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Staff Changes at Senate Ethics Committee as Isakson Prepares to Take Gavel

Isakson will take the gavel on the Senate Ethics Committee. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Isakson will take the gavel on the Senate Ethics Committee. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The director of investigations on the House Ethics Committee has been named as the new staff director and chief counsel of the Senate Ethics Committee, in a slate of changes announced by the secretive panel on Thursday.  

Deborah Mayer, who has overseen all ethics investigations conducted in the House since 2011, will replace John Sassaman, who departed after more than six years in the post to be ethics director for the Boeing Company’s Government Operations program. He was well-respected by staff and left big shoes to fill , according to those familiar with the process. In the 114th Congress, Mayer will report to Sen. Johnny Isakson. The Georgia Republican, who replaced Wyoming Republican Craig Thomas on the panel after his 2007 death, takes the gavel on Senate Ethics in January. His staff confirmed the move to CQ Roll Call on Thursday.  

Current Chairwoman Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., joined Isakson in praising Mayer, who previously served as a trial attorney in the Public Integrity Section of the Justice Department. Mayer also investigated and prosecuted Russian and Balkan organized crime groups and the five New York families of La Cosa Nostra as an assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and worked extensively as a judge advocate general in the Navy.  

“She has a well-deserved reputation for fairness, professionalism and integrity that will benefit the Committee and the Senate as a whole,” the pair said in a statement. “John Sassaman served the Ethics Committee with distinction, and we are thrilled to have found someone to follow in that proud tradition.”  

The committee also announced promotions for longtime counsels, Lynn Tran and Tremayne Bunaugh, to senior positions. According to Legistorm, both joined the committee in 2007. Tran previously worked for the Federal Election Commission.  

“This experienced team is well-positioned to help the Committee tackle its important work in the 114th Congress,” Boxer and Isakson stated.  

Niels Lesniewski contributed to this report. 

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