Hill Climbers: Comedic Timing

Posted February 3, 2009 at 4:35pm

Working on Capitol Hill, you get to meet a lot of well-known people: important politicians, world leaders. But at least for Seth Scott, none of those could compare to meeting a certain sarcastic late-night comic.

[IMGCAP(1)]“I met the president and prime minister of Japan, and that was pretty cool,” Scott said. “But they don’t compare to Stephen Colbert.”

Scott’s big moment came when he was press secretary to Rep. Harry Mitchell (D-Ariz.). Colbert was filming a “Better Know a District” segment in 2007 in a Congressional office down the hall from Mitchell’s, and when Scott and his colleagues heard he was there, they grabbed a camera and insisted on getting a picture with Colbert.

“He was so important to Democrats during the Bush years,” Scott said. “He was how we got through the day.”

After working on Mitchell’s 2006 campaign, serving as his communications director from 2007 to 2008 and then managing his 2008 campaign, Scott decided in January to leave his job and head back to his home state of Arizona to take on a new professional challenge.

A graduate of the University of Arizona, Scott, 28, majored in journalism and political science.

He worked for the Center for American Progress from 2003 to 2004, and he was the communications director for now-Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano when she was governor of Arizona. He was a press secretary for the Arizona Democratic Party when he first met Mitchell but had known of him long before then.

Mitchell was the mayor of Scott’s hometown, Tempe, when his future employee was just a little boy.

“I remember being 10 and knowing who the mayor was, and it was Mitchell,” Scott said.

They developed a personal relationship when Mitchell was chairman of the state Democratic Party and Scott

was a press secretary. Scott gladly took the opportunity to work on the 2006 campaign, and has remained with Mitchell since.

Scott said he will miss the fast pace of the Hill, and being able to work in a Congressional office.

“If you’re doing a good job, you’re in a situation where you’re being challenged all the time,” he said.

One thing he will not miss, however, is being held up at the metal detectors in various office buildings. Scott said he often wears boots with metal shanks in the toes, which usually create a delay when he is rushing to get somewhere.

“Sometimes you get delayed by a minute, and sometimes you don’t have a minute to spare,” he said.

On a serious note, Scott said that leaving the Hill made him more fully appreciate the privilege of working there.

“Very few people get that opportunity and sometimes you don’t appreciate that,” he said.

Now that he is back in Arizona, Scott is focusing on starting a nonprofit organization. He isn’t sure of all of the specifics, but he said the purpose of the group will be focused on “what we need to do to create a vibrant and strong economy here in Arizona.”

Being an executive director of a nonprofit will be new for Scott, but he said he has a feeling his skills as a communications director will come into play.

“I’m sure I’ll be doing a lot of press,” he said.

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