Ian Prior has built an impressive career at the intersection of law, politics, and strategic communications. He leveraged his legal background to become a power player in Republican political circles, serving in high-profile roles for national campaigns, party committees, and influential outside groups. Along the way, Prior gained a reputation as an effective communicator and media savvy operator. This article will explore Prior’s professional journey and shed light on how he ascended to prominence within the GOP.
Early Life and Education
Ian Prior was born in Rhode Island in the late 1970s. He attended Moses Brown School, a prestigious prep school in Providence. Prior went on to study at Northwestern University, graduating in 2001 with a bachelor’s degree in political science. He was also captain of Northwestern’s varsity soccer team.
After college, Prior returned to his home state for law school. He earned his Juris Doctor from Roger Williams University School of Law in 2004. While in law school, Prior displayed an interest in conservative politics. He served as president of the Roger Williams Federalist Society chapter. This early involvement foreshadowed Prior’s future career path.
Litigation Associate at Law Firms
Upon finishing law school, Prior embarked on a career as a litigation attorney. From 2001 to 2004, he worked as an associate at Edwards Angell Palmer & Dodge in Boston. He then spent 2006-2007 as an associate with the firm Brown Rudnick Berlack Israels. During these years, Prior handled complex civil cases and honed his legal skills.
Assistant Corporation Counsel in Boston
In 2007, Prior entered the public sector by joining the City of Boston’s law department. He served as an assistant corporation counsel for the city from 2007 to 2011. In this role, Prior provided legal counsel to city officials and defended the city government in litigation. He also gained firsthand municipal government experience.
Armed with legal and government expertise, Prior pivoted to politics in 2012. His communication abilities and conservative ideology proved valuable assets in the partisan arena.
Campaign Manager for Brendan Doherty
Prior’s first major political job came in 2012 when he was named campaign manager for Brendan Doherty. Doherty was the Republican nominee for Rhode Island’s 1st Congressional District. Prior applied his strategic and messaging skills to position Doherty as a credible challenger. Although Doherty ultimately lost the race, Prior impressed GOP operatives with his political talents.
Press Secretary Roles
In 2013, the National Republican Congressional Committee hired Prior as their northeast regional press secretary. He served as the NRCC’s chief spokesperson for House races in the northeast.
After the 2014 midterm elections, Prior was promoted to national press secretary for the NRCC. In this high-profile role, he spearheaded communications for the committee’s efforts to elect Republicans nationwide to the House.
Communications Director at American Crossroads
Prior joined the elite ranks of national politicos in 2015 when he became communications director for American Crossroads. This prominent conservative Super PAC aimed to influence federal elections and policy debates. As communications director, Prior shaped messaging and public relations for Crossroads’ multi-million dollar ad campaigns. His stint lasted until 2017.
Work in Federal Government
Department of Justice
In March 2017, Prior entered the Trump administration as deputy director of public affairs at the Department of Justice. He served as a spokesperson and advisor for the department, drawing on his extensive communications experience.
Prior left the administration after about a year. His time in government provided insight into managing communications strategy at the highest levels.
Accomplishments and Recognition
Beyond individual job titles, Prior has garnered widespread respect as an adroit political communicator and strategist.
- In 2012, Campaigns & Elections magazine named Prior one of the top 500 political influencers in America. He was praised as “widely considered one of the top GOP campaign managers in the state.”
- Prior successfully steered high-stakes campaigns and committees, helping Republicans win contested elections and shape policy narratives.
- His blend of legal, government, and communications expertise is rare and proved profoundly valuable.
- Prior leveraged his abilities to become a major player nationally in Republican politics and policy.
While intensely focused on his career, Prior makes time for hobbies and recreation. He is an avid sports fan who especially enjoys following New England’s pro teams. Prior stays active by cycling, playing golf, and spending time outdoors.
Family is also important. Prior resides in Washington D.C. with his wife and two young daughters. He works to balance his demanding professional responsibilities with quality time as a husband and father.
Ian Prior cultivated an eclectic skill set spanning law, media relations, crisis management, politics, and government processes. This background allowed him to thrive as a communications strategist at the forefront of Republican policy initiatives and campaigns.
Looking ahead, Prior is well positioned to continue impacting national political debates or pivot into advocacy or the private sector. Regardless, his influence and accomplishments to date leave a significant mark on early 21st century conservative politics.
Q: Where did Ian Prior attend college?
A: Ian Prior graduated from Northwestern University in 2001 with a bachelor’s degree in political science.
Q: What was Prior’s first major political job?
A: In 2012, Prior served as campaign manager for Brendan Doherty’s congressional campaign in Rhode Island.
Q: How long did Prior work as a press secretary?
A: He worked as a press secretary for the National Republican Congressional Committee from 2013 to 2015.
Q: What role did Prior have with American Crossroads?
A: He was the communications director for American Crossroads, a prominent conservative Super PAC, from 2015 to 2017.
Q: What position did Prior hold in the Trump administration?
A: He was deputy director of public affairs at the Department of Justice for about a year starting in 2017.