultants Floyd Brown, Craig Shirley and David Bossie." Conason concluded, "They will do whatever the official Bush campaign can't or won't -- and they have had more than 15 years of target practice."[3]

Conason cannot have been disappointed by subsequent events. Shirley's company did public relations work for the anti-Kerry attack movie Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal, and was involved in attempts to squash media coverage of Kitty Kelley's book The Family: The Real Story Of the Bush Dynasty.[9]

U.S. presidential election 2008

In August 2007, Shirley told Cybercast News Service that he "shares" Newt Gingrich's "disdain for the enormous fundraising and bureaucratic operations prevalent in contemporary presidential campaigns.

"'The permanent power structure in Washington is the national media, the K Street lobbyists and the campaign consultants,' said Shirley. 'Politicians are merely vehicles in which to have fun and profit.

"'The candidates come and go. The congressmen come and go. The senators come and go. But the media and K Street, and the campaign consultants are here forever. They take over. They're like cockroaches that come out in the middle of the night, and they take over.'

"Shirley emphasized that the means to break the hold of Washington's 'consultant-ocracy' rests with the American public. 'The consultants are not the gate-keepers to the nomination,' he said. 'The voters are.'"[10]

Citizens for the Republic


The Willie Horton ad

In 1988, according to Joe Conason, Craig Shirley was involved in the production of the infamous race-baiting Willie Horton advertisement, which helped finish off Michael Dukakis's campaign.[3]

Conason says that "The Horton ad appeared not as part of the Bush-Quayle campaign, whose strategists shied away from such obvious racism, but under the auspices of a shadowy organization called 'Americans for Bush'. According to testimony filed with the Federal Election Commission, which investigated the financing and planning of the Horton ad in 1990, the ad's actual creators included [Floyd] Brown and Shirley... (FEC commissioners and investigators strongly suspected unlawful collusion between Bush-Quayle and Americans for Bush, but Republican members of the commission quickly killed the probe.)"[3]

Pitches "bin Laden expert"

Following the release of his book on September 21, 2001, "as a public service", Craig Shirley & Associates was "the firm behind the many media appearances for Yossef Bodansky," the author of Bin Laden: The Man Who Declared War on America, "lin[ing] up spots for the author on 'Good Morning America,' 'Hardball with Chris Matthews,' 'The O'Reilly Factor,' '48 Hours,' 'Dateline NBC,' and CNN. ... CS&A promoted Bodansky on a pro bono basis because Shirley felt it was important that Americans know about the suspected mastermind behind the terrorist attacks."[11]

Jessica Lynch

In November 2003 O'Dwyer's PR Daily reported, "Shirley and Banister Public Affairs has been selected to promote Harper Collins' Because Each Life is Precious, the account by Iraqi lawyer Mohammed Odeh al-Rehaief of Pfc. Jessica Lynch's capture and rescue during the Iraq invasion."[12]

Craig Shirley threatens Public Citizen with public prosecution

According to Public Citizen's Stealth PACs website, "Grassfire failed to comply with Public Citizen's request to view its IRS application for exempt status within the statutorily required 30-day period. Because the organization did not return telephone calls, Public Citizen contacted Shirley & Banister in hopes the firm would help obtain the forms. The e-mail request made its way to Shirley, who copied Public Citizen in a reply to one of his staffers: 'Public Citizen is an ultra-leftist, anti-conservative, anti-Bush organization. If they bother you one more time, please advise me soonest and I will have the lawyers alert the FBI and the Virginia Attorney General's office to investigate [Public Citizen Senior Researcher Taylor] Lincoln and Public Citizen for any and all laws they may have broken and to prosecute both Mr. Lincoln and Public Citizen to the fullest extent of the law.'"[13]

In the event, however, supplied the relevant documents the next day.[13]

Published works

  • Reagan's Revolution. The Untold Story of the Campaign That Started It All, Nelson Current, 2004.[14]

Articles by Craig Shirley


For a longer list, see Shirley's website.

Contact information

Shirley & Banister Public Affairs
122 South Patrick Street
Alexandria, VA 22314
Telephone: 800 536-5920
Email: info AT


Related SourceWatch articles


  1. List of clients for SBPA as at February 11, 2004. Via
  2.; go to "About Us", then click on "Craig Shirley".
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Joe Conason, "The vast right-wing conspiracy is back in business. Those delightful people who brought you Paula Jones, Willie Horton and Whitewater are back, and this time they've got John Kerry in their sights," Salon, March 9, 2004.
  4. Douglas Quenqua, "Shirley helps right-wing ideals reach new heights," PR Week, October 6, 2003. Subscription required. This link is no longer active.
  5. Marta Russell, Craig Shirley Does the Disabled, PR Watch, Vol. 8, No. 2, Second Quarter 2001.
  6. Chris Cillizza and Brody Mullins, "GOP Allies Play Catch-Up on 527s," Roll Call (The Reform Institute), May 17, 2004.
  7. Mark Hand, White House expanding PR roles for Alito nomination," PR Week, November 3, 2005. (Sub req'd).
  8. Speakers: Craig Shirley, American Conservative Union.
  9. Shirley Banister Public Affairs: Notable work, SourceWatch article.
  10. Evan Moore, "Gingrich: US on Verge of 'Golden Age of Freedom'," Cybercast News Service, August 3, 2007.
  11. "CS&A Pitches bin Laden Expert," Jack O'Dwyer's Newsletter, October 17, 2001.
  12. This O'Dwyer's PR Daily link is no longer active.
  13. 13.0 13.1 Craig Shirley, The New Stealth PACs/Public Citizen, accessed July 1, 2007.

External articles

External resources