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Lott Expands His Lot by One

Nick Simpson, 24, has been named national press secretary for Senate Minority Whip Trent Lott (R-Miss.). [IMGCAP(1)]

“Nick is an asset in my Washington office, an outstanding communicator who brings hands-on experience to the national press secretary’s position,” Lott said in a statement. “I value his counsel and enthusiasm and look forward to working with him in this new, challenging position.”

Simpson previously served as deputy press secretary for Lott since 2005. Prior to that role, he worked as a reporter for Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal in 2004.

A 2004 graduate in political science and journalism from the University of Mississippi, Simpson is from Wiggins, Miss.

Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper. Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.) has a new communications director in John Spragens, 24.

Spragens, a legislative assistant in the office since 2006, will now act as the office’s top communicator in addition to retaining his legislative assistant responsibilities.

Prior to joining Cooper’s office, Spragens worked as a staff writer for the Nashville Scene from 2004 to 2006. While in college, he also freelanced for the publication.

“As an [alternative] weekly reporter, I made fun of flacks,” Spragens wrote in an e-mail. “Now I am one.”

The Nashville native graduated from Kenyon College in 2004.

Eight Is Enough for Rodriguez. Rep. Ciro Rodriguez (D-Texas) recently finalized his office staff.

Adrian Saenz, 36, will serve as chief of staff.

Previously, Saenz worked as Rep. Rahm Emanuel’s (Ill.) national field director at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, as communications director for Rep. Charlie Gonzalez (D-Texas) and on various political campaigns.

A native of Brownsville, Texas, and a former president of the Congressional Hispanic Staff Association, Saenz graduated from the University at Texas at San Antonio with a bachelor’s degree in political science.

Also new to the office as legislative director is René Muñoz, 29. Previously, Muñoz worked for Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-Texas) since 2000.

From El Paso, Texas, Muñoz earned a bachelor’s degree in government from New Mexico State University in 2000. He wrote in an e-mail that he “holds 2 NCAA Conference baseball records earned as a member of the Sul Ross University Lobos.”

Khalil Munir joins the office as senior policy adviser/appropriations associate.

Previously, Munir worked for Michigan Democratic Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick in the same capacity from 2002 to 2007. Before that, Munir was legislative director for the late Rep. Juanita Millender-McDonald (D-Calif.) from 2001 to 2002; communications director and senior legislative assistant for Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-N.Y.) from 1989 to 1997; and professional staff on the Narcotics Committee from 1985 to 1989.

The New York City native earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Vermont and a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Rhode Island.

Meghan Riley, 25, is a new legislative assistant in the office.

Riley previously worked for Rep. John Olver (D-Mass.) as a staff assistant, legislative correspondent and ultimately a legislative assistant since 2004.

From Reading, Mass., Riley graduated from George Washington University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism in 2004. She also is a brown belt in karate.

Coming aboard as legislative correspondent and intern/fellow coordinator is Paul Gomez, 25.

Prior to assuming his new job, Gomez worked for Rep. Hilda Solis (D-Calif.) in 2006. He also worked as assistant dean of residence life and teacher of religion at Georgetown Preparatory in 2005 and as project manager and teacher of history and theology at Loyola High School in Los Angeles.

Gomez, who is from Whittier, Calif., graduated from Marquette University with a bachelors’ degree in political science and theology in 2003. He currently is pursuing a master’s degree in government from Johns Hopkins University.

Natalie Thorpe, 23, joins the office as scheduler and executive assistant.

Thorpe previously worked as director of scheduling and advance for Jim Pederson’s (D) unsuccessful Arizona Senate campaign in 2006; as health and human services projects coordinator for Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano (D) in 2005; and for Sen. John Kerry’s (D-Mass.) 2004 presidential campaign.

Thorpe earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Arizona State University in 2005. She is from Moraga, Calif.

Angela Barranco, 27, is new as press secretary.

Previously, Barranco worked as campaign manger for Ken Jenkins for Westchester County Legislator in 2007; campaign manager for Christine Jennings for Congress in 2006; legislative and transition director for the Office of Yonkers City Council President from 2005 to 2006; campaign manger for Chuck Lesnick for Yonkers City Council President in 2005; statewide director of operations for 2005 Virginia Coordinated; field organizer for 2004 New Mexico Coordinated; and fellow in the office of Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) in 2004. She also worked as program coordinator for the Center for Environmental Research and Conservation from 2002 to 2004.

From Yonkers, N.Y., Barranco graduated from Columbia University with a bachelor’s degree in ecology, evolution and environmental biology in 2002. She currently is pursuing a master’s degree at George Washington University’s Graduate School of Political Management.

Finally, Marco De León, 22, is a Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute public policy fellow in the office.

De León previously worked in the same capacity for Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) in 2006. He also has worked as a student research intern for the John Snow Institute and as a research assistant in cognitive development for Stanford University’s psychology department.

A 2006 political science graduate from Stanford University, De León is from Corpus Christi, Texas.

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