Laurie Rubiner, Legislative Director on Hillary Clinton's Senate Staff, is departing her position by the end of the year -- i.e., in two weeks.
Rubiner has been one of the reasons why Hillary Clinton's Senate legislative profile has been praised by so many. Clinton gets high marks from nearly everyone for how she has worked the levers of the Senate's institutional machinery to achieve policy and political traction.
Laurie Rubiner, a former senior health policy adviser to Senator John Chafee (R-RI) and the first Director of the New America Foundation's Health Care Program, shared in an email that she was going to be the new Executive Director of a new policy center in Washington affiliated with the NGO, Malaria No More.
Rubiner is Hillary Clinton's long serving legislative director, having served for three years.
According to a friend, "she is working 100% until the very end. She is literally in Iowa at this very moment (today), doing surrogate work as one of Hillary Clinton's primary health care advisors." This friend who is close to the central nerve center of the Hillary Clinton operation stated:
It's no coincidence, and it was noticed in people who follow the issue, that Hillary Clinton announced $1 billion to cure malaria by 2012 only days after Laurie told Senator Clinton what she would be doing. . .
This is an excerpt from the email Rubiner shared with associates recently:
Dear Friends and Colleagues:
I wanted to let you know that at the end of the year I will be leaving the Clinton office to be Executive Director of a new policy center in Washington DC devoted to putting us on the path to eradicating malaria.
Affiliated with Malaria No More in New York, the Washington policy center will be tasked with building the political will and financial support necessary to end deaths from malaria, the number one killer of children under five in sub-Saharan Africa.
It has been an honor and a privilege to serve as Senator Clinton's Legislative Director for the last three years, and I will miss her and her wonderful and extraordinarily capable staff. But this was an opportunity that I felt was a once in a lifetime chance to make a tremendous difference in the lives of millions of children and I simply could not pass it up. . .
Office of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton
I have previously written about Laurie Rubiner's formidable intellectual and policy skills -- and these were noted in a major profile of Rubiner and her influence on Hillary Clinton's health care plan in the New York Times. Not only was the profile interesting in profiling Clinton's legislative and health policy czar, it was refreshing to see that Hillary Clinton herself had the confidence to allow such a high profile piece to be done on a member of her staff.
There will no doubt be much speculation about what Rubiner's departure means for the Clinton camp which is a couple of weeks from the Iowa Caucuses -- as Rubiner has been one of the inner circle players in "Hillaryland." I have talked to insiders though who have said that there is no drama here at all. One observer said "this is the time of politics and not policy, and Laurie Rubiner is a policy addict." Another friend stated that "Laurie 'agonized' for months, but her love of health care (second only to HRC's, and the basis of their close bond) won out. Laurie had seen the Health Care plan through it's development and successful introduction, so she felt it was a good time."
Rubiner -- who is known to be one of the few insiders who "talks real" with Clinton -- is going to remain part of Hillary's circle of trusted counselors.
In fact, a prominent Hillary Clinton spear-carrier reported to me:
. . .I would just note that many people leave Hillaryland and then come back -- including Neera [Tanden] who went to the DCCC, CAP; Howard [Wolfson] who went to DCCC, Glover Park; and Patti [Solis Doyle] who went to Glover Park, etc.
Nobody every really leaves Hillaryland."
In addition to the comments above, I was told that Hillary Clinton relies on Rubiner for tough-minded policy counsel and straight talk and definitely would have liked to keep her through this period. In addition, this source stated that if "Hillary captures the White House, President Hillary Clinton will want Laurie with her."
Truth in advertising -- Laurie Rubiner is a former colleague of mine at the New America Foundation -- and everything I have written about her powerful political, policy, and intellectual skills has probably been understated.
Steve Clemons is Senior Fellow and Director of the American Strategy Program at the New America Foundation and publishes the popular political blog, The Washington Note