Deputy press secretary Burton, political adviser Sweeney to leave White House

February 17, 2011

White House deputy press secretary Bill Burton and White House political adviser Sean Sweeney are leaving the administration to form their own political and strategic consulting firm, and began telling people of their plans Wednesday.

Both are longtime Democratic operatives who have been in the Obama White House since the start. Sweeney served as chief of staff to former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, running many of his day-to-day political operations. Burton was recently on the short list to replace former press secretary Robert Gibbs; that job went to Jay Carney, who gave his first White House briefing Wednesday.

Burton and Sweeney are expected to leave the White House on Friday.

“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 said in an e-mail to friends announcing the move. He and his wife, Laura Burton Capps, are expecting their first child this spring. “So on to the next chapter in my professional career.”

The announcement will presumably put to rest any rumors that Burton might run for Congress to fill the seat vacated by Republican Rep. Chris Lee of Buffalo, who resigned after half-dressed photos that he had sent to a woman via e-mail surfaced last week.

kornbluta@washpost.com

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