A former deputy White House press secretary in the Biden administration who was fired for allegedly threatening a reporter has found a new job, and that’s turning heads.
T.J. Ducklo resigned from the administration in February 2021, just a month after President Joe Biden was inaugurated, for reportedly telling then-POLITICO reporter Tara Palmeri “in an off-the-record call that he would “destroy her” over an investigative story into the potential conflict of interest in his relationship with Axios reporter Alexi McCammond,” the Daily Wire reported.
In addition, Ducklo was accused of sexually harassing Palmeri by making specific allegations of jealousy.
According to reports, one of Palmeri’s editors informed the White House about Ducklo’s comments, leading to discussions with senior officials such as then-Press Secretary Jen Psaki and senior advisor Anita Dunn. Vanity Fair stated that White House officials expressed their dissatisfaction with Palmeri for revealing the contents of an off-the-record conversation with Ducklo.
The alleged incident took place a month earlier, the day Biden was inaugurated. The new president also warned staffers via a video conference that anyone caught disrespecting someone else would be fired immediately.
“If you’re ever working with me and I hear you treat another colleague with disrespect, talk down to someone, I promise you I will fire you on the spot, on the spot. No if, ands, or buts. Everybody — everybody is entitled to be treated with decency and dignity,” said Biden at the time.
But the White House merely suspended Ducklo over the incident. He resigned formally a day later.
Ducklo’s tenure in the West Wing came to an end after just two months. However, he quickly found employment as the senior vice president at Risa Heller Communications, a prominent public relations firm based in New York, the Daily Wire added.
The firm’s founder, Risa Heller, has been involved in shaping public narratives on significant controversies for numerous notable clients. Among them are Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner, Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), former Governor of New York David Paterson, former Representative Anthony Weiner, Harvey Weinstein, long-time CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, and former CNN President Jeff Zucker.
New York Magazine’s Intelligencer characterized Heller as “the crisis communications warrior of choice for [New York City’s] most cancellable elites.”
After spending a year at Heller’s firm, Ducklo, originally from Nashville, Tenn., took on the role of Chief Communications Officer and Senior Advisor to Nashville Mayor John Cooper. However, in December of the following year, Ducklo found himself embroiled in controversy once more due to his outspokenness. He posted a tweet, which has since been deleted, mocking Metro City Council members who expressed dissatisfaction with a deal involving the Tennessee Titans.
“Tough night for the loudest voices in the room,” said Ducklo’s tweet.
Despite the circumstances surrounding his exit from the Biden administration, Ducklo’s return to the president’s team is not surprising, the Daily Wire noted. He previously served as the national press secretary for the 2020 campaign and later as the senior spokesman for the transition team.
Anita Dunn, one of the senior-level officials involved in the discussions about Ducklo’s past behavior, recently defended him as a “valued friend in our community” in a statement to POLITICO last month.
On the communications team of the Biden campaign, Ducklo is joined by Michael Tyler, the former national press secretary of the Democratic National Committee, who will be serving as the communications director. Tyler has previous experience working for Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) and has been involved with a firm that played a role in Biden’s 2020 campaign, as well as both of former President Barack Obama’s presidential campaigns.
“The White House’s assistant press secretary, Kevin Munoz, also departed the administration recently to join the campaign as a spokesman,” the report added.