Top Byrd Adviser Leaving Hill, Joining ONE

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Paul Kane, Washington Post

Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D-W. Va.) has lost one of his most trusted advisers in Tom Gavin, the communications director for the Appropriations Committee. Gavin is leaving Byrd's staff to join the ONE Campaign, the non-profit group co-founded by U2 singer Bono designed to lobby Washington about fighting third world poverty and HIV/Aids.

A veteran of Capitol Hill for a dozen years, Gavin has been the top flack for Democrats on the Appropriations Committee since 2000, explaining the intricacies of up to $1 trillion in discretionary spending under the panel's authority to uniformed hacks such as Capitol Briefing.

While relatively new to the lobbying scene, ONE Campaign has begun putting together a powerful team of insiders. Gavin's hiring comes six months after the non-profit lured away Susan McCue, the chief of staff to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), to run its shop.

"ONE is going to raise the nation's awareness to these crises, and band millions of people together to fight extreme poverty," McCue said today of Gavin's hiring. "This new communications team will help to take ONE's message to people from coast to coast, and help to achieve a great victory for our world."

Bono's win is Byrd's loss, however. Intensely loyal to Byrd, Gavin has lately had to beat back questions and rumors about Byrd's health as the senator approaches his 90th birthday and has had a tremor common among elderly grow more pronounced in recent years. In May, Terry Sauvain, Byrd's longtime top aide, resigned from one of the most powerful staff positions in Washington, stepping down as staff director for Appropriations after 40 years in public service. Sauvain remains a part-time employee for the senator this summer as some of the last spending bills are being approved by the committee this month.

Neither of these moves should be construed as a sign of Byrd retiring from the Senate or turning over the committee gavel to a more junior colleague. As Capitol Briefing reported at the end of last month, Byrd -- the longest serving senator in history, who just won his 9th full term -- gave a floor speech vowing to fully serve as a senator till "this old body just gives out and drops."

No word on who's replacing Gavin as Byrd's top spokesman. At ONE, he'll be joining a bipartisan team of communicators. In addition to Gavin's hiring, McCue announced several additional new staff: Kimberly Cadena, formerly from the staff of Rep. David Reichert (R-Wash.); Sarah Crouthers, formerly of the staff of Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (R-Mo.); Chandler Smith, formerly a press assistant for the U.S. Supreme Court; and Stephen Wilson, a deputy press secretary for Rep. Tom Reynolds (R-N.Y.) with a specialty in new media.

Copyrght © 2007 Washington Post. All rights reserved.

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This page contains a single entry by Brenda published on July 13, 2007 4:19 PM.

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