It’s been a long six months for “Jon,” the unemployed chief of staff profiled in Roll Call in March. After nearly 20 years on Capitol Hill, Jon found himself without a job after his boss lost a tough re-election in November. Though he had many connections and years of experience, he wasn’t sure what his next move would be.
But nearly five months after receiving his last paycheck, Jon is back at work this week. He’s landed a political appointment and will be serving as a special assistant at an executive branch agency. The salary is a bit higher than the $130,000 he was making as a House chief of staff. “It’s a GS-15 pay rate, the highest of the GS,” he told CQ Roll Call by phone, referring to the executive branch pay scale.
But for Jon, landing the job was still harder than expected. The White House Presidential Personnel Office reached out to him in January, as it did for many displaced Democratic staffers. He had an interview around the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend, then heard nothing until March, when he was given an offer.
But for more than two months, Jon waited patiently for his "record check" to go through so he could start work. “It's insane and a little bit disconcerting they would take that long," he said. "There is not that much on me. I've never been arrested. I’m probably pretty boring. It could be that I was at the bottom of the pile and it took awhile."
Jon's initial goal had been to be employed by April. Instead, he waited until mid-June to begin, though he said he enjoyed his time off. “I continued to do what I said I was going to do: Get in shape, rest, catch up on personal stuff." He's still dating the same woman he mentioned in March, and describes the relationship as going well.
“I actually get concerned about being unemployed for so long," he said. "I'm ready to get back and I’m nervous and apprehensive about doing something completely different.”
But Capitol Hill is still on his mind. During our conversation, he spoke excitedly of being in final negotiations for a job on Capitol Hill, one with a home-state connection for him. He’d consider leaving his brand new agency job for the opportunity. Even after 20 years on Capitol Hill, the lure remains strong.
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