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The Journal Gazette

Monday, February 13, 2017 2:01 pm

Conway hires former Rokita, Souder staffer

Brian Francisco | The Journal Gazette

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway has hired as her chief of staff a woman who had led the staffs of two Indiana congressmen, including former northeast Indiana representative Mark Souder.

Renee Hudson most recently was chief of staff for Rep. Todd Rokita, R-4th, whom she has worked for since 2014. Hudson is married to Rep. Richard Hudson, R-N.C.; as congressional staffers, they wed the same day in 2010 that her then-boss, Souder, R-3rd, resigned from his House seat after admitting to an extramarital affair with a member of his Indiana staff.

Renee Howell, as she was known then, had been Souder's chief of staff for seven years when she confronted him after reporters inquired about rumors of the affair. She and Souder then discussed "the mechanics" of his public admission and resignation, and Howell reported the situation to House Republican leadership, Journal Gazette Washington Editor Sylvia Smith reported in May 2010. Souder resigned soon after.

Hudson later became chief of staff for then-Arizona representative Ben Quayle, whose father, former Vice President Dan Quayle, represented northeast Indiana in the House in the 1970s.

In a statement issued after Hudson joined Conway's staff last week, Rokita said Hudson's "intelligence, political instincts, sound advice, and years of dedicated public service will be an invaluable asset for the administration as it works to make America great again."

The Washington Post reported Friday that by hiring her own chief of staff, Conway "is asserting and perhaps growing her influence in the White House, where a coterie of top advisers have been competing for (President Donald) Trump’s ear and over the shape of his agenda."

bfrancisco@jg.net