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California Legislature California politics

Assembly speaker taps former Obama spokesman for communications strategy

Bill Burton (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)
Bill Burton (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

With California's face-off against Washington, D.C., getting widespread attention, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon has turned to a veteran of national politics to help shape his public image: White House veteran Bill Burton.

Burton, who once worked as deputy press secretary in the Obama administration, was hired this month by Rendon, a Democrat from Paramount, for communications strategy.

Now a managing partner in the Los Angeles office for SKDKnickerbocker, a prominent liberal public affairs firm, Burton said he relished being involved in California politics, which he said sets a model for liberals nationwide.

"With President Trump and congressional Republicans controlling the national agenda, Speaker Rendon and his incredible staff are at the center of some of the most important progressive fights in the country and we couldn't be more excited to be helping any way we can," he said.

Burton said his services, paid for out of Rendon's campaign account, are meant to offer a "more intentional approach to how he's been dealing with media" — a recognition, he said, of Rendon's and California's "elevated role" in national politics.

Rendon is not the only legislative Democrat to be represented by SKDKnickerbocker. Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia of Bell Gardens also is a client. The firm also worked with Democratic Reps. Grace Napolitano and Linda Sanchez in their reelection bids, as well as freshman Rep. Nanette Barragan in her heated congressional race against fellow Democrat, former state Sen. Isadore Hall.

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