Deputy White House press secretary Bill Burton announced on Wednesday that he will be leaving the administration on Friday to form a political and strategic consulting group with fellow White House staffer Sean Sweeney. His announcement came less than two hours after the public debut of Jay Carney, the man who beat him out to be Robert Gibbs’s replacement as press secretary.
Burton has been with President Obama since he announced his campaign for the presidency in 2007. Previously, he served as the communications director for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Sweeney was a top aide to former White House Chiefs of Staff Rahm Emanuel and Pete Rouse. He was previously the staff director to the House Democratic Caucus and political director for the DCCC, where he worked with Burton.
Burton's departure is not a surprise. He was deeply disappointed at not being chosen as the first African-American press secretary. Since Carney was given the job, Burton has talked privately to friends about the opportunity to make money now that his wife is pregnant.
“While I have felt a real fulfillment in this position -- from the walls of this building to the shores of Honolulu -- painting the new baby’s room this past weekend gave me clarity about a house I might want to spend a little more time in,” Burton wrote in an email to friends and fellow staffers today.
Burton and his wife, Laura Capps -- a former aide to Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., and the daughter of Rep. Lois Capps, D-Calif. -- are expecting their first child.
Although Burton has not announced further details about the new venture, he did have this to offer: “We will have a more specific announcement in coming weeks once we figure out things like name, location and where one buys those comfy ergonomic office chairs.”
Here is Burton’s full letter:
"Friends -- I wanted to let you know that I'm going to be leaving the White House on Friday.
"Four years ago this week, I stood with many of you in Springfield as then-Senator Barack Obama announced an improbable campaign for President on an unbelievably cold day. And then I stood with a lot more of you on an unseasonably warm night in Chicago as the next First Family strode onto stage in Grant Park. There was another cold day in Washington -- when all the rest of you hangers-on showed up -- and that Senator became President. And all those days since, we worked together to make the change he promised a reality in the lives of countless Americans.
"And while I have felt a real fulfillment in this position -- from the walls of this building to the shores of Honolulu -- painting the new baby’s room this past weekend gave me clarity about a house I might want to spend a little more time in.
"So on to the next chapter in my professional career.
"I am going to partner with Sean Sweeney to start a firm focused on political and strategic consulting. We will have a more specific announcement in coming weeks once we figure out things like name, location and where one buys those comfy ergonomic office chairs.
"I'm really looking forward to partnering with Sean – a great guy and one of the most highly competent professionals in politics. Sean has served as an advisor here in the White House to Rahm Emanuel and Pete Rouse, working closely with the legislative and political affairs offices. Before that, he was Rahm's staff director in the Capitol and political director at the DCCC (during the 06 cycle when I was communications director there). Before that, he worked as a political advisor for Senator Chuck Schumer and Secretary Hillary Clinton's Senate campaigns. And now we enter into an exciting new phase of our lives.
"I will never forget the hardworking and decent people I worked with here -- and I am so thankful for the opportunity to have been a part of it. Please keep in touch. Bill"