Entries in Staff Member (5)


Obama Staffer Dies After Collapse at Chicago HQ

Frank Polich/Getty Images(CHICAGO) -- A 29-year-old member of President Obama’s re-election team collapsed at the campaign’s Chicago headquarters and later died, the campaign said Friday afternoon.

Alex Okrent, who began working for Obama during his 2004 U.S. Senate bid in Illinois, was a member of the paid media department, which handles advertising for the 2012 campaign.

President Obama, traveling on a campaign swing through Virginia, called Okrent’s family to offer his condolences, an official told reporters at the White House. He also later hosted a conference call with other Chicago campaign staff to offer his sympathies.

Okrent, a graduate of Wesleyan University, collapsed suddenly Friday morning inside the Obama campaign offices at One Prudential Plaza in Chicago, according to a report in the Chicago Sun Times, later confirmed by the campaign.

Paramedics responded and treated Okrent, but he was later pronounced dead at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

Presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney offered condolences Friday night in a message posted to his Twitter account.

“Ann & I were deeply saddened to learn of the death of Alex Okrent,” he wrote. “Prayers are with Alex’s loved ones and the entire Obama campaign team.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Gingrich 2012 Staffer Fired Over 'Cult of Mormon' Comment

Jessica McGowan/Getty Images(DES MOINES, Iowa) -- A member of Newt Gingrich’s campaign staff in Iowa was asked to resign Tuesday after disparaging comments he had made about Mitt Romney surfaced.

Craig Bergman, the political director for Newt 2012 in Iowa said last Wednesday that some pastors are on the “anti-Mitt Romney bandwagon.”

“A lot of the evangelicals believe God would give us four more years of Obama just for the opportunity to expose the cult of Mormon.  There’s a thousand pastors ready to do that,” Bergman said last week to a Republican focus group.

In the same focus group, Bergman also was critical of Gingrich, calling him the “smartest unwise man in America.”

According to the The Iowa Republican, the organization that hosted the focus group, Bergman was worried about backing Gingrich after incidents such as the GOP frontrunner’s appearance alongside fellow former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi in an ad dealing with global warming.  He had just begun working as a political director for Newt 2012 last week, and had participated in The Iowa Republican’s focus group prior to joining the campaign.

Bergman has previously worked for Ron Paul during his 2008 campaign, and most recently was a part of the grassroots movement in Iowa for a Sarah Palin presidential campaign, ‘Organize 4 Palin.’

Linda Upmeyer, Gingrich’s Iowa Caucus chair told the Des Moines Register that Bergman’s views did not represent Gingrich’s views.  Upmeyer said she has never had any discussion with Gingrich that resembled Bergman’s remarks.

The campaign released a statement Tuesday night saying Bergman agreed to step away from his role.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Two Former Gingrich Campaign Staffers Return in Iowa

Jessica McGowan/Getty Images(DES MOINES, Iowa) -- “It’s good to have some old friends come back,” R.C. Hammond, spokesperson for the Newt Gingrich campaign, told ABC News about the return of two former Iowa staff members.

The shifting political winds have blown two former campaign staffers back to the Gingrich campaign, which has seen a large uptick in the polls, putting Gingrich in the top three for the Republican presidential nomination.  The campaign has also increased drastically in fundraising in recent months, which was once $1 million in debt.

Hammond said the campaign has raised a total of $4 million in the fourth quarter so far.

The returning staff members are Craig Schoenfeld and Katie Koberg, who left the campaign in June among the mass exodus of two national advisers and several other Iowa staff members.

“What you’ve seen over the past six months is Newt establish himself as the smartest candidate, capable of leading, an increase in fundraising, showing he’s able to run a national campaign and growth of staff and grassroots efforts in several states where he’ll be able to compete in each contest,” Hammond said.

The campaign said they’re seeing tremendous support in Iowa with Linda Upmeyer as Gingrich’s caucus chair.  There will be other staffing announcements soon.

Last week, Gingrich opened up his campaign offices in Manchester, N.H., and Greenville, S.C.

Gingrich returns on Saturday to Iowa, where he will take part in the Family Leader’s Thanksgiving Family Forum in Des Moines.

The Iowa Caucus will take place on Jan. 3.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Two Herman Cain Staffers Resign from Campaign

EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images(MANCHESTER, N.H.) -- Herman Cain’s New Hampshire campaign director -- and only staffer in the state -- Matt Murphy, has resigned, Cain’s Communications Director Ellen Carmichael has confirmed to ABC News.

According to the Union Leader, Jim Zeiler, a campaign regional director, has also resigned.

Murphy told the Union Leader he resigned last Friday due to strategic differences, noting there was no “ill will” toward the Republican presidential candidate.  

“There was a strategic difference and I left the campaign because of those differences.  The differences involved the New Hampshire strategy and how much investment the campaign should put into New Hampshire,” he told the Union Leader.

Carmichael gave this statement to ABC News regarding Murphy’s departure: “Matt's time at Friends of Herman Cain ended amicably and we are in touch still with him.  We are announcing a new hire in the coming days and we are excited about continuing to expand our operations in New Hampshire and across the U.S.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Former Hill Aide, Wife of White House Staffer Found in Burned Car

Photo Courtesy - Bill Clark/Roll Call/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Ashley Turton, a former aide to Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., and wife of White House staff member Dan Turton, was found dead Monday morning in her burned-out car in the garage of her home in Southeast Washington, D.C.

Turton, a mother of three-year-old twins and a one-year-old, worked as a lobbyist for Progress Energy.

Metro police said they initially received a call at 4:50 a.m. about a car accident. The D.C. Fire Department initially responded to calls for a garage fire at the Turton's rowhouse.

They could not put out the fire, but then discovered an adult, later identified as Turton, was in the car.

Authorities believe the car crashed into the garage, but the investigation is still ongoing.

Turton was scheduled to be at work, and was most likely involved with the merger between Progress Energy and Duke Energy, which was announced last week. She had been an employee of Progress Energy since September 2007.

Her husband, Dan, is White House liaison to the House of Representatives.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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