Staff shuffles abound across energy, enviro committees

By Robin Bravender | 01/07/2015 07:07 AM EST

Droves of new staffers are moving into top jobs on energy and environmental committees, now that the 114th Congress is officially under way.

Droves of new staffers are moving into top jobs on energy and environmental committees, now that the 114th Congress is officially underway.

Incoming GOP committee leaders are staffing up in the Senate as they prepare to fight the Obama administration’s energy and environmental agenda, while leadership changes in the House are sparking further staff shakeups across Capitol Hill. Meanwhile, some former staffers are shifting to work for other lawmakers or leaving the legislative branch after their former bosses retired or lost their races or committee posts.

It’s a familiar shuffle that occurs at the start of each new Congress, and the new hires will be helping to set the tone on Capitol Hill this year when it comes to energy and environmental issues.


In the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Ryan Jackson will be taking over as staff director under incoming Chairman James Inhofe (R-Okla.) (E&E Daily, Dec. 16, 2014).

Dimitri Karakitsos will be staying on as EPW Republicans’ senior counsel, and Brittany Bolen will remain on staff as Republican counsel, according to Inhofe spokeswoman Donelle Harder. Karakitsos started on the EPW staff in 2009, when Inhofe was the top Republican, and he stayed on when Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) took over as ranking member in 2013. Bolen joined the committee in 2013.

Harder — an Inhofe communications aide since 2012 — will be the new EPW communications director. Harder said more staffing announcements will be made after Inhofe is elected chairman.

Major shakeups aren’t expected on EPW’s Democratic staff, where Bettina Poirier will remain staff director and chief counsel. Poirier has been a top aide to ranking member Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) since 2005.

On the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, the new chairwoman, Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), has added several new staffers to her roster. Colin Hayes, a former lobbyist with McBee Strategic Consulting, is the committee’s new deputy staff director. Michael Pawlowski, formerly Alaska’s deputy commissioner of revenue, was recently hired as an energy and natural resources adviser (E&ENews PM, Dec. 3, 2014).

Karen Billups is staying on as GOP staff director for the panel; she’s been on the committee’s staff since 2003.

Across the aisle, Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington is staffing up, now that she’s become the top Democrat on the ENR panel.

Cantwell has hired her former staffer Angela Becker-Dippman to return to Capitol Hill to become her staff director. Becker-Dippman has been working as a senior policy adviser in the energy and environment unit of the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Wash., and previously worked for McBee Strategic Consulting after a stint on Capitol Hill working on energy policy for Cantwell (E&ENews PM, Dec. 18, 2014).

House hires

Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) is bringing in new staff to the House Energy and Commerce Committee minority office as he takes over the top Democratic spot from retired California Democrat Henry Waxman.

Many of Waxman’s former staffers — including several longtime aides — have left their posts, and Pallone has begun to fill their slots.

Jeffrey Carroll is the new Democratic staff director, and Tiffany Guarascio has been appointed deputy staff director. Carroll is a longtime Pallone aide who has been chief of staff in the New Jersey Democrat’s personal office. Guarascio has been working as legislative director in Pallone’s office.

Timothy Robinson, who’s been working as senior policy counsel and legislative director for Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.), is the new chief counsel for Energy and Commerce Committee Democrats. Ashley Jones has been hired as director of outreach and member services; she was previously chief of staff to former Rep. John Barrow (D-Ga.), who lost his 2014 re-election bid.

Michael Goo and Jacqueline Cohen have been heading up the panel’s energy and environmental work in recent months, but Democratic staffing for the Energy and Power Subcommittee and the Environment and Economy Subcommittee is still being worked out. Goo was a longtime congressional staffer before working at U.S. EPA and DOE during the Obama administration; he returned to the Energy and Commerce Committee in July. Cohen is a longtime Waxman staffer.

The Energy and Commerce Committee Republican roster working under staff director Gary Andres is expected to remain largely the same this year. The panel, led by Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.), promoted Karen Christian to become its top lawyer in October and hired former Boeing executive Charles Ingebretson to be the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee’s chief counsel (Greenwire, Oct. 10, 2014).

Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) will remain chairman of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee this year, but the panel is still seeing some staff changes.

Two new staffers have been hired from the Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Molly Boyl is the Science panel’s new deputy general counsel and parliamentarian, which was also her role on the oversight committee under former Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.). And Mark Marin, former deputy staff director for oversight under Issa, is now the Science Committee’s staff director for the Energy and Environment subcommittees.

Todd Johnston, who has been Republican staff director for the Environment Subcommittee, is expected to soon leave the committee. Stephen Sayle, previously staff director for the Energy Subcommittee, has already left the committee.

The new Oversight and Government Reform chairman, Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), announced a new spate of staffers last month. Former Podesta Group principal Sean McLaughlin is the committee’s staff director; former Chaffetz senior adviser Rachel Weaver is the new deputy staff director. Andrew Dockham is the new general counsel, joining the panel from the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. Steve Castor is the new deputy general counsel for oversight and investigations, and Ryan Little is the committee’s operations director (E&ENews PM, Dec. 2, 2014).

Incoming House Natural Resources Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah) has also shaken up staffing on the panel that oversees federal lands, wildlife and fisheries. Bishop announced in late November that he had hired committee veterans Jason Knox as staff director and Todd Ungerecht as deputy staff director.

Bishop appears to have cleaned house, as at least 11 staffers have departed from the panel. The staffers who have left include former Chairman Doc Hastings’ (R-Wash.) staff director, Todd Young; Tim Charters, who was staff director for the Energy and Mineral Resources Subcommittee; Amanda Tharpe, who handled onshore energy development on the EMR Subcommittee; and several others (E&E Daily, Jan. 6).