JPMorgan Chase & Co. executive and former commerce secretary William Daley was chosen Thursday to be President Obama’s new White House chief of staff, according to published reports.
Sixty-two year old Daley is brother of outgoing Chicago major Richard Daley and has close ties to former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel and outgoing White House senior adviser David Axelrod. He will be replacing interim chief of staff Peter Rouse.
Rouse stepped in when Obama’s first chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, decided to run for mayor of Chicago.
“Bill Daley is a man of stature and extraordinary experience in government, business, trade negotiations, and global affairs,” Chamber of Commerce CEO Tom Donohue said. “He’s an accomplished manager and strong leader. We look forward to working with him to accelerate our recovery, grow the economy, create jobs, and tackle America’s global challenges.”
Daley serves on JPMorgan’s Executive Committee in charge of Corporate Responsibility and is a board member of the pharmaceutical company Merck.
He was also US Secretary of Commerce during the Clinton administration, where he helped shape the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and worked on trade relations with China. He’s currently a board member at the centrist Democratic think tank “Third Way.”
Daley joined JPMorgan in 2004 as Midwest Chairman, and in 2007 began to lead the firm’s efforts in corporate social responsibility.
Tapping a corporate executive for the key position at a time when the nation is focused on the economy would cast the president as a business-friendly centrist, serving as an olive branch to conservative critics while inevitably irritating his progressive base.
Some liberal Democrats complain that the White House is too cozy with business, arguing that corporate special interests have held undue influence over the outcomes of key initiatives such as health care and financial reform.
“This was a real mistake by the White House,” Adam Green, the co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, said. “Bill Daley consistently urges the Democratic Party to pursue a corporate agenda that alienates both Independent and Democratic voters. If President Obama listens to that kind of political advice from Bill Daley, Democrats will suffer a disastrous 2012.”
The Obama administration has been in the midst of a staff shake-up in recent weeks.
President Obama’s new senior adviser David Plouffe starts work Monday, replacing David Axelrod. Press secretary Robert Gibbs also announced Wednesday that he would be leaving his position in early February.
Despite leaving the White House, Axelrod and Gibbs said they both plan to help with Obama’s re-election campaign in 2012.
Obama will hold a press conference at 2:30 pm EST to announce his decision. Raw Story will have the video embedded in this story shortly thereafter.
This video is from Fox News’ America Live, broadcast Jan. 6, 2010.
With prior reporting by Sahil Kapur