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
Fawn Johnson
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Fawn Johnson
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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