McConnell’s Magic

Posted January 24, 2003 at 2:28pm

Senate Majority Whip Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) makes some changes to his personal staff this month.

Former Senior Legislative Assistant and Appropriations Coordinator Billy Piper takes over as chief of staff.

The McConnell veteran has also served a stint as political and finance director for the senior Senator from Kentucky’s 1996 re-election bid. He replaces Kyle Simmons, who has assumed the same position in the whip office. (For more information on the whip staff see Climbers, Jan. 16, 2003.)

Piper, 34, holds a bachelor’s from the University of Richmond and hails from Louisville, Ky.

New Legal Counsel Leon Sequeira arrives from the Senate Rules and Administration Committee, where he was also counsel and focused on election and campaign finance reform. He replaces John Abegg, now legal counsel for the Whip’s office.

The Show Me State native earned his law degree from George Washington University.

After working on McConnell’s 2002 re-election campaign, Laura Haney returns to the Hill as his office manager.

The Heritage Foundation’s former deputy director for Senate relations and one-time agriculture aide to McConnell earned a bachelor’s from the University of Kentucky’s College of Agriculture.

She hails from Nancy, Ky.

Former Legislative Aide Robert Karem, 25, gets the nod to become legislative assistant with a focus on foreign affairs, security, trade and energy issues.

The 2000 Columbia University political science grad is a native of Lexington, Ky.

Legislative aide for environmental, energy and transportation issues Brytt Brooks becomes projects director.

The 24-year-old Brooks, who hails from Morgantown, Ky., earned a 2000 bachelor’s in business management and political science from Grove City College.

Hugh Farrish, legislative correspondent for labor and judiciary issues, comes to the office from the Rules and Administration Committee, where he was staff assistant.

Farrish, also 24, holds a 2000 bachelor’s in history from Washington and Lee University.

He is from Portland, Ore.

Finally, former Special Assistant Mike Liptak moves up a notch to legislative correspondent covering defense, military and trade issues.

The one-time admissions counselor at Grove City College received a bachelor’s in communications from that institution.

Liptak, 25, hails from Sharon, Pa.

Pro Tem Posse. Three longtime staffers for Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) have been promoted to new duties in the President Pro Tem’s Office.

Jennifer Mies, a member of Stevens’ scheduling office, assumes the position of director of the office of President Pro Tem affairs.

The Keystone State native holds a 1998 bachelor’s in international politics from Pennsylvania State University.

Stevens’ deputy staff director on the Appropriations Committee, Lisa Sutherland, will add senior adviser in the the President Pro Tem’s office to her current title.

The longtime Stevens aide has also served as chief of staff and legislative director. She first came to the office of the senior Senator from Alaska in 1977 as an intern.

After graduating from Drake University, Sutherland joined Stevens’ office as a legislative correspondent, leaving to earn a law degree from the University of Washington School of Law, then returning as legislative assistant.

James Hayes, professional staffer on the Appropriations subcommittee on Transportation, also expands his portfolio this month, becoming special adviser in the President Pro Tem’s office.

A lifelong native of the Last Frontier, Hayes attended the University of Alaska, working in Stevens’ Fairbanks office as staff assistant. In 1999, he made the multi-time-zone leap to Stevens’ Washington operation and is now enrolled at the American University’s Washington College of Law.

Communicating for Capps. Brigid O’Brien — then-communications director for then-Rep. Tom Barrett (D-Wis.) — arrives in the office of Rep. Lois Capps (D-Calif.) as press secretary. She replaces Marla Viorst, who has joined Hill and Knowlton as vice president of public affairs.

O’Brien also served as communications director for Barrett’s unsuccessful 2002 Badger State gubernatorial bid.

Her previous Hill experience includes stints as senior legislative assistant to Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) and as staff assistant to Rep. Jerry Kleczka (D-Wis.).

O’Brien holds a bachelor’s in journalism from the University of Wisconsin.