Boycotting social media may be an option for Luddites and curmudgeons but not for policy-oriented groups. “Nearly every company, trade association, and organization embraces it — it’s really noticeable if you’re not,” says John Goodwin, who was recently named a vice president at the Herald Group.
The former chief of staff for Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, has advised political actors on the “benefits and pitfalls” of social media since the mid-2000s, when Facebook was still confined to college campuses. The unregulated social-media space is, by and large, a boon for elected officials, he says, although ill-conceived tweets can be fatal.
“Social media is an unmonitored forum, where people share both the truth and lies”…. Overall, however, social media has probably made [political communications] a little easier. If you’re a congressional staffer, it makes information that you’re targeting to the Hill a lot easier to transmit.”
Goodwin, 34, grew up in Cranston, R.I., the son of a surveyor. After graduating from Marymount University in Arlington, Va., he worked for News Media Strategies and later the National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association and the National Marine Manufacturers Association. An avid hunter, Goodwin spent a number of years at the National Rifle Association.
Christopher Snow Hopkins
After learning from one of the masters about the nation’s debt problem, Vanessa Sinders is tackling the issue as the new chief of staff for the Campaign to Fix the Debt.
Sinders, 32, spent seven years working for Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., before his retirement in 2010. She served as an aide while Gregg was chairman of the Senate Budget Committee and had debt-reduction and deficit-elimination at the top of his agenda. Gregg is now one of three cochairmen of the Campaign to Fix the Debt.
“He is a very persuasive arguer on the need to do something about the debt and has a big role in our group and the discussion in general,” Sinders says. “It’s neat to come back and work with him again.”
The Campaign to Fix the Debt was founded by Erskine Bowles, a White House chief of staff in the Clinton administration, and former Sen. Alan Simpson, R-Wyo. The two chaired the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform that made recommendations for solving the nation’s fiscal problems in December 2010. In addition to Gregg, former Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, an independent, cochair the campaign.
Much of the group’s focus is on marshaling business leaders, government officials, and voters around the country to demand action on debt and fiscal problems. It has operations in 23 states in addition to Washington. The group doesn’t advocate a particular plan for resolving the fiscal mess, but it promotes core principles such as a gradual approach to fixing the debt and a bipartisan effort to address the budget.
“Being chief of staff means you’re involved in everything,” Sinders says. “It’s not just keeping the trains running on time,” but also taking part in policy discussions and making sure 100 staffers are all on the same page.
Sinders came to Washington in 2003 by way of Stow, Mass., Dartmouth College, and Chicago, where she spent a year working at a real-estate investment firm. She and a friend headed to the capital without jobs or housing, but networking landed her a meeting with Gregg’s Senate staff and a job as a legislative assistant. When Gregg became Budget Committee chairman in 2005, she moved to the panel staff and later returned to Gregg’s Senate office.
After the senator announced his plans to step down in 2010, Sinders moved to the office of Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., first as legislative assistant and then as chief of staff, until Brown’s loss in November.
Sinders says that as a Senate Budget Committee staffer, she had heard Maya MacGuineas, head of the Campaign to Fix the Debt and president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, testify a number of times and found herself agreeing with the message. So when MacGuineas and the campaign called her late last fall about coming on board, she readily said yes.
“After working on the Hill for 10 years, I see we need to find a way to help them reach a deal,” Sinders says.
AT THE BAR
At the end of the 112th Congress, Charles Clapton’s wife issued a directive. Migrating to the private sector “became an imperative,” says the former health policy director for the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. “It was no longer an option.”
As a partner in the health practice at Hogan Lovells, Clapton will advise clients on the implications of a law he adamantly opposed. Reflecting on the Wagnerian saga that accompanied passage of the Affordable Care Act, Clapton sees the health care law as the nadir of congressional comity.
“This may sound naive and Pollyannaish, but at the end of the day, Congress works best when you can actually reach bipartisan consensus,” insists the Republican stalwart. “That was one of the biggest problems with the health care law, and it’s going to continue to be a problem, because no Republican ever voted for or supported it. There will always be problems with something as big and comprehensive as this — it’s inevitable — but with the Affordable Care Act, Republicans are in a position to say, “˜Look, we told you so.’ “
Raised in Newton, Mass., Clapton earned a “super-useful, relevant liberal-arts degree” from Boston College and then spent two years as a paralegal in Boston before enrolling in law school at Catholic University. “I expected to return home [from Washington] after a year or two”…. That was now 17 years ago.”
He has since hopscotched around Capitol Hill, starting with the Senate Judiciary Committee before joining the office of then-Rep. Harris Fawell, R-Ill. Next, Clapton spent a number of years on the staff of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, followed by appointments in the office of then-Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., and the House Ways and Means Committee.
“This is one of the reasons I left the Hill,” he quips. “After driving seven members into retirement, I’m not sure who would have hired me”…. Eventually, you reach a point in your career where you know it’s time to go. I always told myself that, when it got to a point where the job wasn’t completely motivating me, it was time to try something new. There are so many other good staff who really want to be there. I saw, on more than a few occasions, staff who stayed too long — I didn’t want to be that person.”
The 44-year-old baseball fanatic, who remains loyal to Boston’s sports franchises, is indoctrinating his 4-year-old in the ways of Beantown. “The signal achievement of my adult life was getting my son to boo his grandmother, who’s a diehard Yankees fan.”
Last month, Anneke Green submitted what FishBowlDC — an online gossipmonger for the chattering classes — subsequently called the “ballsiest resignation letter we’ve ever seen.” In just three sentences, the 32-year-old lacerated her superiors.
“The Washington Times today is the most unprofessional and dishonest organization I have ever encountered,” wrote Green, then the newspaper’s deputy Op-Ed editor. “I can’t continue to spend the lion’s share of my professional time fighting unethical practices being pushed by top leaders in the company.”
A month later, Green has assumed a less truculent posture, declining to comment further on the editorial practices that prompted her to resign. Last week, the former aide in the speechwriting office of President George W. Bush was named a senior director at the White House Writers Group, a political consulting firm founded in 1993 by Clark S. Judge and Joshua Gilder, former speechwriters for President Reagan. Green is already engaged in matching editorials to suitable publications on behalf of the firm’s clients.
“You always have to ask yourself, “˜Who is the audience? Where would there be a natural fit in terms of raising awareness for an issue or advocating something?’ “ she says. “Each publication has its own interests or focus. For example, you wouldn’t try to place a piece on farming practices in The Wall Street Journal.”
The daughter of a retired naval officer, Green did not grow up in any one place and “appreciates the fact that, here in D.C., nobody is from here.” She received a degree in English from Asbury College (now Asbury University) in Wilmore, Ky., despite the admonitions of her friends. “I was told you couldn’t do anything with English, but I’d like to think that maybe I’ve proven that’s not the case.”
After graduating, she came to Washington as an aide to Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., following him to the whip’s office in 2003. After a stop in the George W. Bush White House, Green became a press liaison and speechwriter in the Health and Human Services Department’s Administration for Children and Families.
— the PBS miniseries about turn-of-the-century English gentry — is Green’s “guilty pleasure,” but she subsists on a diet of Charlotte Brontë and Edith Wharton, salted with nonfiction books about contemporary affairs.
IN THE TANKS
Maxmillian Angerholzer III
Longtime Washington sage David Abshire has turned over the reins of the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress to Maxmillian Angerholzer III — better known as Max — who has been involved with the center since his college days at the University of the South in the late 1990s.
Abshire, a former U.S. ambassador to NATO who cofounded the Center for Strategic and International Studies a half-century ago, remains vice chairman and counselor at the think tank on the presidency and Congress, but he is winding down some of his responsibilities as he turns 87 this year.
He didn’t have to look far for his successor as president and CEO. Angerholzer was in the center’s fellowship program as a college student, then became an intern in 2000, and has been on staff ever since. The Mobile, Ala., native says that Abshire, who hails from Tennessee, appreciated Angerholzer’s Southern roots and the fact that he studied at the University of the South in Sewanee, Tenn.
“Dave and I hit it off,” Angerholzer says. He says he sees his role, first and foremost, as carrying on what Abshire started in 1965. “This is an amazing opportunity to carry his legacy forward,” Angerholzer says. “There are not enough people like Dave Abshire in Washington.”
The center’s mission is to “promote leadership in the Presidency and the Congress to generate innovative solutions to current national challenges,” according to its website. Angerholzer says, “It’s an opportunity to help build consensus, with particular emphasis on the lessons of history.”
Bringing people together in today’s highly partisan climate is a difficult task, but Angerholzer notes that the hit movie Lincoln “reminds us we have had many uncivil periods in our history.”
The Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress has a small budget by Washington think-tank standards (around $2 million per year), but with power players such as former White House adviser David Gergen and former Comptroller General David Walker on its board, it has heavyweight influence, Angerholzer says. One example: The center was an instigator for the Iraq Study Group cochaired by former Secretary of State James Baker and former Rep. Lee Hamilton, D-Ind., that made recommendations in 2006 for resolving the conflict in Iraq.
Angerholzer, 35, had his first taste of Washington politics directly on the Senate floor when he was a doorkeeper in 1998 while a college intern for Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala. As an enforcer of the Senate’s rules of decorum, he once had to tell Surgeon General Everett Koop that he couldn’t lean forward on the railing of the visitors’ gallery.
Since joining the center 12 years ago, Angerholzer has branched out to other organizations, including some in which Abshire has played a role. He is a senior adviser to the grant-making Richard Lounsbery Foundation; the coordinator of the Trinity Roundtable run by Trinity Wall Street in New York City; and a senior adviser to Ridgewood Partners, an investment firm in Reston, Va.
In a move he describes as “bittersweet,” Ryan Long has left his post as chief counsel to House Energy and Commerce’s Health Subcommittee to join BGR Government Affairs, the lobbying firm founded in 1991 by Republican stalwarts Haley Barbour and Ed Rogers.
Long, a new vice president at BGR, says it was tough to leave the Energy and Commerce staff after more than five years with the Health Subcommittee and 15 years on Capitol Hill.
“I was not necessarily looking to leave,” says Long, 37. “But when BGR calls, and they have such respect and such luminaries “… it’s hard not to listen.”
Long was born in New Mexico and lived “all over the place” growing up, but he adopted North Carolina as his home state after graduating from the University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill). With his sights set on Washington, he went through a list of members he’d like to work for and ended up with an internship in the office of then-Rep. Charles Taylor, R-N.C. After graduation, Long landed on the staff of the late Rep. Charlie Norwood, R-Ga., in 1998.
Norwood was the cosponsor with Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., of a “patient bill of rights” that passed the House in 1999 but died in the Senate, and Long’s work on health care issues had begun. He moved to the office of Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, and spent five years there, including as legislative director in 2003 and 2004. He moved to the Energy and Commerce Committee staff after Barton became chairman.
While in Barton’s office, Long went to the Columbus School of Law at Catholic University in the evenings and earned his law degree in May 2005. A year later, he was named chief counsel on the Health Subcommittee.
The bitter partisan fight over health care reform was a frustrating experience for Republicans in the minority at the time, Long says, but things improved in 2011 and 2012 when members of both parties came together to pass food-safety and Food and Drug Administration reforms.