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Filner’s Frenzied Fill-Up

Why are the owner of a renowned beagle, a horror movie fan, a San Diego Chargers afficionado, a science fiction enthusiast and an instrument-rated pilot hanging out in the hallowed halls of the U.S. House of Representatives? [IMGCAP(2)]

Turns out Rep. Bob Filner (D-Calif.) is fully responsible. He organized the cohorts in an effort to expand the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee staff, which he chairs.

So now the horror movie fan is in close confines with a man responsible for flying planes. The Chargers guy is now finding common ground with a science fiction nerd. And the beagle owner — well, let’s just start with his dog’s name: Eisenhower Hurricane Richardson- Tucker.

David Tucker, 42, now chief counsel for the committee, is responsible for the dog’s title. As the new head of the committee, he is also responsible for overseeing the staff on legislative issues as well as maintaining his responsibilities with budgeting and appropriations. Originally from Ontario, Calif., he received a law degree from the College of William and Mary in 1991 and a bachelor’s from the University of Utah in 1988. This tennis-playing, Red Sox-loving, ex-staff director for the panel’s subcommittee on health previously served as the minority counsel to the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, and he once held the position of senior association legislative director for the Paralyzed Veterans of America.

“I am confident that the members of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, along with the committee staff, will greatly benefit from his counsel and experience,” Filner said. Hill Climbers hopes that just as many readers will benefit now that they are aware of his beagle’s phenomenal appellation.

Cathy Wiblemo is the fan of horror. Horror movies, that is. Now the staff director of the Veterans’ Affairs subcommittee on health, Wiblemo, 43, will focus on improving health care for returning service members and veterans of previous conflicts. Previously serving as its staff director, Wiblemo was deputy director for health care at The American Legion. She graduated from Chapman University in 1991 with a master’s in health, and in 1984 graduated from Black Hill State University with a bachelor’s in history. She is originally from Mitchell, S.D., and in addition to horror movies, she is also a fan of the Washington Redskins.

Thaddeus Hoffmeister, 36, is the San Diego Chargers afficionado. He once sat in Rep. John Murtha’s (D-Pa.) favorite chair during a House vote by accident, but that won’t stop him from being able to address new and effective ways to reduce the claims backlog at the VA in his new position as staff director for the subcommittee on disability assistance and memorial affairs. Hoffmeister was a captain in the U.S. Army and continues to serve as a major in the National Guard. He earned a Master of Laws from Georgetown in ’02, a law degree from Northeastern University in ’98 and a bachelor’s in French from Morgan State University in ’95.

Juan Lara, the science fiction guy, has a job that is nothing short of out of this world. He was appointed staff director for the subcommittee on economic opportunity, where his focus will be on updating the GI Bill for veterans, after previously working at The American Legion as assistant director of legislative affairs. From Progreso, Texas, he received his law degree in 2000 from Capital University Law School and roots for the Dallas Cowboys when his nose isn’t buried in a Philip K. Dick novel.

The pilot of the group has ample reason for wanting to fly. Geoffrey Bestor, 52, says his hometown is “the world,” after being born in New York City and having lived in New Jersey, Colorado, Oregon, Alabama, Utah, Massachusetts, Michigan, Paris and, since 1983, Washington, D.C. He graduated from the University of Michigan Law School in 1981 and has more than 25 years of experience as a federal prosecutor, deputy assistant attorney general in the Department of Justice and in private practice. He will work to address shortcomings in the VA by maintaining accountability for program operations and departmental spending. When not doing that, or flying around the world, Bestor enjoys squashing people. On a squash court.

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Jock-ette Jam. Susan Cole becomes nostalgic when she speaks about her participation in Austin Peay State University’s women’s basketball and softball teams. After graduating with a degree in health and physical education in 1986, Cole was employed at the Wright Patman Congressional Federal Credit Union and spent nine years as chief Reading and Tally Clerk for the House Financial Services Committee.

Most recently serving in the House Clerk Office as the Assistant Chief Clerk of Debates, she is now the House Republican Reading Clerk, filling the vacancy left after the retirement of Paul Hays. In her new position, she will be responsible for reading legislation that comes before the House, working with parliamentarians and committee staff to expedite House proceedings and notifying the Senate of all actions taken by the House. With her husband Grant, she has two daughters, Olivia, 11, and, Amelia, 8.

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