The executive soap opera at Politico appears to be winding up faster than previously scheduled.
Jim VandeHei, the site’s chief executive, will officially leave the publication he co-founded within the next two weeks, scrapping an earlier plan to stay put through the presidential election in November. Three other senior business managers will leave early, too.
VandeHei has already more or less checked out; he has rarely been in Politico’s Arlington headquarters since late January and has begun interviewing job candidates for a new, still-unnamed news venture. VandeHei declined to comment.
Among those also leaving is Kim Kingsley, Politico’s chief operating officer and one of the site’s earliest employees and architects. Kingsley is also infrequently in the office and has stopped using her Politico email address.
As previously announced, Allen will join VandeHei in his new venture. Glasser will be moving to Israel with her husband, New York Times reporter Peter Baker; she will then take on a new job, head of editorial innovation, and become a writer for Politico and other publications, including the New York Times magazine.
The departures of VandeHei and Kingsley appear to end what had been an awkward two months or so for Politico, which has pioneered rapid-fire coverage of politics and the federal government since its founding in 2007.
VandeHei, Allen and Kingsley shocked colleagues and political junkies in late January when they announced that they were leaving the site they had been instrumental in building.
The blow-up in the company’s executive ranks stemmed primarily from a dispute between VandeHei, a hard-charging former political reporter at The Washington Post, and Politico’s chairman and co-founder, Robert L. Allbritton.
The two men clashed over many issues, including strategy, editorial direction and compensation, creating what several people described as a poisonous atmosphere for managers and staff members. The bad blood led both parties to scrap plans, announced in January, for VandeHei to remain in his job until November.
Two other executives — Chief Revenue Officer Roy Schwartz and Executive Vice President Danielle Jones — will also leave this month as full-time employees, Politico said. Jones will continue as a consultant to Politico.
Politico is still looking for replacements for the departing executives. It also has not said what it will do when Allen — its biggest star — decamps at the end of this year to join VandeHei’s venture. Allen and editor in chief John Harris, another co-founder, both declined comment.
Despite the management turmoil, Politico’s 300-person newsroom — which has experienced its own periods of rapid turnover in the past — has covered the 2016 campaign without evident disruption.
President Obama, in a speech last week critiquing the news media, praised one of Politico’s projects (without mentioning Politico by name): a magazine story that fact-checked Donald Trump’s speeches. Obama and several presidential candidates have also given interviews to Politico columnist Glenn Thrush’s new podcast, Off Message. It has also produced various scoops about the candidates.
Senior managers say the executive shakeup hasn’t hurt advertising revenue, which is reportedly growing. And the site’s traffic is up, to 15 million unique visitors in February, a 38 percent gain from January and 112 percent over the same month in 2015, according to the ComScore tracking firm.
A Politico spokesman, Brad Dayspring, said in a statement Monday that VandeHei and Harris “agreed that it was appropriate [for VandeHei] to wrap up his time at Politico this spring,” given that the publication was meeting its business and editorial goals. Allbritton agreed with the plan, he added, and “others on the departing business team reached similar conclusions on their own individual timelines.”