Khachigian, Kenneth

Deputy Special Assistant to President Richard Nixon (1970-1974)

Chief Speechwriter and Senior White House Advisor, President Ronald Reagan (1980-1984)

Issues Director, Chief Speechwriter and Senior Political Advisor, to Reagan-Bush re-election campaign (1984)

Senior Staff Advisor, Bush-Quayle campaign (1988)

National Senior Advisor, California statewide campaign manager, Bob Dole's presidential campaign (1996)

National Senior Adviser, John McCain (2000)

Advisor, Bush-Cheney campaign (2000)

Senior Advisor, Senator Fred D. Thompson campaign (2008)

Individual Practice (1979-2007)

Founding Partner, Smiland & Khachigian (1994-2007)

Ken Khachigian is nationally recognized for his uniquely creative strategic and communications skills honed at the highest and most demanding political, corporate and government levels. He is renowned for his distinguished service in the White House for three U.S. presidents – exemplified by his eight years serving as chief speechwriter, senior political adviser and special consultant to President Ronald Reagan. When the firm’s clients reach out to him, they are receiving the benefit of four decades of an extraordinary professional career in law, politics and public service that prepared Ken to resolve the most difficult and complex challenges where legal, communications and policy issues intersect.

And in California—after guiding two governors, a senator and an attorney general to statewide electoral victories—he was dubbed by one of the state’s premier political writers, “the lion of California politics.” It explains why Thomas Donahue, the CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, touted Ken as “one of the nation’s most experienced and respected political and issues strategists. He has served presidents, governors, candidates and senior business executives with great skill and principle.”

Ken’s clients are drawn to his law practice because they recognize that the versatility and background he brings to the table are precisely the skillsets required to address their concerns – and offers the range of capability they are unlikely to find anywhere else. Thus, he has successfully represented companies in diverse industries including energy, health care, telecommunications, transportation, water systems, private equity, real estate, pharmaceuticals, agriculture and waste management, as well as several public agencies. He has led successful negotiations of major litigations and disputes for private and public agency clients. He is widely regarded for providing exceptional counseling in crisis management, communications, message development, government relations and strategic problem-solving.

His lifetime of preparation proves indispensable when clients are faced with threats to their success or survival.  When a crisis emerges and the risks are the highest, it is no time for amateur assistance. It is precisely the moment when Ken’s level of proficiency for bringing strategic insight, message clarity, media savvy and shrewd judgment are needed most.

Previous Experience

Deputy Special Assistant to President Richard Nixon (1970-1974)

Chief Speechwriter and Senior White House Advisor, President Ronald Reagan (1980-1984)

Issues Director, Chief Speechwriter and Senior Political Advisor, to Reagan-Bush re-election campaign (1984)

Senior Staff Advisor, Bush-Quayle campaign (1988)

National Senior Advisor, California statewide campaign manager, Bob Dole's presidential campaign (1996)

National Senior Adviser, John McCain (2000)

Advisor, Bush-Cheney campaign (2000)

Senior Advisor, Senator Fred D. Thompson campaign (2008)

Individual Practice (1979-2007)

Founding Partner, Smiland & Khachigian (1994-2007)

Practices & Industries
Special Consultant to Reagan

Ken began his public service career in the White House immediately after law school, rising to deputy special assistant under President Richard Nixon. After traveling with him as chief campaign speechwriter in 1980, President Ronald Reagan commissioned him special consultant to the president in 1981, where Ken served as chief speechwriter and senior White House adviser. Beginning with President Reagan's first inaugural address, Ken collaborated on dozens of major and historic political and policy speeches throughout the president’s two terms in office. These include State of the Union addresses, two national GOP convention speeches, addresses to the U.N. General Assembly and, as The Los Angeles Times described: “memorable presidential oratory” like “the talk at Bergen Belsen Concentration Camp that many said defused the controversy over the president’s highly controversial visit to the Bitburg cemetery in Germany.” Ken served the Reagan-Bush re-election campaign as director of issues and research, senior adviser and chief campaign speechwriter and was one of only two campaign aides who accompanied President Reagan aboard Air Force One throughout his 1984 landslide re-election effort.

  • "an architect of Ronald Reagan's 1980 White House victory” – Anthony York in Salon
  • He was “Reagan’s favorite campaign speech writer.” – Lou Cannon in President Reagan: The Role of a Lifetime
  • Khachigian wrote Reagan’s “greatest speech” and the “best speech of (Reagan’s) career.”  –Edmund Morris, Reagan biographer, author of Dutch
  • Khachigian’s deft, poignant political style and instincts helped turn Reagan into the ‘great communicator.’” – The Los Angeles Times
  • “Ken has an ear for the common. He has a feel for the vernacular, for the way to reach the emotions that a lot of people feel….He’s willing to say what he sees. It’s a great political gift.”  – Diane Sawyer, ABC News
Political Statesman

Ken was also a key adviser and strategist for President George H. W. Bush’s successful 1988 election campaign for California Governors George Deukmejian and Pete Wilson, California Attorney General Dan Lungren and California Supreme Court Justice Ming Chin, as well as directing several other statewide campaigns. He served as national senior adviser and California campaign director to presidential nominee Robert Dole in 1996 and to Senator John McCain in 2000. He is widely quoted in state and national publications, has appeared on prominent cable and network television programs and frequently lectures before businesses and associations on government affairs and politics.

  • “Ken has led three presidents and me personally to victory in California. He has the ability to penetrate very quickly right through to the heart of an issue and put it in terms the voters can understand.”  – Former California Senator and Governor Pete Wilson
  • “Ken Khachigian (is) perhaps the state’s premier Republican strategist and wordsmith.”  –Legendary Washington Post columnist Robert Novak
  • A veteran strategist who has helped deliver the state for a long list of presidential and gubernatorial candidates.” – The Associated Press
  • “Ken Khachigian is a consummate professional…(who) has plied his craft at the highest levels of California and American politics.” – The Sacramento Bee
Representative Matters
  • Regularly advises CEO, communications and counsel’s staff of healthcare enterprise regarding strategies for challenging public, regulatory and legal issues.

  • Represented Orange County toll road agency in seeking State and Federal Coastal permits to complete construction of State Route 241.

  • Provided critical guidance and messaging to public utility company CEO for sensitive remarks delivered at a public memorial following a tragic shooting that killed two employees. 

  • In the aftermath of a pipeline explosion, provided crisis communications counseling to enable the company to properly and sensitively inform its community while preventing the tragedy from crippling the utility’s public responsibility to carry out its other essential functions and corporate operations.

News & Events
Community

Board of Regents, The Orange County Council, Boy Scouts of America 

Editorial Advisory Board, Campaigns & Elections Magazine

Advisory Board, Armenian Eyecare Project

Board of Directors, California Council for Environmental and Economic Balance

Director Emeritus, Richard Nixon Foundation

Publications & Presentations
Education
  • J.D., 1969, Columbia University Law School
  • B.A., 1966, with honors, University of California at Santa Barbara
Admissions
  • California, 1970
  • Supreme Court of California
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit
  • U.S. District Court, Central District of California
  • U.S. District Court, Eastern District of California
Recognition

Deukmejian Award for Public Service, Armenian Assembly of America

Distinguished Public Service Career and Commitment to the Legal Profession, Armenian Bar Association

Number 25 on the "100 Armenians Who Changed the World" list, 100 LIVES, 2015

Distinguished Alumni Award, University of California, Santa Barbara

Lifetime Humanitarian Award, Armenian Eyecare Project

Lifetime Achievement Award, Armenian National Committee of America

Membership

California Bar Association

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