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After 14 years in various staff roles, most recently as the chief of staff to for House Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers, R-Ky., Michael R. Higdon will now use his Kentucky ties as a vice president at Cornerstone Government Affairs.
“Cornerstone and I are motivated to expand their footprint in the Bluegrass, so I’ll be leading that initiative,” Higdon said, adding that he awaits the opportunity to build value for Kentucky enterprises.
As part of the firm’s appropriations and budget team, Higdon, who started on Monday, will focus on energy, defense, homeland security and transportation issues. His more than a decade of experience in Bluegrass State matters will be utilized to develop future business.
“Those who know Michael recognize his thoughtful analysis and honest brokering,” Cornerstone Managing Partner and President Geoff Gonella said in a statement announcing Higdon’s hire. “His close relationship with key policymakers, familiarity with D.C.’s political landscape, and a strong pulse on Kentucky issues gives us a great advantage expanding our reach both inside and outside the beltway.”
The California native first arrived on the East Coast in 1995. He studied government and law at Lafayette College in Easton, Pa.
Wasting no time, he moved to Washington, D.C., the day after graduating to work for Rep. Ronald C. Packard, R-Calif.
After Packard retired, Higdon signed on with Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Md., as a legislative assistant and systems administrator in early 2001. He left Bartlett’s office the following year for the chance to work on appropriations matters for Rogers.
“The draw was being in a place that we were immediately effecting change. Appropriators are, by nature, doers. Effecting policy on an annual basis and influencing budget decisions was extremely motivating to me,” Higdon said.
Rogers has served on the Appropriations Committee since 1986, advancing to the chairman’s position when Republicans regained the House majority after the 2010 elections.
Among his more high-profile assignments, Higdon supported Rogers as a lead appropriations aide and staff designee to the Select Bipartisan Committee to Investigate the Preparation for and Response to Hurricane Katrina.
The following year, Rogers became chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security, where he oversaw the funding of the Department of Homeland Security. Higdon has also served Rogers as lead staffer on a host of other spending subcommittees.
Higdon took over as Rogers’ personal chief of staff in January 2011, after assisting the Kentucky Republican with his successful chairmanship bid, spending the next nearly three years as Rogers’ primary adviser on policy, press and political matters.