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California Girl (and Three Guys)

Over the past summer, Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.) revamped her Washington, D.C., office by adding a fresh batch of new staffers.

Heading up the list of new hires is the Congresswoman’s new chief of staff, Michael Torra, who has worked for two of Sanchez’s colleagues on the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Reps. Silvestre Reyes (D-Texas) and Grace Napolitano (D-Calif.), the caucus’ chairwoman. Torra is originally from Pasadena, Calif., and he is a 1996 graduate of Occidental College and finished up at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University in 1998. [IMGCAP(1)]

Sanchez has also made two new additions to her legislative staff. The first is John Brodtke, a new legislative assistant who last worked for Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-Calif.). He will handle issues pertaining to transportation, trade and health for Sanchez. Brodtke, a 1999 graduate of the University of Wisconsin at Madison, volunteered for the Peace Corps in Gabon before being summoned to Capitol Hill. He also taught in the Richmond, Calif., public school system. Brodtke hails from Manitowoc, Wis.

The other new legislative assistant, Rachel Estrada, is a former member of Sanchez’s team whose work with education, women’s issues, homeland security and defense is coupled with her responsibilities as legislative correspondent. Prior to rejoining Sanchez’s office,

Estrada worked as the public affairs coordinator in the Washington, D.C., office of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund. A native of Eagle Rock, Calif., she is a 2004 graduate of the University of Michigan.

In the press department, Sanchez has tapped Frank Benenati, a 2005 graduate of American University, as her new staff/press assistant. Benenati joins Sanchez’s press office after wrapping up a year-long internship during which he served in the House Rules Committee as press assistant to then-Rep. Chris Bell (D-Texas). Benenati worked at ABC news prior to his arrival on Capitol Hill. He is a native of Allendale, N.J.

Sanchez said she is pleased with the new additions to her office. “I am very excited to have a dynamic and up-and-coming staff,” she said. “I look forward to finishing the year strong.”

Johnson L.A. Moves Off the Reservation. Danna Jackson, legislative assistant to Sen. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.), has joined Akin Gump Stauss Hauer and Feld as policy counsel for its Washington, D.C.-based American Indian law and policy practice.

As legislative assistant, Jackson advised the Senator on issues pertaining to his participation on the Indian Affairs and Judiciary committees. In this capacity, she oversaw the appropriations process for all tribal appropriation projects. Her fingerprints can be found on several important pieces of legislation concerning the issues of tax exempt bonding, housing, transportation, natural resources and economic initiatives on Indian reservations.

A lawyer by trade, Jackson was in private practice in Great Falls, Mont., before moving to Washington, D.C., where she served as an attorney with the National Indian Gaming Commission.

In 2004, Jackson advised the Kerry-Edwards campaign on American Indian policy issues. During the campaign she was active in get-out-the-vote efforts targeting American Indian populations on the state and national level.

Jackson was educated at the University of Montana, where she received her bachelor’s in 1993 and her J.D. in 1996. While at the University of Montana, she was a member of the Native American Law Student Association and the American Trial Lawyers association trial team.