HIGH WATTAGE. Former Rep. J.C. Watts, R-Okla., has been elected to the board of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, a think tank focused on issues for blacks and other people of color. Since deciding not to seek re-election after four terms in 2002, Watts has been chairman of J.C. Watts Companies, a diverse group of businesses. He also appears frequently as a TV commentator and writes a column for more than a dozen newspapers. Watts was the first black elected to the House GOP leadership when he became chairman of the House Republican Conference in 1998. A former quarterback at the University of Oklahoma, Watts was one of only two black Republicans in the House when he was first elected. "He is a noted thought leader on many of the issues that are at the heart of the Joint Center's mission, and we look forward to the perspectives and guidance he will bring to our work," said Roderick Gillum, chairman of the Joint Center's board of governors.
FOODIE. Erik Lieberman has been named regulatory counsel at the Food Marketing Institute, where he said he will play "a constructive role in the regulatory process, helping the administration craft rules and policies that are workable for the industry and not unnecessarily burdensome." Lieberman was most recently majority regulatory counsel to the House Small Business Committee, where he engaged a host of issues, ranging from food safety to data security to collaborations between small businesses and NASA. Before that, he was director of government affairs at the National Grocers Association from 2004 to 2007. Lieberman grew up in Venice, Fla. During his last semester as an undergraduate at the University of Florida, he interned with former Sen. Bob Graham, D-Fla. "It was crazy, it was during [President Bill Clinton's] impeachment trial," Lieberman recalls. "I remember I was delivering a document to the cloakroom one time, and I was trying to get it in before everything closed ... and I almost slammed into [former Chief Justice William Rehnquist] outside the chamber." Lieberman later joined Graham's staff as a legislative assistant. He holds a law degree from the University of Pennsylvania.
This article appears in the July 24, 2010, edition of National Journal Daily.