Akin's new chief open about love for Jesus

Paul Protic loves Jesus and likes skydiving. He also is enjoying his new post as Rep. Todd Akin’s (R-Mo.), new chief of staff. He started the position last month.

Religion is one of the most important things in Protic’s life. “I’m a follower of Jesus Christ,” he said, “and what does he want of me but to act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly under God?”

This is far from Protic’s first tour of duty in the Capitol. He ran New Jersey Republican Chris Smith’s successful first reelection campaign in 1982, even though Democrats tagged Smith as their No. 1 target in the country. Then he worked for President Ronald Reagan as his special assistant at the Department of Health and Human Services from 1983 to 1985.

Protic then moved into a more religiously oriented career, working as the director of Capitol Hill ministry of the Campus Crusade for Christ at the organization’s Christian Embassy at the Capitol for 13 years. The group leads Bible studies for members. After leaving that job, Protic worked at the Christian Patrick Henry College in Virginia, where he was director of the government faculty’s apprenticeship program.

Protic and his wife, Caroline, have six children, all of whom range between 5 and 18.

When Protic is not working long hours for Akin or taking care of his half-dozen children, he’s praying and playing tennis. Protic is also an avid jogger. He took that to an extreme by running the entire 1981 Boston Marathon in four and a half hours.

Ways and Means’ chief economist gains seniority

When Alex Brill came to the Ways and Means Committee four years ago, there was no position of chief economist. The job was invented just for him.

Though he will hold onto his responsibilities as an economist, Brill, 31, will now serve as the new senior adviser to Chairman Bill Thomas (R-Calif.).

Before coming to the Hill, Brill worked for the Council of Economic Advisers at the White House and did tax-policy work for the American Enterprise Institute.

Born and raised in Boston, Brill’s undergraduate degree in economics is from Tufts University. He has a graduate degree in applied math from Boston University.

“I’ve been interested in policy ever since I was an undergraduate,” says Brill, who explained that he realized when he was working at the White House in 2001 that a lot of the implementation of ideas would more likely happen on Capitol Hill, which increased his desire to change jobs.

“This is one of the two most senior positions on the staff,” he said, trying to stay humble about the promotion. “I’m very excited. I’ve worked with Chairman Thomas for the past four years, but this role is spending a lot more time with him and with the other members of the committee.

“Up until now, I’d spend a lot of time on wonkier aspects. In the new role, it involves a lot of process management, managing issues through the legislative process, into committee, on the floor and into conference.”

On a personal note, Brill describes his wife, Johanna, as a supermodel. He quickly says she’s not really a supermodel but is as beautiful as one. At the moment, she is earning a doctoral degree in clinical psychology.

The couple has two small children: Rachel, 3, and Jonah, 1. “I guess it’s not proper to call them hobbies,” he says, “but they take up a lot of my life. When I’m not wrestling with the two of them, I like to cook a lot. If there were higher mountains around here, I’d be skiing a lot.”

Brill has not one single bad word to say about Thomas, who is known for his prickly personality.

“Well, I’m known for having a good sense of humor,” Brill says, laughing. “I can tell you that he is incredibly smart and incredibly hardworking. In those senses, he’s a lot of fun to work for. I think he and I get along very well. I don’t really want to talk about Bill Thomas’s personality.”