Sara Marie Taylor (born September 15, 1974, in Dubuque, Iowa) is a public relations consultant who was the Director of the White House Office of Political Affairs and Deputy Assistant to President George W. Bush from February 2005 to May 30, 2007. A Republican campaign strategist, field operator, pollster, she was one of George W. Bush's top political aides until her resignation in 2007. During that period, she reported directly to Karl Rove. She testified to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee in the dismissal of U.S. Attorneys controversy of 2007.
Education and early career
Taylor graduated from Wahlert High School, a private, co-educational, Roman Catholic school in Dubuque, Iowa, in 1992. She then attended Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. While in college, she was the National Co-Chairman of the College Republicans. She also took a year off, in 1995-1996, to work on Senator Phil Gramm's presidential campaign in Iowa.
In from April 1999, Taylor began working for the presidential campaign of George Bush. Her initial position, through January 2000, was coalitions director for Bush's Iowa caucus campaign. She then did field work in the South Carolina, Virginia, Washington, and Illinois primaries, and finally served as executive director of the Michigan campaign. After Bush was elected, Taylor worked for the White House as an associate political director (Midwest) doing political and public affairs outreach.
In July 2003, Taylor became the Deputy to Matthew Dowd, the Chief Strategist for the Bush-Cheney 2004 re-election campaign. There she helped refine the campaign's microtargeting, using sophisticated analysis of consumer data to target potential voters even when they resided in Democratic-leaning voting districts.
After the November 2004 election, Taylor returned to work in the White House. Beginning in February 2005, she was the Director of the White House Office of Political Affairs and Deputy Assistant to President George W. Bush . A Republican campaign strategist, field operator, and pollster, she was one of George W. Bush's top political aides, reporting directly to Karl Rove. She resigned in May 2007.
Dismissal of U.S. Attorneys controversy
On June 13, 2007, the Senate and House judiciary committees issued a subpoena to Taylor, to produce documents and testify before the committee. A subpoena was also issued to Harriet E. Miers, former White House counsel and supreme court nominee. In response to the subpoenas, the White House said that its longstanding policy was that no past or present White House officials would be permitted to testify under oath before the panels, and that only private, non-legally-binding, non-transcribed interviews would be permitted.
The Democratic chairs of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees said that the White House terms were unacceptable.
A ranking member of the Senate Judiciary committee, Arlen Specter (R-PA) said that Taylor had not responded to an April 11, 2007, inquiry by the committee, and he supported the issuance of the subpoena in light of the lack of response by Taylor. On July 9, 2007, White House counsel Fred Fielding, in letters to Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Representative John Conyers (D-MI) said the President Bush is invoking executive privilege and not allowing Taylor to testify, but reiterated that Taylor was available for a private, off the record interview.
Ultimately, on July 11, 2007, Taylor did appear before the committee, where she testified that she did not talk to or meet with President Bush about removing federal prosecutors before eight of them were fired. Former Chief of Staff to the attorney general Kyle Sampson had already testified that Taylor was upset when the Attorney General finally "rejected" use of the interim authority to appoint US Attorneys without Senate confirmation. However, under questioning from Chairman Leahy, Taylor responded "I did not speak to the president about removing U.S. attorneys. I did not attend any meetings with the president where that matter was discussed."  Taylor answered many questions with "I don't recall." "Taylor shifted between defending the Bush administration and refusing to answer questions, claiming executive privilege via a letter from White House counsel Fred Fielding."
At one point Taylor said "I took an oath and I take that oath to the president very seriously." She was corrected by Leahy who pointed out that her oath had been to uphold the Constitution, "Your oath is not to uphold the president." After she agreed with his statement, Leahy said "We understand your personal loyalty to President Bush. I appreciate you correcting that your oath was not to the president, but to the Constitution. But you also have legal obligations to honor your oath to tell the truth, the whole truth. And failures to produce documents and no recalls, those are very difficult for me to accept as chairman of this committee."
Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) told Taylor "You might have been on safer legal ground if you'd said absolutely nothing.... You are between a rock and a hard place. There's no way you can come out a winner. And I don't think any U.S. attorney anywhere, as the appointee of the president, is going to bring a criminal contempt citation. But if this committee asks for one, it will be a big cloud over you, a big smear that'll last the rest of your life."
She was found not to have any knowledge of the acts and all subpoenas were dismissed.
In October 2007, Taylor joined Designated Market Media, a leading Republican media consulting firm. She and the other three partners of DMM also created another firm, known as the Blue Front Group, to handle corporate and nonpolitical work.
In mid-2009, Taylor co-founded, with public affairs veteran John Brady, the company Resonate Networks, an advertising firm that will use data on political leanings and attitudes to help companies and interest groups sell online ads. The company initial funding of $2 million came from a wide range of investors including President Bill Clinton's deputy chief of staff, Harold Ickes; Alexander Gage, founder of TargetPost Consulting, who worked on the Bush 2004 campaign with Taylor; Steve McMahon, media consultant and strategist for Howard Dean's 2004 presidential campaign; Rich Tarplin, a strategist for members of Congress; and Linda Tarplin, a former senior staffer at the White House and Department of Health and Human Services under Presidents George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan.
In October 2009, it was reported that Taylor was one of three GOP consultants with presidential experience who were advising Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty. Pawlenty considered candidacy for the Republican primaries of 2012, but relinquished his campaign as of late 2011.
Taylor is currently the owner and president of a new media firm, BlueFront Strategies. BlueFront is a strategic consulting and public affairs company, focused on providing the business community with cutting edge issue advocacy and solutions.
Taylor is the daughter of Ray Taylor, a former Iowa state representative. She is married.
- Mary Rae Bragg (October 29, 2007). "Dubuque native found herself in the spotlight of a political controversy". Telegraph Herald.
- Sridhar Pappu (July 12, 2007). "A Bush Aide's Long Road From The White House". Washington Post.
- "Drake Honors Outstanding Alumni Achievement, Loyalty". Drake University. May 4, 2006. Retrieved 2009-10-02.
- "President George W. Bush-Campaign Organization". Eric M. Appleman/Democracy in Action. Retrieved 2009-10-02.
- Michael A. Fletcher (May 28, 2007). "Another Top Bush Aide Makes an Exit". Washington Post.
- Stout, David (June 13, 2007). "Congress Subpoenas Miers and Another Former Bush Aide". New York Times.
- Marre, Klaus (June 13, 2007). "Specter endorses subpoena of White House official". The Hill.
- Sen. Patrick J. Leahy - Letter to Fred Fielding
- Bush orders Miers not to testify
- Sessions, David (July 12, 2007). "Mixed Baghdad: Bloggers on the White House's Iraq progress report.". Slate.
- Laurie Kellman (July 11, 2007). "Aide: Didn't Talk to Bush About Firings". Associated Press.
- "Excerpts from the Sara M. Taylor hearing". Associated Press. July 1, 2007.
- Chris Cillizza And Shailagh Murray (October 14, 2007). "First Came the '02 Race. Then They Squared Off in '04 and '06. Now It's ...". Washington Post.
- Cecilia Kang (May 7, 2009). "New Firm Mines Its Polling Expertise; Data on Consumers' Political Leanings Used to Help Sell Online Advertising". Washington Post.
- Jonathan Martin (October 1, 2009). "Pawlenty preps 2012 campaign team". The Politico.
- "Leadership: Sara Taylor". BlueFront Strategies (bluefrontstrategies.com). Retrieved 2009-10-02.
|Director, White House Office of Political Affairs
February 2005 – May 31, 2007