Top Aide to House Appropriations Chairman Heading to K Street

Higdon: His last month on the Hill.
National Journal
Nov. 11, 2013, 4:26 p.m.

House Ap­pro­pri­ations Com­mit­tee Chair­man Har­old Ro­gers, R-Ky., will lose one of his closest aides next month when his chief of staff, Mi­chael Hig­don, joins the lob­by­ing world at Corner­stone Gov­ern­ment Af­fairs.

Hig­don, a mem­ber of Ro­gers’s staff for 11 years, will be­come a vice pres­id­ent at Corner­stone on Dec. 9. As a mem­ber of the firm’s budget and ap­pro­pri­ations team, Hig­don will help Corner­stone woo po­ten­tial cli­ents in Ken­tucky — while mak­ing it home in time to help care for his in­fant daugh­ter.

“My sleep­less nights on Ap­pro­pri­ations are now sleep­less nights with a baby,” he said.

Hig­don ac­know­ledged that “it has been tough sled­ding” for ap­pro­pri­at­ors in re­cent years as ar­gu­ments over the budget de­volved in­to a 16-day gov­ern­ment shut­down.

“But I don’t think the shut­down di­min­ished Chair­man Ro­gers’s role on the Ap­pro­pri­ations Com­mit­tee in any way,” he ar­gued. “In fact, I think it’s el­ev­at­ing the re­cog­ni­tion that [the pan­el] is the place where busi­ness can and should get done. It’s one of the few places where we’ve got to move ap­pro­pri­ations bills, where you’ve got to pass agency budgets, even when we find ourselves in these pro­trac­ted, in­transigent mo­ments. The Ap­pro­pri­ations Com­mit­tee couldn’t be more im­port­ant, try­ing to un­tangle that.”

Hig­don praised Ro­gers’s zeal for prun­ing the budget. One of the con­gress­man’s most “prized pos­ses­sions,” Hig­don said, is a 2011 is­sue of Na­tion­al Journ­al magazine in which he is pic­tured on the cov­er bran­dish­ing a pair of scis­sors.

In a state­ment, Ro­gers hailed his former aide. “For over a dec­ade, Mi­chael has served in my in­ner circle as a trus­ted friend, eru­dite lead­er, and thought­ful ad­viser on a wide spec­trum of polit­ic­al and policy is­sues be­fore the Con­gress,” said the 17-term con­gress­man.

Hig­don was raised in Vis­alia, a small town in Cali­for­nia’s San Joa­quin Val­ley. His fath­er coached the base­ball team and cut the grass at the church the fam­ily at­ten­ded. “I usu­ally de­scribe [the eth­os] as “˜every­body pitches in,’ “ Hig­don said.

His af­fin­ity for pub­lic policy mani­fes­ted it­self early on. When Hig­don was in sixth grade, his fa­vor­ite sub­ject was cur­rent events. He was elec­ted to stu­dent gov­ern­ment in high school, and by the time he was an un­der­gradu­ate at La­fay­ette Col­lege in Pennsylvania, Hig­don had already vo­lun­teered on a couple of state and fed­er­al cam­paigns.

Hig­don moved to Wash­ing­ton the day after his col­lege gradu­ation and worked briefly as an aide to then-Rep. Ron Pack­ard, R-Cal­if., a mem­ber of the Ap­pro­pri­ations Com­mit­tee, be­fore join­ing the of­fice of former Rep. Ro­s­coe Bart­lett, R-Md., and then Ro­gers’s staff in 2002. He be­came chief of staff in Janu­ary 2011.

He still has a month to go on Cap­it­ol Hill, but Hig­don already has some ideas about his strategy on K Street.

“If you want “¦ to achieve your policy ob­ject­ives, you’ve got to [ad­opt] a mul­ti­fa­ceted and asym­met­ric ap­proach,” he said. “You build co­ali­tions, you do PR when ne­ces­sary, you do it all.”

What We're Following See More »
Trump Inauguration Spending Now Under Investigation
2 hours ago

"Federal prosecutors in Manhattan are investigating whether President Trump’s 2017 inaugural committee misspent some of the record $107 million it raised from donations, people familiar with the matter said. The criminal probe by the Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office, which is in its early stages, also is examining whether some of the committee’s top donors gave money in exchange for access to the incoming Trump administration, policy concessions or to influence official administration positions."

Federal Judges Nix Proposed Atlantic Pipeline
4 hours ago

In a rare rebuke to energy companies in the Trump era, "a panel of federal judges has rejected permits for the Atlantic Coast natural gas pipeline to cross two national forests and the Appalachian trail in Virginia, finding that the national Forest Service 'abdicated its responsibility' and kowtowed to private industry in approving the project. The harshly worded, 60-page decision issued Thursday by three judges from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit is part of a string of legal setbacks for the 600-mile pipeline. The $7 billion project, being built by a consortium of companies led by Dominion Energy, is planned to carry natural gas from West Virginia, through Virginia and into North Carolina."

Senate Moves to End Support for Saudi War
5 hours ago
Federal Judge Upholds Ranked-Choice Voting in Maine
7 hours ago

"A federal judge on Thursday rejected Republican U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin’s constitutional claims against ranked-choice voting and denied the incumbent’s request for a new election against Democratic Congressman-elect Jared Golden. U.S. District Court Judge Lance Walker ruled that, contrary to the arguments of Poliquin’s legal team, the U.S. Constitution does not require that whichever congressional candidates receives the most votes—or 'a plurality'—be declared the winner. Instead, Walker ruled the Constitution grants states broad discretion to run elections."

Mueller Probing Middle East Countries' Influence Campaigns
7 hours ago

Officials working under Special Counsel Robert Mueller are investigating Middle Eastern countries' attempts to influence American politics, and are set to release the findings in early 2019. "Various witnesses affiliated with the Trump campaign have been questioned about their conversations with deeply connected individuals from the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Israel ... Topics in those meetings ranged from the use of social-media manipulation to help install Trump in the White House to the overthrow of the regime in Iran." Investigators are also probing meetings organized by Lebanese-American businessman George Nader, and Joel Zamel, "a self-styled Mark Zuckerberg of the national-security world with deep ties to Israeli intelligence."


Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.