Jill Hazelbaker

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Jill Hazelbaker is a communications executive, political campaign spokesperson and campaign staff member primarily for candidates of the Republican Party in the United States. She is currently the head of corporate communications at Google.[1]

Hazelbaker was the national communications director for John McCain's presidential campaign. A MSNBC online piece listed her as one of eight in McCain's "candidate brain trust," their shortlist of the candidate's closest advisers.[2]

Hazelbaker's name earlier came to public attention in connection with an accusation of astroturfing[3] at the time she was the press secretary for Tom Kean Jr.'s 2006 campaign for the US Senate in New Jersey. Hazelbaker denied involvement in those activities.


Early life and career

A native of Salem, Oregon, Hazelbaker attended the University of Oregon in Eugene, studying Political Science while she worked for the school newspaper the Oregon Daily Emerald.[4]

While a student, Hazelbaker did a congressional internship in Washington, D.C. for Rep. Greg Walden, an Oregon Republican.

In 2002, she worked on Sen. Gordon Smith's 2002 re-election campaign. In 2004, she worked to help Republican Jim Zupancic in his uphill and ultimately unsuccessful campaign against U.S. Rep. Darlene Hooley. That led to a short stint at the New York-based consulting firm, Mercury Consulting, according to a recent article in The Oregonian.[5]

2006 U.S. Senate campaign in New Jersey

Hazelbaker served as a campaign spokeswoman for the 2006 US Senate campaign of Republican Thomas Kean Jr., who was ultimately defeated after a hard-fought campaign against the incumbent, Democrat Robert Menendez. Charges against Menendez of past corruption formed a centerpiece of the Kean campaign.[6] [7]

New Jersey graduate student Juan Melli, founder of a weblog and online forum called Blue Jersey, noticed that between July and September one IP address had registered four different accounts, each one claiming to be a Democrat but posting multiple anti-Menendez comments using pseudonyms like usedtobeblue and cleanupnj. The same IP address [8] was also used for multiple Wikipedia edits attacking Menendez.[9][10] This IP address had also been used to send emails signed by Hazelbaker to other correspondents, according to the New York Times.[3][11]

Hazelbaker and Kean both denied that she had played any role in astroturfing, although neither denied that the activity originated from a Kean campaign computer. Hazelbaker told a New Yorker reporter, "It's nonsense.... We have hundreds of volunteers coming through here. It could’ve been anyone. Or someone could just sit on our front porch and use our wireless connection and our I.P. address."[12]

The Kean campaign also drew scrutiny over its relationship with opposition researcher Christopher Lyon. Kean staffers denied that Lyon worked for Kean directly. A New York Times article about Lyon's role includes Hazelbaker's response to the issue:

"I think the selective outrage here is a little laughable," said Hazelbaker, a Kean spokeswoman, who added that Mr. Menendez's former law partner, who was at his side when he was sworn in as a senator, had been convicted of dealing cocaine.[13]

The Oregonian quoted Hazelbaker's reflecting on the Senate campaign, "People are not afraid to personally attack you if they think it is in the interests of their candidate," she says. "You have to keep a smile on your face and keep your head down and keep working.... I loved it, but you have to learn to take your lumps." [5]

John McCain Communications Director

On December 21, 2006, Hazelbaker was hired to serve as New Hampshire communications director on the staff of John McCain.[14] Following a shakeup on the McCain campaign in the summer of 2007, most of McCain's media team resigned. Hazelbaker was then promoted to national communications director, to be based out of Washington, D.C.[15]

Press stories in late 2007 and early 2008 quote Hazelbaker discussing aspects of the McCain campaign including fundraising, poll results, and countering a potentially lethal New York Times story.[16] Such stories describe her job giving varied titles, such as "the campaign's national spokeswoman"[17], "press secretary for the McCain campaign",[18] and " McCain Communications Director."[19]

Hazelbaker has been profiled in Glamour Magazine, calling her "McCain's Press Pro."[20] In February 2008 she was cited in the AP as one of the "5 People Who Run McCain's Campaign."[21] The Independent profiled her in the piece on "The people who sell presidents."[22] More recently, Hazelbaker was featured as part of McCain's senior staff in GQ Magazine's photographic profile on the 2008 election, entitled "Who It Takes."[23]

A recent article in The Oregonian quotes Greg Strimple, "a prominent GOP consultant who works with the McCain campaign," praising Hazelbaker together with John McCain adviser Steve Schmidt, for "bring[ing] message discipline to the [McCain campaign] operation." Hazelbaker "has an ear for campaigns," Strimple says. "She understands the music."[5]

On August 10, 2008, the New York Times described McCain's campaign as "divided" in the wake of a disagreement with Hazelbaker over her criticism of Barack Obama's overseas trip in July.[24] Hazelbaker denounced Obama's trip as a "campaign rally overseas," but McCain corrected her remarks, saying that he was glad Obama had visited Iraq and Afghanistan, and saw political overtones only in his visits to other countries.[25]

According to the Wall Street Journal, however, "When McCain's campaign plane landed in Michigan that day, however, the candidate talked to reporters to clarify his original remarks. The Iraq and Afghanistan portion of the trip, he said, was not political but the subsequent swing through Europe was. 'If he has political rallies in other places, obviously then it's a political trip. But I was speaking specifically about Iraq and Afghanistan and I believe that… this will not be a place for political rallies or politicization but the rest of the trip, then we'll see what happens,' McCain said." [26]

Asked to clarify whether he believed the European visit was simply a photo opportunity, he said: "Apparently it's going to be. If he's going to have rally in Germany at the Brandenburg Gate, which is what is being publicly stated. Of course, if you have political rallies, then it's a political event."[26]

An Oregonian article profiling Hazelbaker and her campaign colleague Tucker Bounds describes how both are "in McCain's Arlington, Va., headquarters before the regular 7:15 a.m. strategy meeting held by top aides. It's not unusual for them to be there until 10 or 11 at night -- and they're often still fielding calls after they've gone home." The article quotes Hazelbaker on her busy schedule, "You have to try to keep your cool and keep a smile and have fun as much as you can. These are incredibly serious and difficult jobs. You are trying to elect someone to the presidency." [5]

Hazelbaker appeared on national cable and network news programs, such as CBS' The Early Show, where she commented on John McCain's pick of Sarah Palin as his running mate:

"John McCain is going to make the choice from his heart. He's going to choose someone who can be a partner in governing. He's going to choose someone who brings character and principle to the table and who shares his priorities. And I'm confident that he's going to make a great pick," Hazelbaker said.[27]

Michael Bloomberg Campaign

On February 17, 2009 it was widely reported that Michael Bloomberg's campaign had hired Hazelbaker.[28]

In a statement released by Bloomberg's camp, Senator McCain said Hazelbaker "brings a skill set that is valuable to any campaign" and called the mayor "fortunate to have her on board... I wish him and the campaign all the best."[29]

On the Bloomberg team, Hazelbaker was working under Howard Wolfson, the former communications director for Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, of whom Hazelbaker said "Howard is someone I've admired for a long time...He's very smart and savvy...It's a very special opportunity that doesn't come along very often to be able to work with someone from the other side of the aisle."[30]


  1. "Google hires ex-McCain communications head-source". http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSN1117546420100112?type=marketsNews. 
  2. "Candidate Brain Trusts". MSNBC. http://msnbcmedia.msn.com/i/msnbc/Components/ArtAndPhoto-Fronts/USNEWS/Projects/CandidatesBrainTrust/Flash_BrainTrusts888.swf. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 Miller, Jonathan (2006-09-21). "A Blog Suspects That an Aide to Kean Posted Jabs at Menendez". New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/21/nyregion/21blog.html. Retrieved 2008-09-23. 
  4. July 25 2002 Congressional Tribute from Congressman Greg Walden
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Jeff Mapes (August 31 2008). "'Dynamic Duck duo' help propel McCain's campaign". The Oregonian. http://www.oregonlive.com/politics/index.ssf/2008/08/dynamic_duck_duo_help_propel_m.html. 
  6. Jim Dwyer (June 25, 2006). "Kean Faults Menendez in 80's Corruption Case, but History Begs to Differ". New York Times. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9402EFD71630F936A15755C0A9609C8B63&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=all. Retrieved 2007-10-28. 
  7. Laura Mansnerus (November 12, 2006). "Sometimes Mud Sticks to the Thrower". New York Times. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9E0CEEDE1F3FF931A25752C1A9609C8B63&sec=&spon=&partner=permalink&exprod=permalink. Retrieved 2007-10-28. 
  8. Wikipedia Internet Protocol address
  9. Wikipedia diff
  10. New York Times Empirezone blog
  11. empirezoneblogs.nytimes.com
  12. Nick Paumgarten. "Dirty Wikitricks". http://www.newyorker.com/archive/2006/11/06/061106ta_talk_paumgarten. Retrieved September 21, 2008. 
  13. Laura Mansnerus and Mike McIntire (October 5, 2006). "A Behind-the-Scenes Player Draws Notice in New Jersey". New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/05/nyregion/05hudson.html. Retrieved 2008-04-11. 
  14. McCain.org
  15. The Atlantic.com
  16. "'McCain turns tables on Times"
  17. Des Moines Register
  18. "Washington Times
  19. New York Daily News
  20. How to love a crazy job
  21. McCain Advisers Chart a New Direction
  22. "The people who sell presidents"
  23. "Who It Takes: A GQ Photographic Portfolio, Campaign '08" See Photo 22/26
  24. Nagourney, Adam; Jim Rutenberg (2008-08-10). "In Loose Style, McCain Leads a Camp Divided". New York Times. pp. A1. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/10/us/politics/10mccain.html?ex=1376107200&en=dbc0757f9fc9ddd4&ei=5124&partner=permalink&exprod=permalink. Retrieved 2008-08-11. 
  25. Montanaro, Dominico (2008-07-18). "Obama vs. McCain: Travel Politics". MSNBC. http://firstread.msnbc.msn.com/archive/2008/07/18/1206398.aspx. Retrieved 2008-08-11. 
  26. 26.0 26.1 "Obama’s Trip Causes Discord in McCain Camp". Washington Wire - WSJ.com. http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2008/07/17/obamas-trip-causes-discord-in-mccain-camp/. 
  27. Sidoti, Liz (2008-08-29). "CBS: McCain names Alaska governor as VP". AP. http://www.wral.com/news/political/story/3453209/. 
  28. Barbaro, Michael (2009-02-17). "Bloomberg Campaign Hires Former McCain Aide". New York Times. http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/02/17/bloomberg-campaign-hires-former-mccain-aide/. 
  29. Benjamin, Elizabeth (2009-02-17). "Bloomberg Hires McCain '08 Spokeswoman". NY Daily News. http://www.nydailynews.com/blogs/dailypolitics/2009/02/bloomberg-hires-mccain-08-spok.html. 
  30. Mapes, Jeff (2009-02-25). "The latest doings of GOP's "Dynamic Duck Duo"". The Oregonian. http://blog.oregonlive.com/mapesonpolitics/2009/02/the_latest_doings_of_gops_dyna.html. 

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