By Jackie Kucinich - 02/21/07 12:00 AM EST
Ted Van Der Meid, who has worked on Capitol Hill for more than 20 years, quietly moved out of then House Speaker Dennis Hastert’s (R-Ill.) office to take a job with Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) after the November elections.
However, Van Der Meid’s stay in the minority leader’s office is only temporary as the former chief counsel to Hastert is looking to leave Capitol Hill.
“I’ve spent my entire career on the Hill — this is a natural time for me to move on,” he said. “I’ve spoken to some people in the private sector and in the [Bush] administration; I’ve received a very positive response.”
Van Der Meid, who turned 50 on Monday, is a longtime insider known for his meticulous organizational skills. As other members of Hastert’s staff scattered to positions on and off the Hill, Van Der Meid was retained to assist Boehner’s office with the nuts and bolts of the Republican steering committee process and has assisted the office with other legal and administration issues.
“It’s about as inside baseball as you can get,” he said.
Boehner’s office confirmed that Van Der Meid is a temporary employee.
“He has remained on the leadership payroll for the time being to assist with transition duties for Speaker Hastert’s archival efforts,” a Boehner spokesman said, adding the minority leader has also retained an archivist.
As a legal adviser to Hastert, he was charged with reviewing paperwork that Hastert signed and serving as the Speaker’s liaison to legislative-branch agencies, in addition to a multitude of other tasks, giving him of the most diverse portfolios on Capitol Hill.
After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Van Der Meid was intimately involved in crafting the Continuity of Congress legislation that was passed into law in 2005, providing a plan for elections within 49 days should a disaster kill 100 members of Congress. If such a catastrophe had occurred, Van Der Meid would have been involved in relocating surviving members to safety.
Prior to joining the Speaker’s office, Van Der Meid was best known for his work on ethics issues as staff director of the ethics committee in the mid-1990s.
While at that post in 1995, he was in the unenviable position of protecting the House’s institutional integrity while the panel investigated allegations that former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) used tax-deductible contributions for political purposes and made inaccurate statements to investigators.
Some Democrats praised Van Der Meid for his non-partisan instincts.
Rep. Howard Berman (Calif.), the top Democrat on the ethics committee after the House vote to rebuke Gingrich, told The Hill in 2005, “I found Ted to be somebody I could work with. At least in my dealings, he operated on a nonpartisan basis and was amenable to working things out and moving ahead.”
Van Der Meid, known for his intelligence and fierce loyalty, was one of several of Hastert aides who were questioned by the ethics committee regarding the scandal involving former Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.) and male congressional pages.
In the ethics committee report on the page scandal, Van Der Meid was described as “the first red flag guy on anything” and was assigned matters having to do with the House page program in the Speaker’s office.
While the investigative subcommittee faulted Van Der Meid and other GOP staffers for failing to adequately respond to the initial e-mails Foley sent to the former pages, the committee concluded that no one involved in the scandal intentionally did anything wrong and opted not to punish anyone involved.
Asked if the Foley scandal has affected his search for employment off the Hill, Van Der Meid said the switch in House leadership provided a natural time for the transition off Capitol Hill.
“This is a time of a lot of transition,” he said.