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Bill Stepien
White House Political Director
Assumed office
January 20, 2017
President Donald Trump
Preceded by David Simas
Personal details
Born 1978 (age 39–40)
Political party Republican
Education Rutgers University, New Brunswick (BA)

Bill Stepien (born 1978) is the current White House political director. Stepien managed both of Chris Christie's gubernatorial campaigns and served as his Deputy Chief of Staff before being fired in 2014 after Christie said he "lost confidence" in Stepien's judgment.[1]

After Donald Trump secured the Republican nomination, he joined the presidential campaign in August 2016 and was later named the White House political director during the Trump presidential transition.

Early career[edit]

Stepien began his political career working on Anthony Bucco's 1997 State Senate campaign, and on Bob Franks' 2000 U.S. Senate race. He worked for Public Opinion Strategies and DuHaime Communications before managing Bill Baroni's 2003 bid for New Jersey State Assembly—the only Republican to oust a Democratic incumbent that year, and one of PolitickerNJ.com's Best Campaigns of the Year.[2]

Stepien served as Political Director of the 2004 Bush/Cheney campaign in New Hampshire, and as Director of the Republican National Committee's 72-Hour Campaign in 2005 and 2006.[2] In 2008, he was a Regional Campaign Manager for Senator John S. McCain's presidential campaign[3] before serving as National Field Director,[4] a role in which he also served for New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani's presidential campaign in 2007-08. He also served in the same role for Presidential hopeful Donald Trump in the 2016 Presidential Campaign.

Chris Christie scandal[edit]

Stepien served as campaign manager in Chris Christie's successful campaign for Governor of New Jersey in 2009.[5] Christie's first major announcement after winning the election was the naming of four top staffers, including Stepien as a Deputy Chief of Staff for Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs.[6] In April 2013, Stepien resigned from that position to become the manager of Christie's re-election campaign.[7] His replacement as Deputy Chief of Staff for Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs was Bridget Anne Kelly.[8]

After he was re-elected Governor, Christie announced that he wanted Stepien to take over the chairmanship of the New Jersey Republican Party from Sam Raia. On January 7, 2014, Christie said, "I’ve asked Bill Stepien to be our new State Party Chairman because no one better understands how to grow our party, communicate our message and, most importantly, win elections... Bill Stepien is the best Republican operative in the country, and New Jersey Republicans will be fortunate to have him leading our Party."[9] However, just two days later, on January 9, Christie announced that he had "lost my confidence in Bill's judgment," and he asked Stepien to withdraw his name from consideration for the state Republican chairman.[10]

The turnaround was a result of Stepien's work on Christie's re-election campaign, where he became embroiled in the criminal closure of access lanes to the George Washington Bridge. Investigators eventually discovered that Stepien was in a romantic relationship with Bridget Kelly, his replacement as Christie's deputy chief of staff. Their relationship lasted until August 2013, just as the plan to close the lanes was being implemented.[11] Though their personal relationship was over, Stepien was kept abreast of the lane closures and the intended fallout. It was the emails between Stepien and those involved in the lane closures that sealed his fate. Christie said, "I was disturbed by the tone and behavior and attitude of callous indifference that was displayed in the emails by my former campaign manager, Bill Stepien."[12]

Two months after losing Christie's confidence, Stepien made a "soft landing" at the data and phone bank giant FLS Connect, which hired him to work on sales and strategy.[13][14] Stepien then received a subpoena to submit documents to the New Jersey Legislature panel investigating in the lane closures. In a 19-page letter sent to Reid Schar, special counsel to the joint Senate and Assembly committee, Stepien's lawyer cited Stepien’s Fifth Amendment privilege against compelled self-incrimination, noting that in addition to the legislative probe, a federal criminal inquiry into the lane closures was also underway.[15][16]

Judge Jacobson of the New Jersey Superior Court ruled that Stepien was not required to comply with the legislative subpoenas to produce documents since they were written too broadly, and he was also protected under the Fifth Amendment.[17] In May his lawyer also contended that a report produced on behalf of the Governor's Office misrepresented his client.[18][19]

In the trial in September 2016 about the lanes closures, federal prosecution witness David Wildstein said that Stepien was aware of the lane closures as they were happening.[20][21]

Nassau Strategies[edit]

Stepien's firm, Nassau Strategies LLC, is based out of a residential home on Knob Hill Road in Hackettstown, New Jersey. The firm benefited from Christie's chairmanship of the Republican Governors Association, as did many other New Jersey-based consulting firms. In December 2013, the RGA paid Stepien's firm $15,000, just a month before Christie cut ties with Stepien.[22] On December 8, 2014, GOPAC made a retainer payment of $6,000 to Nassau Strategies for political strategy consulting.[23][24][25]

Donald Trump's presidential election and administration[edit]

In August 2016 Stepien was hired to work for the Donald Trump presidential campaign, 2016.[26][27][1] During the presidential transition late in the year Stepien was expected to be named the White House political director for the upcoming Trump Administration.[28]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Johnson, Brent, and Susan K. Livio, "7 things to know about new Trump advisor jettisoned by Christie after Bridgegate", NJ.com, August 27, 2016. Retrieved November 29, 2016.
  2. ^ a b "Two New Jerseyans play key role in Chafee win". Politicker NJ. 2006-09-13. Retrieved 2014-01-09. 
  3. ^ Martin, Jonathan (2008-04-10). "McCain finalizing regional team". Politico.Com. Retrieved 2014-01-09. 
  4. ^ Oinounou, Mosheh (10 July 2008). "McCain Taps Former Giuliani Staffer as Field Director". FOXNews.com. Fox News Channel. Archived from the original on 11 July 2008. Retrieved 17 January 2014. 
  5. ^ Burton, Cynthia. "GOP's Christie Joins Lonegan on Radio", The Inquirer, March 24, 2009. Accessed: May 2, 2015.
  6. ^ "Christie names four top aides who will help him get job done". NJ.com. 2009-12-04. Retrieved 2014-01-09. 
  7. ^ Isherwood, Darryl. "Stepien to take over as Christie campaign manager", PolitickerNJ, April 29, 2013. Accessed: May 2, 2015.
  8. ^ Chris Christie aide tied to 'Bridgegate' is a longtime government worker", New Jersey Star-Ledger, January 8, 2014. Accessed: May 2, 2015.
  9. ^ "Chris Christie campaign manager tapped to lead N.J. Republican party". NJ.com. Retrieved 2014-01-09. 
  10. ^ "WSJ Live Blog: Christie Addresses Bridge Controversy – Metropolis – WSJ". Blogs.wsj.com. 2013-09-12. Retrieved 2014-01-09. 
  11. ^ Logiurato, Brett. "Report Claims Two Key Players In Bridgegate Scandal Were Involved In A 'Personal Relationship', Business Insider, March 27, 2014. Accessed: May 2, 2015.
  12. ^ Pillets, Jeff, and Melissa Hayes. "Two sides of former Christie campaign guru Bill Stepien: Highly effective but personally abrasive, NorthJersey.com, January 18, 2014. Accessed: May 2, 2015.
  13. ^ Vogel, Ken. "Ex-Chris Christie aide lands at GOP firm", Politico, March 8, 2014. Accessed: May 2, 2015.
  14. ^ Berkley, Sheila. "Statement from FLS Connect Partner and President Sheila Berkley, FLS Connect, March 18, 2014. Accessed: May 2, 2015.
  15. ^ Grant, Jason (January 31, 2014). "Bill Stepien's lawyer objects to legislative subpoena in bridge scandal, requests its withdrawal". The Star-Ledger. Retrieved 2014-02-01. 
  16. ^ "Attorney says longtime Christie adviser Bill Stepien will invoke Fifth Amendment". The Washington Post. January 31, 2014. Retrieved January 31, 2014. 
  17. ^ Boburg, Shawn (April 9, 2014). "Judge: Christie ex-aides Kelly, Stepien can withhold documents in GWB probe". The Record. Retrieved April 9, 2014. 
  18. ^ "Attorney for Christie campaign manager demands retraction on GWB report". 
  19. ^ "Stepien's attorney says new Christie bridge scandal report bolsters client's claims". 
  20. ^ Mason, Melanie, "'Bridgegate' witness implicates top Trump staffer in plan to snarl traffic", LA Times, September 26, 2016.
  21. ^ Racioppi, Dustin, "Bridgegate Trial: Former top Christie aide Stepien accused of knowing about lane closure plan", NorthJersey.com, September 26, 2016.
  22. ^ Haddon, Heather. "Christie Aims GOP Work at N.J. Firms, The Wall Street Journal, August 21, 2014. Accessed: May 2, 2015.
  23. ^ IRS, "Form 8872: Political Organization Report of Contributions and Expenditures", GOPAC Inc, December 31, 2014.
  24. ^ Friedman, Matt (September 2, 2014). "Bridge scandal: Former Christie aide Bill Stepien is working for Republicans again". The Star-Ledger. Retrieved 2014-08-31. 
  25. ^ Friedman, Matt (May 18, 2014). "National group gives NJ contractors a new way to influence elections". The Star-Ledger. Retrieved 2014-08-31. 
  26. ^ Haberman, Maggie, and Kate Zernike, "Donald Trump’s Campaign Hires Ex-Christie Aide to Bolster Political Operation", New York Times, August 26, 2016.
  27. ^ "Is this a reason exiled Christie campaign manager is working for Trump? | The Auditor", NJ Advance Media for NJ.com, September 02, 2016.
  28. ^ Zernike, Kate, and Patrick McGeehan, "‘Abandoned’ in New Jersey, Chris Christie Returns to a Changed Landscape", New York Times, December 27, 2016. Retrieved 2016-12-27.

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