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Zuckman, LaHood Departures Not Related

October 14, 2011

My colleague Fawn Johnson caught up with Jill Zuckman and filed this dispatch: 

Transportation Department spokeswoman Jill Zuckman told Influence Alley on Friday that her decision to leave her post for the private sector has nothing to do with Secretary Ray LaHood's surprise announcement yesterday that he would serve only one term in the Obama administration.

LaHood still has more than a year left on the job and plenty of unfinished business, including  long-term aviation and surface transportation reauthorization bills and, of course, his relentless campaign to combat distracted driving. (If you're reading this on a smart phone behind the wheel, please put it down now in deference to LaHood.)

Zuckman, the assistant secretary for public affairs, said she loves LaHood, but couldn't turn down the opportunity to work as a managing partner at strategic communications firm SDKKnickerbocker.

"The chance to work with such incredibly talented people as Anita Dunn, Hilary Rosen, and the rest of their all-star team was too good an opportunity to pass up," she said.

Both Dunn and Rosen have long tenures in Washington. Dunn worked in the Obama Administration and for former Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D. Rosen spent 17 years running the Recording Industry Association of America.

Zuckman will be replaced by Sasha Johnson, communications director at the Federal Aviation Administration.

Zuckman left a long career as a political journalist to join the Transportation Department. She has covered four presidential campaigns and worked for the Chicago Tribune, the Boston Globe, Congressional Quarterly, and the Milwaukee Journal. She said she hopes her experience at DOT will translate when working with her new corporate clients.

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