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Raimo, former Pelosi counsel and longtime House aide, dies at 79

Vietnam veteran spent four decades working on Capitol Hill

Bernie Raimo, a longtime House aide whose career included being Speaker Nancy Pelosi's chief counsel, has died.
Bernie Raimo, a longtime House aide whose career included being Speaker Nancy Pelosi's chief counsel, has died. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Bernie Raimo, a longtime counsel to former Speaker Nancy Pelosi and a congressional staffer for decades before that, died Tuesday at age 79.

Raimo resided on Capitol Hill until his passing. His family said the cause of death was a stroke.

“For more than four decades — including fifteen years in my office – Bernie served the Congress and our Country with the utmost distinction,” Pelosi, D-Calif., said in a statement. “Whether defending our security and civil liberties on the House Intelligence Committee, upholding integrity in government on the Ethics Committee or sharing his vast institutional knowledge in my Speaker’s Office, his public service was marked by excellence, integrity and good humor.”

Raimo, who was born May 29, 1944, in Kansas City, Mo., first came to Capitol Hill as a staffer for Missouri Democratic Sen. Stuart Symington in 1968 before going on to work for the House Intelligence Committee, for what was then the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct and for Democratic Leaders Richard A. Gephardt and Pelosi.

Raimo was chief counsel to the ethics panel in the early 1990s, when Democrats had the House majority. He served as counsel to both Gephardt and Pelosi, often serving as the bridge between the Democratic leader or speaker’s office and the House Administration Committee.

Before retiring in 2019, Raimo was awarded by Pelosi and then-Speaker Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., with a John W. McCormack Award of Excellence, which is a top honor for staffers who have provided exemplary service to the House.

“If he gives his word, we can trust his word. And no matter what the decision is, he will see it through for the good of the institution. Also, Bernie is decidedly old school. He is known to be a fan of the House telephone book,” Ryan said at a December 2018 ceremony. “So much so, that he has informed the clerk that if we were to discontinue the practice, he will have no choice but to retire.”

Raimo received his undergraduate degree from Notre Dame in 1965 and his law degree from George Washington University in 1972. Raimo also served in the Army after being drafted while in law school at GW. He served one tour in Vietnam.

Raimo is survived by Sharon, his wife of 49 years, as well as two children, Sarah and Peter, a daughter-in-law and granddaughter.

“Many of us in the House have been touched by Bernie’s unfailing kindness and unwavering devotion to this institution,” Pelosi said. “May it be a comfort to his dear wife, Sharon, their children Peter and Sarah, his granddaughter Adelene and to the entire Raimo family that his many friends in the Congress pray for them during this sad time.”

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