Former Justice Department’s Head of Public Affairs Office Launches New Practice Group at ASGK Public Strategies

New Practice Provides Crisis Communications, Litigation and Issues Management Services 


WASHINGTON, DC,  April 4, 2013 — ASGK Public Strategies, the public affairs firm founded by David Axelrod and Eric Sedler, announced the addition of Tracy Schmaler, former Director of the Office of Public Affairs at the Department of Justice, as Managing Director and head of a new practice group focusing on crisis communications, litigation, and issues management.    

As Managing Director, Tracy will lead the Crisis Communications, Litigation and Issues Management group, which will be based in the firm’s Washington, DC office. The practice will provide strategic public affairs and media relations services to clients needing assistance with crisis communications, corporate and other complex litigation, government investigations, regulatory matters, and general issues management.   

“Tracy’s service in senior positions with the Obama Administration and on the Senate Judiciary Committee, as well as her time working for Silicon Valley giant Yahoo! Inc., makes her uniquely positioned to lead this specialized practice group,” said Eric Sedler, Managing Partner at ASGK.

A seasoned media strategist and public affairs professional, Tracy worked for the last four years at the Department of Justice where she managed the Office of Public Affairs and was one of Attorney General Eric Holder’s longest-serving senior advisors. 

While at the Department, Tracy developed and managed the Department’s overall media strategy on high-profile law enforcement, policy and legislative issues including crisis communications involving the Attorney General, congressional investigations and hearings, as well as significant criminal, civil and antitrust litigation.

In announcing her departure from the Department last month, Attorney General Holder said:  “While I am sad to lose one of my closest and most trusted advisors, I am grateful to Tracy for her wise counsel, loyalty, good humor and unwavering support of me and the Justice Department over the last four years.  Tracy has been a valued member of my senior staff and a good friend whose tireless spirit and keen judgment have served me, and this Department, well.  She will be truly missed, though I wish her all the best in her future endeavors.”

In her role, Tracy was responsible for the public affairs strategy behind the government’s defense against the legal challenges to the Affordable Care Act  -- which the Supreme Court upheld in a landmark ruling in June 2012. 

She also oversaw communications and media relations for the Presidentially-appointed Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force, established in 2009.  The Task Force has been conducting criminal and civil investigations of financial institutions and individuals for conduct related to the global financial crisis.

In addition, Tracy managed communications around the Department’s record $13 billion in recoveries under the False Claims Act – the government’s primary civil remedy to resolving false claims for federal money such as Medicare benefits, subsidies and loans and other payments under federal contracts.  The record recoveries included significant settlements involving health care fraud, as well as housing and mortgage fraud.

Prior to serving in the Obama Administration, she oversaw global public affairs for Yahoo! Inc., where she advised the CEO and executive leadership team on communications strategy involving policy and regulatory issues such as Internet privacy, intellectual property, and corporate social responsibility efforts in emerging markets around the world. 

She also served on the company’s crisis communications team responsible for key priority matters, including Microsoft's attempted hostile takeover bid, the proxy contest with Carl Icahn, and domestic and international policy communications around the proposed Yahoo! - Google search marketing agreement.

Tracy has also worked for the Senate Judiciary Committee as Communications Director where she served as chief spokesperson for the Committee and its Chairman, Sen. Patrick Leahy, on issues such as Supreme Court and other judicial nominations, patent reform, oversight investigations of the Executive Branch and criminal justice policy.

Prior to her career in public affairs, Tracy was a political reporter in Vermont, where she covered state and national politics.

About ASGK Public Strategies

ASGK Public Strategies is the nationally recognized communications management firm founded in 2002 by David Axelrod and Eric Sedler. Operating at the intersection of business, policy, communications and public opinion, ASGK specializes in communications and issues management using techniques adapted from the most sophisticated political campaigns. With offices in Chicago, Washington, D.C., and New York, the firm provides services in the fields of corporate communications, public affairs, media relations, issues management, advocacy, advertising and digital communications to corporations, trade associations and nonprofit organizations.

Bryan DeAngelis