Senior Advisor, Congressional and Legislative Affairs, National Park Service
Charles “Chuck” Laudner is the Senior Advisor, Congressional and Legislative Affairs, for the National Park Service. In May 2018, Interior Press Secretary Heather Swift said that Laudner was just hired “‘a few weeks ago,'” but based on publicly available staff calendars he appears to have been working at Interior since at least November 7, 2017.
Described as “one of the most well-connected conservative activists” in Iowa, Charles “Chuck” Laudner has been “‘been doing politics for over thirty-some years.'” Laudner graduated “from Rudd-Rockford-Marble Rock High School in 1983… attended North Iowa Area Community College, then the University of Northern Iowa and eventually received his degree from Upper Iowa University.” In 2002, Laudner helped elect Steve King to Congress, then served as his Rep. King’s first Chief of Staff through 2006. He was the Executive Director of the Iowa Republican Party from 2007 to 2008. Laudner is “best known for engineering Rick Santorum’s upset caucus win” in Iowa “in 2012 by driving around the former senator from Pennsylvania in his pickup truck.” Next, Laudner was Sam Clovis’ campaign manager when Clovis ran for Senate. In the 2016 election cycle, Laudner served as Donald Trump’s Iowa state director. Some have speculated that Laudner’s appointment at Interior “could be the latest example that” Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke “is considering a possible presidential run.”
Sources: [List of All Political Appointees as of July 6, 2018, Department of the Interior, accessed 09/27/18, Kelsey Tamborrino, “Heightened vetting for Pruitt-related FOIAs,” Politico, 05/04/18; Vincent DeVito November 2017 Calendar, Department of the Interior, Page 7; John Skipper, “For Chuck Laudner, it didn’t end in government class,” Globe Gazette, 08/05/07; Grace Wyler, “You’ll Never Guess Which Candidate Could Benefit From Cain’s Sex Scandal,” Business Insider, 11/09/11; Jason Zengerle, “Inside Trump’s Strange Iowa After-Party,” GQ, 02/02/16; Ben Lefebvre, “Zinke hires Iowa political consultant for Interior parks job,” Politico, 05/03/18; Colby Itkowitz, “How Donald Trump’s man in Iowa plans to mess with the GOP — and win,” Washington Post, 06/26/15; Vaughn Hillyard and Danny Freeman, “Trump Sets up Formidable Iowa Ground Game,” NBC News, 10/15/15; Press Release, Sam Clovis Campaign, accessed via archive.org, 10/14/13]
National Rifle Association (Resource Development on Public Lands)
In 2015, Laudner helped then-candidate Donald Trump develop a relationship with the National Rifle Association.
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Chuck Laudner helped forge the “beginning of a political marriage of convenience between Trump and the NRA.”
Over the course of his political career, Chuck Laudner has “developed relationships with NRA officials. Laudner worked those relationships on Trump’s behalf” and in 2015 was able to get then-candidate Trump a chance to speak at the NRA convention. [Mike Spies, “The Making of Donald Trump and the NRA’s Marriage of Convenience,” The Trace, 04/28/17]
Chuck Laudner reportedly ordered press removed from Trump campaign events.
In January 2016, Chuck Laudner, and his wife Stephanie, ordered New York Times reporter Trip Gabriel to be removed from one of the Trump campaign’s Iowa events.
Laudner later denied that he had Gabriel removed. In a text to Laudner, Gabriel said “I didn’t even know you were [at the event].”
Gabriel’s removal from the event came just days after had written a piece questioning “the performance of Mr. Trump’s field operation in Iowa, which [had been] run by Mr. Laudner.” [Trip Gabriel, “How I Got Ejected From a Donald Trump Event,” New York Times, 01/15/16]
Chuck Laudner defended racist comments Representative Steve King made about young immigrants.
Steve King, in July 2013, said of young immigrants, “‘For every one who’s a valedictorian, there’s another 100 out there that weigh 130 pounds, and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert.’” [Russell Berman, “Young immigrants deliver cantaloupes to Rep. King’s office on Capitol Hill,” The Hill, 07/25/13]
Chuck Laudner, who previously worked for Rep. King, defended the comments and criticized other Republican leaders for rebuking King, saying, “‘The reason they lashed out at him is because they’re weak leaders and they want to get through this amnesty debate, and if you can muzzle Steve King, that debate becomes a lot easier.'” [Jennifer Jacobs, “Congressman draws more flak for comments,” USA Today, 07/25/13]
Chuck Laudner’s wife, Stephanie Laudner, runs a political communications firm.
Stephanie Laudner worked on the Donald J. Trump campaign in Iowa, and currently runs a company called Strategy Resources that provides “full service public relations and communications services.” [LinkedIn Profile for Stephanie Laudner, accessed 05/14/18]