By Kate Oczypok - 03/31/09 05:08 PM EDT
Get to Know the Office — The investigation team for Republicans on Oversight and Government Reform
The investigation team, which can be classified as its very own Mod Squad, includes a diverse group looking to spread the Republican message.
Kristina Moore, minority senior counsel: Moore enjoys the ability to influence policy on a high level, saying that her office is part of the national dialogue.
She previously was employed as an environmental attorney for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers.
The best advice she received about her career was to network. “In reality, Washington, D.C., is a small town and it is essential to have friends and associates both on and off the Hill,” she said.
Moore names Alexander Hamilton as her idol, as he is her favorite Founding Father.
Howie Denis, minority senior counsel: Denis enjoys attending hearings as minority senior counsel. The best advice he’s received is to always remember the three-hour time difference between California and D.C.
His idol is Cal Ripken Jr., because the “Iron Man” played a record 2,632 consecutive Major League Baseball games with the Baltimore Orioles from 1982 through 1998.
Daniel Epstein, minority counsel: Epstein enjoys using his legal training to help the ranking member and his staff. “We research, examine and investigate acts of waste, fraud and abuse that are crippling the effectiveness of government and disenfranchising American citizens in the process,” he said.
Before working on the investigations team, Epstein was an associate in legal reform at the Koch Foundation, working together with Koch Industries Inc.’s assistant general counsel. “The job was an interesting mixture of corporate culture with an emphasis on social change — I miss that synergy,” he said.
Mitch Kominsky, minority counsel: Kominsky enjoys the unpredictability of each day as minority counsel.
“There is always a new issue to explore, a new person to meet or a new discussion to be held,” he said.
Before coming to Congress, Kominsky practiced federal appellate law at the D.C. office of a Florida-based law firm.
The best advice Kominsky’s received about his job is: “In a fight between Batman and Darth Vader, the winner would be Chuck Norris. Case in point: When you are in Congress, or talking about Chuck Norris, don’t assume anything.”
If he were in another career besides politics, Kominsky would love to open up a restaurant in D.C. “Also, although I may be past my athletic prime, the Washington Wizards could probably use some help at the small forward position. Can anyone get me a tryout?”
Marvin Kaplan, minority counsel: Kaplan said protecting the public from wasteful government spending is his favorite part of his position. He used to work for the Department of Labor, and really misses the free coffee.
The best advice he’s received is to keep staff reports around 25 pages.
His idol is Nikola Tesla, the inventor of alternating-current electrical power. “Although his theories were unpopular, he never gave up and in the end became the man who invented the 20th century,” he said.
Alex Cooper, minority professional staff member: Cooper likes the sense of teamwork his staff has. “This is a serious place, and everyone here is busy, but everyone is willing to chip in on everything,” he said.
Before joining Congress, Cooper was at the College of Charleston. “I miss a lot of things about college, but I grew up in D.C., so this is home for me,” he said.
Cooper wishes to go back to school for a law degree or a J.D./M.B.A. someday, but for now he is happy to be fascinated by his job on Capitol Hill.
His idol is his grandfather, as he grew up during the Depression, fought in the Battle of the Bulge in World War II and knows the value of a hard day’s work. “He loves this country more than anyone I know,” he said. “I think knowing him makes me realize what so many people have given and sacrificed to see to it that this country has the opportunities it does.”
Mark Marin, minority professional staff member: The best part about Marin’s job, he says, is his involvement with the committee’s investigations and hearings on the financial crisis. Marin joined the staff in August before working for two lobbying firms, Lewis-Burke Associates and Collins & Co.
If Marin weren’t in politics, he admits he’s always had a secret wish to teach government and history to high-schoolers. His idol is Elie Wiesel. “I spent an afternoon with him when I was 16, and I’ve never forgotten his appeal for us to not stand idly by, no matter what the situation.”
Brian Beattie, minority professional staff member: Beattie loves that he can wake up every day, come to work and feel like he is actually doing something tangible to “fight the good fight and stop America’s slide into European market socialism under the Democrats.”
Before he attended grad school, he worked for the committee for then-Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.) from 2003-2006.
Beattie’s idol is Ronald Reagan, because, he said, Reagan advanced an agenda of equal opportunity, freedom and prosperity for everyone. “It was regardless of race, religion or creed, because he believed in the innate common sense of the average American and not in the received wisdom of the bureaucratic state,” he said.
Steve Castor, minority senior counsel: Castor enjoys taking depositions as senior counsel. Before he started at the committee, he was a member of a law firm.
The best advice he’s received about his job is to not be athletic about everything, and as far as his idol, he said idolatry is bad.
Jonathan Skladany, counsel: “I really enjoy being exposed to really smart people on a daily basis,” Skladany said.
Before joining the committee, Skladany worked for the Washington Baseball Club, a group that worked with the mayor and City Council to attract Major League Baseball to relocate the Montreal Expos to D.C. “I miss afternoon games at RFK being considered work-related,” he said.
As far as advice, Skladany has been told that if he hopes to get a pretzel from the Ford carryout, arrive no later than 2 p.m.
Skladany’s idol is Oscar Maier, who he said is a World War II hero, business leader and an amazing grandfather.
Others at the committee include: Jennifer Safavian, minority chief counsel for oversight and investigations; Thomas Alexander and Christopher Hixon, minority senior counsels; Ashley Callen and Chapin Fay, minority counsels; Meredith Liberty, John Ohly and Molly Boyl, minority professional staff members; and Dr. Christopher Bright, minority senior professional staff member.
HOUSE REPUBLICANS ON OVERSIGHT AND GOVERNMENT REFORM WELCOME NEW DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY: Republicans on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee have brought on Seamus Kraft as their deputy press secretary. Kraft is putting a lot of effort into new-media projects such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. Prior to joining ranking member Darrell Issa’s (R-Calif.) staff, Seamus was chief speechwriter for the International Trade Association. He graduated from Georgetown in 2007.
COUNSEL MOVES ON TO ALEXANDRIA LAW FIRM: Daniel Fisher, a counsel to the Judiciary Committee, recently moved on to become a legislative associate in the Alexandria law firm of Obadal, Filler, MacLeod and Klein PLC. His primary role will be to serve as director of government affairs and associate counsel to the Associated Equipment Distributors.
FORMER EPA EMPLOYEE JOINS BARNES AND THORNBURG LLP: Susan Parker Bodine, former assistant administrator of EPA’s Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response, is joining Barnes and Thornburg LLP’s Washington office. Beginning March 30, she will be a partner in the firm’s Environment Law Department.
In her role at the EPA, Bodine managed 600 employees and an annual budget of more than $1.3 billion to administer EPA’s programs related to the cleanup and prevention of hazardous substance releases. Barnes and Thornburg is well-known nationally for its Clean Water Act practice.
• Rep. Chris Lee (R-N.Y.) — April 1, 1964 — age 45
• Rep. Paul Kanjorski (D-Pa.) — April 2, 1937 — age 72
• Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) — April 2, 1955 — age 54
• Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga.) — April 2, 1950 — age 59
• Rep. Pete King (R-N.Y.) — April 5, 1944 — age 65
• Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) — April 6, 1956 — age 53
• Rep. Joe Courtney (D-Conn.) — April 6, 1953 — age 56
• Rep. Tim Walz (D-Minn.) — April 6, 1964 — age 45
• Rep. Robert Brady (D-Pa.) — April 7, 1945 — age 64