REDWOOD SHORES, May 25—Former Clinton White House spokesman Joe Lockhart, hired in November as senior communications advisor to Oracle chief executive Larry Ellison, is leaving the company after just six months. Lockhart said the decision was based on difficulties posed by his commute to the west coast from Washington, D.C., rather than any personal clash with Ellison.
Oracle spokeswoman Jennifer Glass said Lockhart resigned effective May 15 after it became apparent that his weekly commute to Silicon Valley from the Washington, D.C.-area—where he lives with his wife and daughter—had become untenable. “It was completely amicable,” said Glass, who described the resignation as “a joint decision” between Lockhart and Ellison.
Lockhart was assistant to the president and press secretary at the White House from 1998 until the end of last year, handling communications throughout the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Before joining the White House in 1997 he was national press secretary for the Clinton/Gore 1996 re-election campaign. He also has experience on the agency side of the business, having served as a senior vice president and crisis communications expert at Robinson Lerer Sawyer Miller.
At Oracle, his most visible accomplishment was securing former President Clinton as a speaker at a software developers’ conference earlier this year. Clinton addressed the Oracle-sponsored event just days after Morgan Stanley Dean Witter controversially repudiated its own decision to invite Clinton to speak at an analysts’ conference.
But with Lockhart guiding communications strategy at Oracle, the software company had also adopted a public relations style that had a lot in common with political campaign techniques. Forbes ASAP, which described the Oracle approach as “smashmouth PR,” recently reported that the company had issued press releases “depositioning” competitors such as Siebel Systems and PeopleSoft.
Lockhart has not announced what he will do next.