Kate Bedingfield, the White House communications director, is leaving the White House and is expected to play a role in President Joe Biden’s 2024 reelection campaign.
Ben LaBolt, a top Democratic communications professional who served in the Obama White House, will replace Bedingfield as communications director, the White House said. LaBolt also worked with the Biden White House during the confirmation process for Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson.
The White House said LaBolt will be the first out gay White House communications director.
In a statement, President Joe Biden said Bedingfield has been “a critical strategic voice from the very first day of my presidential campaign in 2019.”
“Since my time as Vice President, Kate has been a loyal and trusted adviser, through thick and thin,” Biden said in a statement.
He added, “The country is better off as a result of her hard work and I’m so grateful to her – and to her husband and two young children – for giving so much.”
Bedingfield had previously announced last summer that she would leave the administration, but later reversed her decision, remaining in the post for several more months.
One source familiar with her thinking said that Bedingfield’s initial decision to leave had a lot to do with feeling burnt out and exhausted – but that now she is “ready in a way she wasn’t last time” to depart the Biden White House.
It also felt like a natural time to exit given other major changes in the West Wing, including former chief of staff Ron Klain’s departure this week. Klain was replaced by Jeff Zients. Bedingfield is expected to be a consultant to Biden’s anticipated reelection campaign.
The White House communications director, with a dedicated office in the West Wing, is responsible for the overall publicity and messaging strategy for the president. As Biden nears a decision on running for reelection, he will be working to sell his achievements to the American people, a majority of whom say in polls he hasn’t accomplished much.
“Ben has big shoes to fill,” Biden said in his statement. “I look forward to welcoming him back as a first-rate communicator who has shown his commitment to public service again and again, and who has a cutting-edge understanding of how Americans consume information.”
As the administration enters its third year, other top officials are planning their departures. Top economic advisor Brian Deese has announced he is leaving soon, and Labor Secretary Marty Walsh is planning to take a post leading the NHL Players’ Association. He will be the first Cabinet secretary to vacate his position during the Biden administration.
Bedingfield, who is a frequent presence on television, has worked for Biden for several years. She served in his office when Biden was vice president and later joined his campaign, leading a team that endured setbacks and second-guessing before eventually securing the Democratic nomination.
Inside the White House, Bedingfield shared responsibility for communications and public relations strategy with senior adviser Anita Dunn and press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre.
This story has been updated with more reporting.