Meet the Energy and Commerce Committee’s Minority Staff

The Energy and Commerce Democratic Committee staff, from left, Tim Robinson, Tiffany Guarascio, Ashley Jones and Jeff Carroll.
National Journal
July 22, 2015, 5:30 p.m.

Jeff Car­roll, Minor­ity Staff Dir­ect­or

Car­roll is a New Jer­sey guy. He has spent al­most 20 years as an aide on Cap­it­ol Hill, all of them work­ing for mem­bers from his home state. He ac­tu­ally star­ted on the Hill as an in­tern at age 19 and says he “nev­er left,” ex­cept to fin­ish his bach­el­or’s de­gree from George Wash­ing­ton Uni­versity. Most of his ca­reer has been with Rep. Frank Pal­lone, now rank­ing mem­ber of the En­ergy and Com­merce Com­mit­tee. Car­roll’s first con­gres­sion­al job was with former Rep. Robert Tor­ri­celli. Car­roll joined Pal­lone’s staff when Tor­ri­celli was elec­ted to the Sen­ate in 1996. Car­roll was Pal­lone’s per­son­al chief of staff for 12 years be­fore be­com­ing the top Demo­crat­ic com­mit­tee aide this year.

Car­roll is re­spons­ible for co­ordin­at­ing the com­mit­tee agenda on the Demo­crat­ic side, where mem­bers can range from fiercely lib­er­al to fiercely mod­er­ate. He fol­lows Pal­lone’s rule that con­tro­ver­sial items from either end of the polit­ic­al spec­trum shouldn’t dom­in­ate the con­ver­sa­tion. At the staff level, Car­roll owns Pal­lone’s man­date that Demo­crats and Re­pub­lic­ans should work to­geth­er. “Ma­jor­ity and minor­ity staff can dis­agree without be­ing dis­agree­able,” he says. He is par­tic­u­larly proud of the bi­par­tis­an work already ac­com­plished on the com­mit­tee on med­ic­al in­nov­a­tion, chem­ic­al safety, and In­ter­net do­main names. He hopes to add an en­ergy bill to that list soon.

Car­roll is also pas­sion­ate about his alma ma­ter. He has held sea­son tick­ets to GW bas­ket­ball games for al­most 20 years and rarely misses a home game. He says he loves bring­ing his chil­dren “and mak­ing them part of the Co­lo­ni­al Army.”

Tiffany Guar­as­cio, Minor­ity Deputy Staff Dir­ect­or and Chief Health Ad­viser

Guar­as­cio is known on the Hill for her “col­or­ful lan­guage.” Her col­leagues joke that she may be short in stature but “she packs a punch.” But she says most people don’t know that she also has “ser­i­ous hula-hoop­ing skills.” Not many people have hula-hooped for five minutes straight on the White House lawn, which was Guar­as­cio’s feat at this year’s con­gres­sion­al pic­nic.

Work­ing in the Cap­it­ol was Guar­as­cio’s dream since she was a child. Like Car­roll, she has spent the bulk of her con­gres­sion­al aide ca­reer with Pal­lone. She has also worked briefly for former New York rep­res­ent­at­ives Maurice Hinchey and An­thony Wein­er. Her ten­ure with Pal­lone hit 11 years this year. “He’s a great boss, one of the hard­est-work­ing mem­bers of Con­gress, and he makes you want to work hard for him,” she says.

Like Pal­lone, Guar­as­cio’s policy chops are rooted in health care. Pal­lone led the health sub­com­mit­tee for many years and was a ma­jor play­er in writ­ing the Af­ford­able Care Act, which Guar­as­cio counts as a ca­reer high point; Pal­lone also is a staunch de­fend­er of the Chil­dren’s Health In­sur­ance Pro­gram, in­sist­ing this year that it be in­cluded in a fast-mov­ing bill to re­peal out­dated Medi­care re­im­burse­ment rates. Guar­as­cio has a bach­el­or’s de­gree from George Wash­ing­ton Uni­versity.

Tim Robin­son, Minor­ity Chief Coun­sel

Robin­son came to the com­mit­tee this year after spend­ing al­most six years work­ing for Rep. Bobby Rush, the next highest-rank­ing Demo­crat on the pan­el after Pal­lone. Robin­son over­sees the com­mit­tee’s leg­al mat­ters and en­sures that pro­ced­ures are con­duc­ted cor­rectly. “There is a real sense of his­tory and tra­di­tion here at En­ergy and Com­merce. It is the House’s old­est com­mit­tee with the broad­est jur­is­dic­tion. I feel a re­spons­ib­il­ity to en­sure that that leg­acy is up­held,” he says.

Robin­son be­came in­ter­ested in polit­ics at an early age, fas­cin­ated by the in­ter­ac­tions of Con­gress and the Su­preme Court. Still, it took him a while to ac­tu­ally get to Cap­it­ol Hill. He has worked in the private sec­tor as an at­tor­ney and a lob­by­ist, and in both the fed­er­al and loc­al gov­ern­ments. He is a former gen­er­al coun­sel for the D.C. Pub­lic Ser­vice Com­mis­sion and also served at the Com­merce De­part­ment. When it comes to Con­gress, he says he is in awe at “the im­mense amount of work that’s needed to write a good law or con­duct ef­fect­ive over­sight.”

Robin­son hopes the con­geni­al ne­go­ti­ations that have been the com­mit­tee’s prac­tice this year will con­tin­ue un­til its work be­comes law. “I’d hope, even chal­lenge mem­bers and staff, with a big na­tion­al elec­tion ap­proach­ing, to keep cool heads and im­prove upon our com­mit­tee’s early pro­gress,” he says.

He’s also in­to sports. He prac­tices mar­tial arts and at­tends lots of pro­fes­sion­al and col­lege sport­ing events. He has a bach­el­or’s de­gree from Brown Uni­versity and a law de­gree from the Uni­versity of Vir­gin­ia School of Law.

Ash­ley Jones, Minor­ity Dir­ect­or of Com­mu­nic­a­tions, Out­reach, and Mem­ber Ser­vices

Jones is new to the com­mit­tee this year, bring­ing a South­ern gen­til­ity to com­ple­ment the North­ern and Mid­west­ern nat­ives who largely pop­u­late Pal­lone’s staff. She grew up in Geor­gia and spent 10 years as an aide to former Rep. John Bar­row. She helped Bar­row, a mod­er­ate Demo­crat, re­peatedly win his seat in a largely Re­pub­lic­an dis­trict, and she be­came Bar­row’s chief of staff in 2007 while she was still in her 20s. “Be­ing a chief of staff at such a young age and win­ning elec­tions that no one thought you could win is pretty ex­hil­ar­at­ing,” she says.

But Re­pub­lic­ans fi­nally caught their white whale last year when they ous­ted Bar­row in his reelec­tion bid, so Jones is tack­ling new chal­lenges. She was brought to the com­mit­tee to help de­vel­op Demo­crats’ mes­sage and man­age the broad range of con­stitu­ency groups that are im­pacted by its work. “I feel like I am the ad­voc­ate-in-chief,” she says. “Mr. Pal­lone feels strongly about mak­ing sure all the mem­bers of our caucus have their voices heard.”

Jones loves to travel. She is well on her way to vis­it­ing all sev­en con­tin­ents. “Aus­tralia is up next and then Ant­arc­tica. I went to Africa on my hon­ey­moon,” she says. She has a bach­el­or’s de­gree from the Uni­versity of Geor­gia.

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