Meet Gov. Scott Walker’s New Political Hit Women
Jocelyn Webster, left, and Ciara Matthews, right, were hired as spokes women by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.
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As Wisconsin’s recall elections approach, Republican Governor Scott Walker has enlisted an eyebrow-raising pair of well-connected, out-of-state political operators to sell his administration's policies and promote his reelection. Of the two young women, one cut her teeth with Karl Rove and the other promoting anti-abortion causes and working with Tea Party favorite Sharon Angle.
Late last year, the governor's office announced it had hired 28-year-old
Jocelyn Webster to serve as communications director for the Wisconsin Department of Administration (DOA). The department manages the state buildings where most of the anti-Walker protests have been held, and its duties include setting rules for protests. Webster started her career with Rove's notorious Office of Political Affairs in the George W. Bush administration.
A congressional investigation of the activities of that office yielded allegations -- including specific allegations against Webster – that Rove's team was involved in partisan campaigning on the public dime, a claim also l eveledat aides of her newest boss during his tenure as Milwaukee County Executive.
As activists gathered signatures to recall the governor in late 2011,
Walker also hirednew campaign staff, including Ciara Matthews as campaign communication director. Matthews, a 20-something Nevada native, has worked as spokesperson for an anti-abortion group as well as Angle's 2010 senate campaign, where she defended Angle's racially tinged ads and banned reporters from a candidate event for asking questions without permission.
Webster's Eye-Rolling Leads to Discovery of Her Karl Rove Roots
Jocelyn Webster, the new DOA communications director, first caught the eye of citizens attending a public "information session" about restrictions on rallies in the capitol.
On December 1, Walker's DOA released a 23-page policyannouncing new limits on demonstrations in and around the state capitol, the site of massive protests in early 2011. Most observers viewed the new rules as an effort to suppress dissent. Webster's name was at the top of the December 1 press release announcing the new restrictions, and she was quotedin the press claiming that the “updated policy is meant to remove confusion and create consistency” for law enforcement officers and the public.
DOA announced a two-week “educational period” to help the public understand the new restrictions before they took effect. During the contentious public information sessions, Webster hovered in the background, but her eye-rollingin response to citizens expressing concerns about restrictions on their freedom of speech led someto take a closer look at her experience and her background.
From Washington to Wisconsin
Webster is no cheesehead. She was most recently in Dallas, Texas, working government relations for the global convenience store chain 7-Eleven. Previously, she worked four months for New Jersey governor Chris Christie's PR shop. For nine months before that she pushed press inside the Beltway on education policy in the 2008 election year. She also worked PR for New Yorker Rudy Giuliani's presidential campaign.
But before those experiences, Webster worked for the federal government in
Washington DC, and was cited in a major congressional investigation.
After graduating from college in California, Webster got a gig at the new Department of Homeland Security as a liaison to the George W. Bush White House. After six months, she moved to the White House and became a staffer in the Office of Political Affairs (OPA) in February 2006.
OPA was overseen by Karl Rove and was reportedly tasked with tracking the political environment. A three-year investigation into OPA concluded in January 2011 with a reportshowing the office routinely violated the Hatch Act, a federal law prohibiting the use of taxpayer dollars for partisan political activities.