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Hill Climbers: Advocacy Sojourn Leads Back to Capitol Hill

Patrick Malone took a long hiatus from working on Capitol Hill, but a return to the halls of Congress was always in the back of his mind.

His latest stint on the Hill, which began in April as communications director to Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), followed a seven-year stretch away from Congress, where he worked for abortion rights and sex education organizations. 

And although Malone spent time off Capitol Hill, he said the roles he held at those advocacy groups always kept him tied to the happenings among the legislative branch and left him yearning to return.

“I’ve never been far away from the Hill at all,” Malone said. “Coming back here has really been like coming home.”

Malone’s interest in politics was sparked during his time at George Washington University Law School, where he worked at the National Network to End Domestic Violence. 

The job involved a good deal of work on the Senate side of Capitol Hill, and Malone said his time there triggered a desire to work among the hustle and bustle of Congress.

So after graduating from law school in 2004, Malone took a job as a legislative correspondent for Rep. Linda Sánchez (D-Calif.), where he was able to work on the progressive issues that he believes in, such as women’s health and reproductive rights.

A year later, an opportunity presented itself off the Hill at the Reproductive Health Technologies Project, an advocacy group that, at the time, was pushing for emergency birth control such as Plan B to be sold over the counter. 

His wife’s graduation from business school caused the D.C. native to leave his hometown for Connecticut, where he took a job as director of communications at the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States, a role he said bridged his policy experience with his desire to delve into communications. 

But then funding for his role at SIECUS dried up.  

“The economy turned south, and the funding for my position ran out, so I started to look back on the Hill,” Malone said. “Personally I have a broad range of interests. I’ve cut my teeth on reproductive health and rights. But I’ve always been interested also in fair taxation, the environment, stopping overblown military budgets, just sort of a broad stroke progressive. So when I saw the opportunity to come work for Congressman Blumenauer and do communications for him, that sort of seemed exactly like the right fit for me, and it seemed that they felt the same way.”

So Malone moved back to Washington, D.C., and has been working for the past month to regain his footing on Capitol Hill in an office that he said likes to foster the growth of its staff members and keep them around for large chunks of their careers. 

Malone said he also appreciates that Blumenauer shares “the same sort of ideals and political stances” that he has.

“I think that he’s going to be around for a while and has an opportunity to do a lot of good things on the Budget Committee and Ways and Means,” Malone said.  

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