Reince Priebus

Reince Priebus


  •  J.D., University of Miami (1998). [1]
  • Bachelor’s of Political Science and English, University of Wisconsin−Whitewater (1994). [2]


Reinhold “Reince” Priebus was the White House Chief of Staff, appointed by President Donald Trump on 13 November 2016 until July 28, 2017 when he was replaced by John F. Kelly. In his position, he was previously “in charge of day to day operations,” he told Fox News, as well as acting as a top adviser to Trump. [3], [4], [36]

Priebus ran an unsuccessful bid for Wisconsin Senate in 2004, leading to him working as treasurer and later becoming chairman of the Wisconsin Republican Party in 2007. He became general counsel for the  Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele in 2009, serving until 2010 when he stepped down to run for the position of chair of the Republican National Committee (RNC). On January 14, 2011, he was elected the 65th chairman of the Republican National Committee[2]

After successfully cutting the RNC‘s debt, Priebus was elected to serve another term on 25 January 2013. When he was elected for a third term on 16 January 2015, he became the longest serving chairman in history, according to the GOP website[5], [6], [35]

He is known for working to bring Wisconsin’s Tea Party movement together with the more mainstream Republican party, easing conflicts between the two parties. In his first press conference as chairman, he was asked about the Tea Party: “I’m part of the grass-roots movement,” he said. “One of the things I’ve said is that our party is part of the conservative movement in this country. We’re not in competition with it; we’re going to do it right.”  [7]

Koch Ties

AlterNet described the Republican National Committee (RNC) which Priebus chaired as a “wholly owned subsidiary of the Koch’s Americans for Prosperity.” Priebus worked closely with the Wisconsin chapter of Americans for Prosperity (AFP). [8]

Mark Block, former state director of the Wisconsin chapter of AFP, praised Priebus in a Daily Caller op-ed, noting he had supplied a 2009 AFP rally with transportation and GOP staff support “for the movement of an enormous number of Tea Party activists from the outskirts of Madison to the rally site on the steps of the State Capitol, where over 8,000 people gathered.” [9]

In addition to this, according to Alternet, Priebus was allegedly involved in a “Voter caging” effort coordinated with the Wisconsin Tea Party group GrandSons of Liberty and assisted by AFP. [10]

The Center for Media and Democracy’s PR Watch described Priebus’s appointment as Chief of Staff as a “win for the Koch wing of the Republican Party,” noting Priebus’ long-held connections to Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan. In 2011, the Washington Post described Priebus, Paul Ryan, and Scott Walker as “not only friends but political soul mates.” [11], [12]

According to data from Conservative Transparency, the both Charles and David Koch have funded the RNC. David Koch contributed $307,700 to the RNC and the RNC Republication National State Elections Committee, while Charles Koch contributed $111,600 to the RNC. The Koch Industries PAC also donated $15,000. [13]


Christopher Ruddy, Newsmax Media CEO and friend of Donald Trump, told The Washington Post, “I think on paper Reince looked good as the chief of staff — and Donald trusted him — but it’s pretty clear the guy is in way over his head. He’s not knowledgeable of how federal agencies work, how the communications operations work. He botched this whole immigration rollout. This should’ve been a win for Donald, not two or three weeks of negative publicity.” [14]

Politico reported that several of Trump’s campaign aids had started to “draft lists of possible Priebus replacements, with senior White House aides Kellyanne Conway and Rick Dearborn and lobbyist David Urban among those mentioned.” [15]

Stance on Climate Change

February 27, 2015

During his 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference speech, Priebus said: [16]

“Democrats tell us they understand the world, but then they call climate change, not radical Islamic terrorism, the greatest threat to national security. Look, I think we all care about our planet, but melting icebergs aren’t beheading Christians in the Middle East.” [16]

Key Quotes

January 14, 2015

Writing on Twitter, Priebus opposed Obama’s energy policies: [17]

Key Deeds

February 23, 2017

Reince Priebus spoke alongside Trump’s top strategist, Steve Bannon, at the 2017 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). Huffington Post reported that Priebus “laughed off reports of a power struggle betwen themselves, complimenting each other in their respective roles in the White House.” 

February 19, 2017

Speaking on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace, Reince Priebus said there was no cooperation between the Trump campaign and Russia prior to the election, after a New York Times  report the week prior claimed otherwise. Full video below. [19]

“I can assure you – and I’ve been approved to say this – that the top levels of the intelligence community have assured me that that story is not only inaccurate but it’s grossly overstated and it was wrong,” Priebus said. He added that “They have made it very clear that that story in The New York Times is complete garbage.”  [19]

He did not clarify who the “they” were in that statement, saying he did not have permission to give names.  [19]

Huffington Post also noted that Priebus defended Trump’s statements that the media was “the enemy of the American people” in a tweet Trump had sent the prior week. [20]

November 28, 2016

Reince Priebus went on Fox News Sunday to discuss Donald Trump’s “major flips on policy” including the potential for the U.S. pulling out of the Paris Agreement.  In a New York Times interview shortly before, Trump had said that he had “an open mind” to the Paris agreement. [21]

However, ThinkProgress reported that Trump had not been entirely forthright with the Times. Priebus told Wallace: [22]

As far as this issue on climate change — the only thing he [Trump] was saying after being asked a few questions about it is, look, he’ll have an open mind about it but he has his default position, which most of it is a bunch of bunk, but he’ll have an open mind and listen to people,” Priebus said. [23]

October, 2016

Despite his current position as White House Chief of Staff, Priebus did not always support Trump’s views. Breitbart News posted audio recording Paul Ryan’s October, 2016 conference call where Ryan had disavowed Trump: [24]

There are basically two things that I want to make really clear, as for myself as your speaker,” Ryan said in the recording. “I am not going to defend Donald Trump — not now, not in the future. As you probably heard, I disinvited him from my first congressional district GOP event this weekend — a thing I do every year. And I’m not going to be campaigning with him over the next 30 days.” [24]

Politico noted that the recording was made shortly after the “Access Hollywood” video, where Trump had bragged about his sexual exploits was aired. [25]

The world is well aware of this history,” Ryan spokesman Brendan Buck responded to Breitbart “And obviously a lot has happened since then. As everyone knows.” [25]

May 23, 2014

The RNC sued the Federal Election Commission (FEC), requesting the ability to raise unlimited cash from individual donors similar to Super PACs. Previously, the RNC could accept a maximum of $32,400 annually from donors, and $10,000 from local-level parties AP reported. [26]

“The patchwork of limits on political speech undermines the First Amendment and puts high transparency, full-disclosure groups like the RNC on an unequal footing with other political entities,” RNC Priebus said in a statement. “We are asking that political parties be treated equally under the law.”  [26]

Opponents of the RNC worried that individual donors could gain significant power if the court sided with the GOP[26]

“If the RNC is successful, we will again see party committees brazenly soliciting $1 million contributions from wealthy contributors seeking to directly purchase influence over candidates and officeholders, with the party committees acting as the sales agent,” said Lawrence Noble, former counsel to the FEC and current adviser at the Campaign Legal Center.   [26]

Politics USA wrote, “The point of this lawsuit is to let the Koch brothers, and other right wing billionaires, directly buy the RNC. Of course, Republicans don’t want the world to know that they are owned by a few billionaires, so they are opposed to any actual transparency, but they definitely want those Koch dollars.” [27]

February 29, 2012

Priebus wrote op-ed in Fox News associating President Obama and high gas prices: [28]

“Despite the need for domestic energy, he [President Obama] closed federal lands to drilling and mocked those who call for more oil production,” Priebus wrote.

“He killed the Keystone XL pipeline project, blocking an affordable, reliable source of energy—and jobs. Now, that oil will likely be sold to China instead of the United States. And we will continue to import from unstable regions in the world instead of Canada.

“The president should welcome Keystone. He should open up energy production onshore and offshore, and he should end his efforts to increase taxes and onerous regulations on American energy.

“Obama’s decisions have cost us—and not just at the pump. With the stimulus, he gambled billions in taxpayer money on green energy companies like Solyndra, the now-bankrupt California-based solar energy company. Solyndra’s bankruptcy has left taxpayers on the hook for over half a billion dollars and put 1,100 employees out of work.

“For three years, the president has done nothing meaningful to keep energy prices low, and now that Americans are feeling the pain at the pump, they are rightfully going to hold him accountable.”

DeSmog noted that “Not only are these allegations simply not true, they also demonstrate a complete lack of knowledge about oil and gas prices […]  The claims made by Preibus – that Obama has been hostile towards the oil industry and is restricting drilling – have been debunked by media outlets across America.” [29]

March 25, 2011

Priebus was copied on an email (PDF) from Nick Ayers of the RGA to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker that was part of a collection of approximately 1,500 emails released as part of the Wisconsin John Doe II investigation, and reported on at The Guardian. [30], [31]

The email proposes an election strategy coordinated with outside spending groups including the RGA, the Republication State Leadership Committee, Americans for Prosperity, and the Club for Growth. [31]

September 2010

One Wisconsin Now reported that the RNC, led by Priebus, had been working to “suppress the vote in minority voting precincts in Milwaukee that involved Priebus.” This “Voter caging” effort was led by the Wisconsin Tea Party group GrandSons of Liberty and assisted by AFP. [10]

The Brennan Center for Justice describes voter caging as follows: [32]

“Voter caging is a tactic that jeopardizes eligible citizens’ ability to vote. The process involves efforts to identify and disenfranchise improperly registered voters solely on the basis of an undeliverable mailing. The most common method involves three steps:  [32]

– send mail to addresses on the voter rolls,

– compile a list of the mail that is returned undelivered, and

– use that list to purge or challenge voters’ registrations on the grounds that the voters on the list do not legally reside at their registered addresses. “


  • Republican National Committee (RNC— Executive Committee Member. [33]
  • Wisconsin Presidential Preference Selection Committee — Member. [33]
  • Republican Party of Wisconsin — Chairman. Former Vice Chairman, Former Treasurer. [33]
  • Republican Party for the First Congressional District of Wisconsin — Former Chairman. [33]
  • Michael Best & Friedrich LLP Former partner in the litigation practice group and co-chair of the firm’s government and public policy group. [34]

Social Media



  1. Reince Priebus, JD ’98, Elected Chairman of the Republican National Committee,” University of Miami School of Law, January 18, 2011. Archived March 15, 2017. URL: 
  2. 2011 ASSEMBLY JOINT RESOLUTION 5” (PDF), State of Wisconsin 2011 – 2012 Legislature. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.
  3. Hallie Jackson. “Donald Trump Names Reince Priebus Chief of Staff, Steve Bannon as Chief Strategist,” NBC News, November 13, 2016. Archived March 15, 2017. URL:
  4. Brian Naylor. “Who Is Reince Priebus, Trump’s Newly Named Chief Of Staff?” NPR, November 14, 2016. Archived March 15, 2017. URL
  5. Chairman Priebus leads RNC revival: From $23M in the red to $7M in the black,” The Hill, February 16, 2012. Archived March 16, 2017. URL
  6. AP. “Reince Priebus re-elected GOP national chairman,” U.S. News & World Report, January 25, 2014. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. URL: 
  7. Don Gonyea. “Meet Reince Priebus, The New RNC Chairman,” NPR, January 15, 2011. Archived March 15, 2017. URL
  8. Adel M. Stan. “Priebus’ Republican National Committee: A Wholly Owned Subsidiary of Koch’s Americans for Prosperity?Alternet, January 20, 2011. Archived March 15, 2017. URL
  9. Mark Block. “Reince Priebus is the grassroots choice for chairman,” The Daily Caller, January 13, 2011. URL:
  10. Sarah Posner. “Inside Americans for Prosperity’s Scheme to Suppress Votes in Wisconsin,” The Nation Institute. Reprinted by Alternet, November 2, 2010. Archived March 15, 2017. URL:
  11. Mary Bottari. “Reince Priebus Promotion Another Big Win for the Koch Caucus,” PR Watch, November 15, 2016. Archived March 15, 2017. URL
  12. Dan Balz. “A young Wisconsin trio could shape the direction of the GOP,” Washington Post, February 5, 2011. Archived March 15, 2017. URL
  13. Search results for ‘republican national committee’,Conservative Transparency. Search performed March 15, 2017. Archived .xlsx on file at DeSmog.
  14. Philiip Rucker. “Trump friend says Priebus is ‘in way over his head’,” The Washington Post, February 12, 2017. Archived March 16, 2017. URL:
  15. Jos Dawsey and Alex Isenstadt. “Trump reviews top White House staff after tumultuous start,” Politico, February 12, 2017. Archived March 16, 2017. URL:
  16. Tim McDonnell. “The Science of Why Republicans Are Dead Wrong About Climate Change and National Security,” Mother Jones, March 2, 2015. Archived March 15, 2017. URL:
  17. Obama’s war on #energy kills jobs and raises costs.  Stop the war on #coal,” Twitter post by Reince Priebus, January 14, 2015. Archived .png on file at DeSmog.
  18. Igor Bobic. “Steve Bannon Says Feud With ‘Corporatist, Globalist’ Media Will Only Get Worse,” Huffington Post, February 23, 2017. Archived March 15, 2017. URL
  19. Priebus: Trump Personnel ‘Absolutely’ Did Not Collude with Russia During Campaign,” Fox News Insider, February 19, 2017. Archived March 15, 2017. URL
  20. Rebecca Shapiro. “Chris Wallace: Obama Didn’t Like The Media, ‘But He Never Said We Were An Enemy’,” The Huffington Post, February 20, 2017. URL:
  21. Michael D. Shear, Julie Hirschfeld, and Maggie Haberman. “Donald Trump Seems to Retreat on Some Promises,” The New York Times, November 22, 2016. URL
  22. Joe Romm. “Priebus confirms that climate denial will be the official policy of Trump’s administration,” ThinkProgress, November 28, 2016. URL
  23. Reince Priebus on Trump’s stance on Cuba, Cabinet picks; Rep. Tim Ryan on why he’s challenging Nancy Pelosi,” Fox News, November 27, 2016. Archived March 15, 2017. URL
  24. Matthew Bale. “Exclusive — Audio Emerges of When Paul Ryan Abandoned Donald Trump: ‘I Am Not Going to Defend Donald Trump—Not Now, Not in the Future’,” Breitbart, March 13, 2017. URL
  25. Mike Zapler. “Breitbart posts October audio of Ryan disavowing Trump,” Politico, March 14, 2017. URL:
  26. Philip Elliott. “RNC files lawsuit to raise unlimited cash,” AP, May 23, 2014. Archived March 15, 2017. URL
  27. Sarah Jones and Jason Easley. “Republicans Are Suing The FEC to Give The Koch Brothers More Power To Steal Your Vote,“ Politics USA, May 23, 2014. Archived March 15, 2017. URL
  28. Thanks to Mr. Obama, America is running on empty,” Fox News, February 29, 2012. Archived March 15, 2017. URL
  29. Farron Cousins. “Republican Claims About Gas Prices Demonstrate Lack Of Knowledge About Free Market’,” DeSmog, March 7, 2012.
  30. Ed Pilkington and the Guardian US interactive team. “Because Scott Walker asked,” The Guardian, September 14, 2016. Archived March 15, 2017. URL:
  31. FW: WI” (PDF), Reince Priebus – Chairman’s Office, March 25, 2011. Retrieved from DocumentCloud. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.
  32. Voter Challenges & Caging,” Brennan Centre for Justice at New York University School of Law, November 9, 2012. Archive March 15, 2017. URL:
  33. Reince Priebus: Chairman at Republican Party of Wisconsin,” LinkedIn. Accessed March 16, 2017. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. 
  34. Caitlin Huey-Burns. “10 Things You Didn’t Know About Reince Priebus,” U.S. News & World Report, January 4, 2011. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. URL
  35. Reince Priebus,” GOP. Archived November 2, 2016. URL:
  36. Reince Priebus Is Ousted Amid Stormy Days for White House,” The New York Times, July 28, 2017. Archived October 4, 2017. URL:

Other Resources

Image of Reince Priebus by Michael Vadon – image has been cropped from original (Flickr) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

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