Renee Hudson

Renee Hudson, far left, with her husband, U.S. Rep. Richard Hudson, on election night. Renee Hudson has taken a job as chief of staff to embattled White House counselor Kellyanne Conway.

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway has named the wife of 8th District Congressman Richard Hudson as her chief of staff.

As the rest of the political world was learning the news about Renee Hudson’s new job, she was actually in Moore County with her husband for a weekend staff retreat at Pine Needles. Her husband shared the news at a private dinner Saturday in which he invited a number of local elected leaders to attend — including the mayors of several municipalities, some county commissioners, Sheriff Neil Godfrey and state Rep. Jamie Boles, among others.

“I am very proud of my wife,” Hudson said late Monday afternoon in a brief telephone interview from his Washington office. “It is great for our district and our community to have her in the West Wing and to have a voice in the West Wing.”

While Conway’s job does not specifically entail working directly with Congress — the White House has a legislative affairs office — Hudson said it is possible there could be some involvement on specific issues. He noted that the opioid epidemic has been a big issue for Conway.

Hudson, a Concord Republican, said he invited a number of local officials to attend the dinner at Pine Needles so they could meet all of his staff members.

Moore County was moved from the 2nd to the 8th District last year under new congressional maps enacted by the N.C. General Assembly. Hudson had represented the previous 8th District for two terms before winning re-election in the newly redrawn district last November.

According national media accounts, Conway is beefing up her political operation and expanding her influence in the White House by hiring a veteran congressional aide to serve as her chief of staff.

Since Trump’s inauguration, Conway herself has been in an unflattering national spotlight a few times, first for using the phrase “alternative facts” to describe a briefing by presidential press secretary Sean Spicer in which he defended false inauguration attendance figures.

Conway was then called out the following week by the national media for at least twice referring to the lack of media coverage of the “Bowling Green massacre” led by two Iraqis. Her comments were in defense of President’s Trump’s travel ban, which has since been blocked by federal courts. No such massacre ever occurred and Conway later apologized for the phrase, saying she meant something else.

Last week, Conway landed in a negative light again when, in what national ethics experts said was a severe breach of ethics and protocol, made a blatant plug for Ivanka Trump’s merchandise. “Go buy Ivanka’s stuff is what I would say,” Ms. Conway said in an interview with Fox News, speaking from the White House. “I’m going to give a free commercial here: Go buy it today, everybody; you can find it online.”

Federal ethics rules prohibit executive branch employees from using their public office for personal gain or to endorse products for friends or relatives.

Renee Hudson had been serving as chief of staff to Republican Rep. Todd Rokita, a strong backer of Trump in the presidential campaign. She previously served as chief of staff to two other Republican congressman — Reps. Ben Quayle of Arizona and Mark Souder of Indiana.

Conway took over as President Trump’s campaign manager in July and then transitioned to an advisory role within the administration. She became one of the president’s highest-profile aides and has appeared on news shows to defend the president and promote his policies.

A story in The Washington Post describes Richard Hudson as “a gregarious and well-liked member of the Republican conference and a trusted ally of Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) and other party leaders.”

Like his wife, Richard Hudson also had experience serving on the staffs of several members of Congress. He happened to be serving as chief of staff for Texas Congressman Mike Conway when he and Renee married. He also served on the staffs of Republican U.S. Reps. Virginia Foxx, of North Carolina, and John Carter, of Texas.

Richard Hudson also served as district director for 8th District Congressman Robin Hayes from 1999 to 2005. He first won election to Congress in 2012.

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