Donkeys At The Elephant Show

November 8, 1999

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A Democratic coup at ATA?
Hardly. But Democrats have been showing up in highly visible places in trucking's Republican-leaning trade organization.
Like other groups at ATA's Alexandria, VA, headquarters, the Communications Department has been totally redesigned. The department's new top three people all have backgrounds in TV news. Perhaps the best known is Regina Blakely, whose ATA title is senior vice president of strategic and litigation communications.
Blakely was a familiar face on CBS News, where she regularly reported on the White House, among other things. Blakely is backed up by Tom Amontree, another TV veteran, with the title of vice president of strategic and litigation communications. (Her title bears the word "senior," his does not). A third refugee from TV news is Mike Russell, now ATA's director of media relations.
All three TV veterans happen to be Democrats.
Blakely, who once covered Gov. Bill Clinton's Little Rock statehouse, comes from a family of well-known Arkansas Democrats. Amontree worked on Clinton's presidential campaign and as director of communications in the Clinton Department of Transportation. Russell worked for congressional Democrats such as former representatives Don Riegle and Bill Ford of Michigan. He also worked for former U.S. Surgeon General Jocelyn Elders.
Blakely told that as a reporter she was -- and now as an association executive is -- strictly bipartisan. Her hiring of both Amontree and Russell, she said, was without regard to political affiliation.
Blakely said she would describe herself as bipartisan, but volunteered that if asked, her friends would describe her as a Democrat.

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