Doing public relations for a sports team is a little like doing public relations for a Member of Congress: The goal is to help your employer win and hope that they don’t stir up too much controversy along the way.
David Beltran, press secretary for Rep. Sam Farr, says his job isn’t a huge departure from his old gig as the L.A. Galaxy soccer team’s media outreach staffer.
“For the Galaxy, I was doing a lot of Hispanic outreach. Since soccer is a growing sport, I was trying to build up a profile in the community,” he said. “I was talking to reporters and facilitating interviews in the same way you would distribute information in a Congressional office.”
Politics wasn’t an out-of-left-field choice for the 29-year-old, who started his House gig with the California Democrat in October. Beltran was press secretary for Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (D) before coming to work for Farr.
Although he’s not new to politics, Beltran is enjoying getting to know Capitol Hill, a place with its own rhythm and culture.
“The Hill is so energetic and there’s always something going on. I love the energy here, you can’t beat it,” said Beltran, a Los Angeles native. “And other than the obvious cold weather, Washington is a lot different for me... I’m enjoying not having a car for the first time in my adult life.”
Even though he grew up in L.A., Beltran lived in his parents’ native Mexico for five years as a child. Having Spanish as a first language has afforded him many opportunities; he translated and wrote Villaraigosa’s remarks in Spanish, and he did outreach to Hispanic communities for the Galaxy.
Beltran was politically active throughout high school and college. But after graduating from the University of California at Santa Barbara, where he majored in political science and completed a few public relations internships, he was offered the Galaxy job. The self-professed soccer fan couldn’t pass it up.
He eventually returned to politics, and even found his wife along the way. Beltran met Stephanie Kotin during a stint with the Democratic National Committee, where he worked on the presidential campaign of Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass).
But before they wed, the couple made a pact to relocate to D.C., where they both wanted to live. Kotin secured a job first. She moved to Washington to work as a Senator’s legislative aide, forcing a long-distance relationship.
Luckily, Beltran snagged the job with Farr’s office a few months later.
And although he draws on his stint in sports in his current job, he admits that Congressmen are no easier to handle than soccer stars.
“You always have controversy, although it might be different,” Beltran said. “But representing an elected official is definitely harder, because there’s a lot more on the line.”
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