No. 2 spokesman to depart White House

White House deputy press secretary Bill Burton will depart the Obama administration on Friday to form a new political consulting firm, he said Wednesday.

Burton, the No. 2 spokesman at the White House, will depart to form the firm with Sean Sweeney, an aide to former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel and Pete Rouse, a senior Obama adviser.

Burton sent an e-mail to notify the media of his departure, which comes after the departure on Friday of White House press secretary Robert Gibbs. Burton had been thought to be in the running to succeed Gibbs, but lost out to Jay Carney, who made his debut behind the podium on Wednesday.

The upstate New York native had been mentioned briefly last week as a possible candidate to run in a special election for former Rep. Chris Lee's (R-N.Y.) district, but his move, announced Wednesday afternoon, appears to formally rule that out. In his e-mail, Burton wrote that painting a new baby's room in his house spurred some "clarity about a house I might want to spend a little more time in."

For the White House, Burton's departure marks a moment of continued turnover in the communications team. The press shop was staffed largely with alumni of the 2008 presidential campaign, which included some aides who had been with Obama even longer.

In addition to Gibbs's departure, White House senior adviser David Axelrod departed to make way for incoming adviser David Plouffe, who's been given a broader role in shaping the administration's messaging.

Burton wrote that details about his new endeavor with Sweeney would emerge in "coming weeks," but took time to reflect on his tenure in the White House.

"I will never forget the hardworking and decent people I worked with here — and I am so thankful for the opportunity to have been a part of it," he wrote.

Sam Youngman contributed to this post.