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Thursday, March 05, 2015

David McCallum

Deputy Chief of Staff

Senate Majority Leader

McCallum’s life isn’t exactly a story of outhouse to penthouse, but it’s close. It’s a story of chicken coop to Reid’s inner circle. McCallum, 57, was born in South Elgin, Ill., and was raised for several years in a chicken coop converted into a duplex. His parents bathed him and his two younger brothers in a shared washtub situated between both units. McCallum now supervises the payroll and all administrative and personnel needs for Reid’s staff, the Democratic caucus, and the Democratic Policy Committee—some 150 people and a budget of $10.5 million. He’s also Reid’s expert on ethics compliance and on financial-disclosure requirements. “All ethics questions come to me,” McCallum said. After graduating from the University of Louisville with a bachelor’s in philosophy, McCallum moved to New Orleans to work for District Attorney Harry Connick, father of jazz superstar Harry Connick Jr., as a software specialist. Connick backed Democratic Rep. John Breaux’s bid for the U.S. Senate in 1986 and when Breaux won, McCallum followed him to Capitol Hill, eventually joining Breaux’s staff at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee when he was chairman in 1988. After a foray in the private sector, McCallum returned to the Hill in 1996 to work for Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., and two years later joined the staff of then-Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, D-N.Y. And two years after that, Reid swooped in to add McCallum to his staff; Moynihan and Reid shared him from October to December of 2000. McCallum, married with a 12-year-old son, has worked for Reid ever since. McCallum says he abandoned philosophy after college because he “wanted to do things, rather than think about things.” He’s been doing things in the Senate for 25 years—a long way from a communal washtub in a converted chicken coop.


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