Bradley Tusk, Paths in Public Service

On April 24, 2013 Bradley Tusk spoke to Hunter College undergraduate students about his previous experience as the Lt. Governor of Illinois and chief campaign strategist for the 2009 Bloomberg campaign. Jonathan Fanton opened the event with an introduction of Mr. Tusk.

It is a great pleasure to welcome my friend Bradley Tusk to Roosevelt House. We met almost 10 years ago when he was Deputy Governor of Illinois, an appointed post, and I was President of the MacArthur Foundation. We hit it off immediately, two New Yorkers in the Windy City feeling nostalgia for mutual friends like Ed Koch and former Parks Commissioner Henry Stern.

Some of you may recall that Commissioner Stern gave code names to people, something like the secret service. I was Opera, Phantom of the Opera. Bradley was Ivory because the Commissioner thought he stood high among the top young talent in his agency.

I thought Bradley would be good for the Pathways series because he understands the public, private and not-for-profit sectors. He earned his BA at the University of Pennsylvania and law degree at the University of Chicago.
He came to understand the city working for Henry Stern in his mid-twenties, then handled communications and policy for Senator Schumer, then was a Special Assistant to Mayor Bloomberg, creating the campaign promise index so the Mayor could report to the public on his campaign promises.

Moving on to Illinois as the appointed Lt. Governor he had major managerial experience something like the Chief Operating Officer. You may be familiar with the sordid record of Governor Rod Blagojevich who was sentenced to 14 years in prison on corruption charges ranging from wire fraud, attempted extortion, and a conspiracy to accept bribes — most notably in the form campaign contributions in exchange for Barack Obama’s vacant Senate seat.  While all the political chicanery was going on Bradley stuck to policy and came out clean in a vigorous federal investigation.

Under his tenure, Illinois became the first state to guarantee health care for all children, the first state to offer pre-school to all 3 and 4 year olds, the first state to convert its entire tollway system to Open Road Tolling.

He returned to New York to be a Vice President of Lehman Brothers and did better than the firm. After the bankruptcy he started his own consulting firm, Tusk Strategies. His clients include WalMart’s effort to enter the New York market, AT&T’s effort to enhance its New York profile as well as Michelle Rhee’s educational reform effort Students First. Bradley loves issues campaigns, for example, the successful campaign to raise the number of charter schools allowed in New York which helped New York win $700 million in federal Race to the Top money. The campaign was called a “coup for the charter school movement” by the Wall Street Journal, a “huge win for the kids” by the New York Daily News, and a “significant victory” by the New York Times.

Probably his most recent high profile assignment was directing Mayor Bloomberg’s successful bid for a third term.

All this and he isn’t even 40 yet! Bradley is an unusual person, not just because he is bright and precious. He understands how the political process works, keeps policy goals front and center, knows how to compromise without sacrificing principle, moves easily across party lines and brings together the public, private and non-profit sectors in pursuit of the public good.