RNC Communications Director & Spokesman
When Burns, the director of communications and spokesman for the convention committee, started working on the convention in June 2007, he was a one-man press shop, handling daily calls from reporters and planning the growth of an operation that will, come September 1, provide services to 15,000 members of the media. "We are basically building a company, and communications office, from the ground up here," he said. In January, he hired two more communications employees; by mid-July, he was up to a dozen; by the time the convention begins, he will have somewhere between 150 and 175 people on board. "Every outlet in the world will be wanting a piece of the action, and we're building an infrastructure to handle those requests," he said. The growth of his communications outfit means that Burns has gone from handling press calls to managing the people who handle the press calls; he says he misses the day-to-day interaction with reporters, but he is enjoying the experience of building the operation.
Burns hails from upstate New York. He began his career working for members of the state Legislature, and from 2001 to '05, he was a spokesman for various agencies in then-New York Gov. George Pataki's administration. During the 2004 Republican convention, Burns was the deputy director of transportation. After that, he moved to Washington where, except for a brief stint helping with GOP communications in Pennsylvania during the 2006 election campaign, he was a press secretary for the Veterans Affairs Department. Burns left that job to work on the 2008 convention.