Skip to content

Cochran Shuffles Staff

Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) has made a number of moves in his personal office, hiring and promoting several staffers. Cochran’s move to the chairmanship of the Appropriations Committee from the Agriculture Committee has also led to some staff juggling.

Blake Thompson, 30, is the office’s new legislative director. Thompson holds a Ph.D. and master’s in pharmaceutical sciences from the Graduate School of the University of Mississippi, and a bachelor’s in the subject from the University of Mississippi’s School of Pharmacy. Thompson hails from Rienzi, Miss.

T.A. Hawks, 27, has been promoted to deputy legislative director from legislative assistant. He will help coordinate activities on the floor with the Appropriations Committee as well as assist with issues related to transportation, the Corps of Engineers and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Hawks has served on Cochran’s staff since August 2000, when he was brought on board as a legislative aide. Two years ago he was promoted to legislative assistant. A native of Hernando, Miss., Hawks graduated from the University of Tennessee in 2000 with a bachelor’s in history.

Brad Davis, 27, has moved to Cochran’s Washington office from a state office. He will serve as a legislative assistant. The Ripley, Miss., native holds a bachelor’s in business administration from the University of Mississippi School of Business and a law degree from UM’s School of Law.

West Higginbothom, 27, has moved into Cochran’s personal office after working for the Senator in the Agriculture Committee. He will now serve as the legislative assistant for agriculture issues.

In addition to Cochran, Higginbothom has worked for Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), then-Sen. Zell Miller (D-Ga.) and on the staff of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee. Higginbothom graduated from the University of Arkansas with a bachelor’s in finance and insurance, and he is a native of Marianna, Ark.

Marie Thomas, 26, will serve as a legislative assistant on issues related to tax, business, economic policy, energy and the work force. Thomas previously served as a legislative aide and deputy press secretary for the Senator.

The Jackson, Miss., native holds a bachelor’s in business from Mississippi State University and a master’s of business administration from the University of Queensland in Australia.

J. Brad Fuller, 22, has been hired as a legislative aide for issues related to agriculture and the Interior. Another MSU graduate, Fuller received a bachelor’s in agribusiness from the school in 2004. The Starkville, Miss., native previously served in the office as an intern.

Mary Cates Permenter, 24, has come on board as office manager and assistant to the chief of staff. She will be responsible for the office budget, FEC reports and overseeing the activities of the interns. A veteran of the Cochran office, Permenter has been on staff for two years. The University of Mississippi graduate holds a degree in political science. Permenter also hails from Ripley, Miss.

Augusta Wilson, 25, moves into Cochran’s office as a staff assistant after having served the Senator on the Agriculture Committee. Wilson, who hails from Jackson, Miss., graduated from Southern Methodist University with a bachelor’s in history in 2003.

Weezie Van Kirk, 23, takes over as legislative aide for issues related to taxes, business, economic policy, energy and the work force. Van Kirk has previously served as a staff assistant in the office and as a kindergarten teacher. The Gulfport, Miss., native also graduated from the University of Mississippi and holds a bachelor’s in elementary education.

Margaret Wicker, 25, takes over as deputy press secretary, but she will retain some of the legislative aide duties she held before her promotion. A graduate of the University of Virginia with a bachelor’s in English and Spanish, Wicker calls Tupelo, Miss., home.

Kathleen Hill, 40, comes over from the Agriculture Committee as an assistant scheduler. The Kountz, Texas, native attended Texas A&M University, where she received a bachelor’s in education.

Jenny Reeves Manley, 26, has been promoted from legislative assistant to press secretary for Cochran’s personal office and the Appropriations Committee. The Oxford, Miss., native attended school in the next town over, graduating from Mississippi State University with a degree in political science.

David McClendon, 28, has been brought on board as the health fellow for the Senator and will be responsible for handling all health-related issues. He is on leave from a residency at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. The Newton, Miss., native did his undergraduate work at Mississippi College, receiving a bachelor’s in chemistry.

Meredith Long, 24, has been hired as a legislative aide responsible for issues related to energy and water, transportation and Social Security. Hired a month ago, she previously served in the office of Rep. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) as a staff assistant. A native of Meridian, Miss., Long graduated from the University of Mississippi with a bachelor’s in journalism.

Recent Stories

Total eclipse of the Hart (and Russell buildings) — Congressional Hits and Misses

House plans to send Mayorkas impeachment articles to Senate on Tuesday

Harris sticks with Agriculture spending, Amodei likely to head DHS panel

Editor’s Note: What passes for normal in Congress

House approves surveillance authority reauthorization bill

White House rattles its saber with warnings to Iran, China about attacking US allies