Freshman Republican Rep. Raúl Labrador has hired Ellen Carmichael as his communications director, a month after she departed Herman Cain's presidential campaign.
Asked whether her job change had anything to do with Sunday's news that Cain faced allegations of sexual harassment at the National Restaurant Association in the 1990s, Carmichael told me Tuesday, "Absolutely none."
Carmichael did call the timing "unique," with her beginning her job Monday with Labrador just as Cain was caught in a media firestorm about allegations he has flatly denied.
Carmichael said Labrador wasn't among her initial job prospects but that he phoned her "a couple of days" after news of her resignation broke Oct. 1. Before beginning with Labrador, she left Cain's Atlanta offices to return to her home state of Louisiana to help GOP Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne win re-election. Dardenne, Carmichael's first boss in politics, won on Oct. 22. Carmichael also worked as a coordinator for Americans for Prosperity, in Louisiana. AFP is backed by billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, who advocate lower taxes and other conservative causes.
Why take a job with a freshman congressman just when the Cain campaign was rocketing him to front-runner status?
"I really can't say anything legally," Carmichael said. "I've signed non-disparagement, non-disclosure and confidentiality statements upon my departure, so I can't speak to the campaign."
Carmichael said she wanted to work in Washington, D.C., and was among the longest-serving members of Cain's staff.
A month ago, she told CNN that her leaving after more than a year as "a very amicable departure," adding "it was just time for me to go pursue other professional opportunities."
Added Carmichael, "He wished me the best of luck. And I will forever be fond of him and appreciative of this opportunity."
CNN had recently recognized Carmichael as part of a new generation of newsmakers. She grew up in Baton Rouge, La., and attended Louisiana State University, earning a degree in political communication in 2009.
On Tuesday, Carmichael said, "It was just time to go." She said she had "a couple offers on the table" when she was recruited by Labrador.
"I'm really thrilled to be here working for Congressman Labrador. I think he's a rising star and an effective conservative voice and an effective voice for Idaho," Carmichael said. "I'm really honored to be here and to be working with this staff and getting to tell his story, like I did Herman Cain's."
Tuesday's new release announcing Carmichael's hire follows:
LABRADOR ANNOUNCES NEW COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Congressman Raúl Labrador of Idaho’s First Congressional District announced today that Ellen Carmichael has joined his Capitol Hill staff as communications director.
“We are thrilled to announce that Ellen Carmichael has joined our team,” Congressman Labrador said. “I am confident that Ellen’s experience, skills and dedication will allow her to serve the people of Idaho with distinction.”
“I would like to extend my heartfelt gratitude to Congressman Labrador and his staff for granting me the opportunity to join their Washington, D.C. team,” Carmichael said. “I am honored to serve such an unwavering conservative whose work to renew the American Dream has only just begun.”
Carmichael most recently served as the chief spokeswoman and communications director for Herman Cain’s presidential campaign for more than a year. Previously, she led communications and media relations efforts for dozens of campaigns across the U.S. and also served as a consultant for political non-profit organizations. Carmichael is a graduate of Louisiana State University and hails from Baton Rouge, La.
Carmichael joined the Capitol Hill staff of the Office of Congressman Raúl Labrador on Monday, October 31, 2011. She may be reached by email at email@example.com or by phone at (202) 225-6611.
Additionally, Phil Hardy has assumed an increased role from the Meridian office and has been promoted to district coalitions director. He will focus on bringing together broad-based coalitions district-wide on issues most critical to the economic growth and vitality of Idaho. Hardy will serve as a direct conduit between the Congressman and his constituents. With the addition of this role, Congressman Labrador will increase his accessibility and outreach efforts. Hardy will assist Carmichael in maintaining relationships with Idaho media on behalf of the Congressman.
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