White House communications director Kate Bedingfield will leave her role at the end of the month, the administration announced Friday.
Bedingfield, a longtime Biden aide dating back to his time as vice president, will be replaced by Ben LaBolt, who served as an Obama White House press official and most recently joined the Biden administration on a temporary basis to assist with communications around the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson.
Bedingfield had originally announced plans to step down as communications director last summer, but reversed her decision and opted to stay on through the rest of the year.
“Since my time as Vice President, Kate has been a loyal and trusted adviser, through thick and thin,” Biden said in a statement. “She was a critical strategic voice from the very first day of my presidential campaign in 2019 and has been a key part of advancing my agenda in the White House.
“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,” Biden added. “Ben has big shoes to fill. I look forward to welcoming him back as a first-rate communicator who’s shown his commitment to public service again and again, and who has a cutting-edge understanding of how Americans consume information.”
LaBolt will become the first openly gay individual to serve as communications director, the White House said Friday.
Bedingfield’s exit marks the latest departure of a top administration official in the new year.
Ron Klain officially departed as chief of staff this week after two years on the job. He is replaced by Jeff Zients, who previously oversaw the administration’s coronavirus pandemic response.
Brian Deese is set to leave his post as director of the National Economic Council in the coming days. His replacement has not yet been named.
Labor Secretary Marty Walsh is also expected to become the first Cabinet secretary to leave the administration when he takes the job as head of the National Hockey League’s Players Association.
The departure of Bedingfield and Klain in particular marked the first major instance of turnover among members of Biden’s inner circle of senior aides who have worked with him for years.
The change comes as Biden is preparing to officially announce plans to run for re-election in 2024, and some White House staff are expected to transition over to the campaign to assist that effort.
Klain vowed to do what he could to help Biden get re-elected. Bedingfield is likely to remain involved in Biden’s orbit, but it is unclear what, if any, role she would have on a 2024 campaign.