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"It turns out he's just spectacular at it," said Gonella, who is on the WJA board. "It could be that, as we all know, one of the skills that effective lobbyists and advocates have is an ability to take a complex set of issues and convey them in a way that different audiences can understand."
In addition to helping with the $18,000 yearly tuition for a student to attend the school, Gonella said he drops by for lunch sometimes and joins Thanksgiving and graduation celebrations.
K Street Connections
Scheibel's K Street connections have come in handy for those graduations. In 2010, for example, he helped recruit Attorney General Eric Holder as commencement speaker.
But his past life really made a difference on the Hill last week, as he helped his students navigate meetings in the Rayburn and Longworth House office buildings.
The students were pressing for a mock bill that would extend funding for public recreation centers. They argued that more rec centers would help keep kids and adults out of trouble and create jobs. "Less money you have to spend on jails," one student said.
Then another student asked: "Can we get your boss to support our bill?"
"You guys are very convincing," said one of the Congressional aides they met with. It was a white Republican woman who turned out to have something in common with the students, all African-Americans. Her family had experienced hard economic times, she told them, and she went to college on a basketball scholarship. The kids peppered her with questions about being a student athlete, juggling homework and practice.
Scheibel smiled. His two worlds connected, if only briefly, in an ornate hearing room under a sprawling chandelier in Longworth.
Earlier, Scheibel said he has no regrets about his peculiar path. "Next question, do I miss lobbying?" he said in an interview. "The answer would be yes."