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Word on the Hill: Staffing Up

Cortez Masto taps Reid and Mikulski staffers

Nevada Sen.-elect Catherine Cortez Masto announced seven senior staff hires. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Nevada Sen.-elect Catherine Cortez Masto announced seven senior staff hires. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Newly elected senators are slowly but surely staffing their Capitol Hill offices.

Nevada Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto, who is replacing retiring Sen. Harry Reid, announced seven senior staff hires this week.

Her newly appointed chief of staff, Scott Fairchild, was the campaign manager for her Senate race, and her deputy chief of staff, Laura Erickson Hatalsky, was the policy director for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee for the 2016 cycle.

She tapped two Hill staffers who currently work for retiring senators. Her communications director, Rey Benitez, was Reid’s senior adviser for Hispanic media, and her administrative director, Josh Yearsley is the current operations director for Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, D-Md.

Shaq on the Hill

Basketball star Shaquille O’Neal is joining for an event with law enforcement officers and national policy experts to discuss combating impaired driving. The event is from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m in the Hart Senate Office Building, Room 902.

Look for HOH’s coverage.

Orientation schedule

House members-elect will attend a series of briefings in the Capitol Visitor Center auditorium from 8:30 a.m. to noon.

Staffer shuffle

Brad White will be Sen. Thad Cochran’s chief of staff starting Jan. 1. He has been the Mississippi Republican’s state director since June 2015 and replaces Keith Heard, who is returning to the private sector.

Sean Coit, communications director for Katie McGinty’s Pennsylvania Senate campaign, has returned in the same role to Delaware Sen. Chris Coons’ office this week. Jonathan Kott, who took on Coit’s responsibilities in Coons’ office, will transition back to West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin III’s office full-time.

Holiday party of the day

Airlines for America, 4 to 6 p.m. in Capitol HC-5. This event is invite only.

Check out the full list of parties and a guide to navigating them.

Also happening today…

Singer Mark McGrath of rock band Sugar Ray and Billy Morrison, guitarist for Billy Idol, will be speaking and performing at the 2016 IP Champions Gala, featuring Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah. The event is at 6 p.m. at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 1615 H St., NW.

To celebrate the release of a Milken Institute report on the economic effects of obesity, the nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank is having a Hill reception in Capitol S-211 from 4:15 to 5:30 p.m. The event will feature chairman Mike Milken and Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La.

Donate toys

The Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee is hosting their annual Toys for Tots drive, Sens. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., announced on Tuesday. The committee is accepting donations of new, unwrapped toys in drop-off boxes located in its hearing room and Senate offices until Dec. 7.


“I think, absolutely, where we agree with them, we work with them. And when we don’t agree with them, we hold them accountable. And I think that’s the best way to go for the country.”

— Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., on the incoming Trump administration.

“It’s a First Amendment right, but you do it in front of me, I’m going to beat the hell out of you.”

– Sen. Joe Manchin III, D-W.Va., on flag-burning.

Happy birthday to…

Sen. Richard M. Burr, R-N.C., 61.

Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D., 45.

What’s going on?

Have any tips, announcements or Hill happenings? Send them to AlexGangitano@cqrollcall.comJohn T. Bennett and Bridget Bowman contributed to this report. 

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