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Top Byrd Adviser Leaving Hill, Joining ONE

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.

By Paul Kane  |  July 9, 2007; 6:55 PM ET
Categories:  Senate  
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I'm not being at all facetious when I say that Bono is going to be the first rockstar to achieve sainthood.

Posted by: Patrick Huss | July 9, 2007 8:30 PM | Report abuse

The ONE Campaign does great work and I can't think of a better organization to join at this time. We need to force our representatives--current and future--to push for the United Nation's Millennium Development Goals, which call for cutting world hunger in half by 2015 and eliminating it altogether by 2025. It has been calculated that $19 billion would eliminate starvation and malnutrition worldwide. Compare this number with the United States' current defense budget--$522 billion--and the task of ending global hunger seems well within reach.

Posted by: Jessica | July 9, 2007 8:41 PM | Report abuse

It's fantastic that ONE is beefing up it's staff with Washington insiders. Their input will be invaluable and help take the wind out of the sails of critics who dismiss the good work of actors and musicians. A strong advocacy component to ONE is critical to meeting the Millennium Development goals!

Posted by: Cynthia | July 10, 2007 10:38 AM | Report abuse

This attempt by the "One Campaign" is going to be very interesting indeed. Do they have their own "think tank" behind them? And how do they think they're better than the one's already functioning? The problem is not just "saving lives." They better have some plans on what to do with all these people they think they're going to save. There are considerably more issues here than Mr. Bono seems aware of. Whoever makes this move will be taking on further responsibilities for what they've done. And how nice to simply say the U.N. will follow-up on one of their programs. That's really a great track record, huh? Are they going to educate all of these people? Are they going to give them all jobs? How are they going to handle the ignorance of incessant procreation into an already destitute situation? Especially when a faux space-god intervener tells them not to use condoms. That puts them in a real dilemma along with Mr. Bono et al, because he also must figure out how to handle that space-god nut. Nature is taking its course, just as in any other part of the animal kingdom. Perhaps they're planning to ship test subjects into space colonies? Voluntary sterilization should be the initial prerequisite to the first bite of food or vaccinations in such a program. These things have all been considered before, and all of these people will be appropriately taken care of in the New Order.

Posted by: Spectrum108 | July 10, 2007 12:30 PM | Report abuse

I completely support the ONE Campaign and any politican and presidential candidates that address this critical and fundamental issue of poverty.According to the Borgen Project, an organization helping to fight global poverty, $340 billion dollars has been spent for the Iraq war. However, it only takes $19 billion dollars annually to end world poverty and $23 billion dollars to reverse the spread of AIDS and Malaria. This country definitely needs more people and political figures that understands the fundamental issues and problems such as poverty that needs to be addressed and solved.

Posted by: Mstessyrue | July 10, 2007 1:30 PM | Report abuse

Can ANYONE tell me where Paige Craig and Christian Bailey are? Or what they did w/ the$100M in no bid PR contracts to Lincoln Group/IraqEX. Or why Grassley and Jeryy Dellafemina are hooked up w/them other than the obvious?

Posted by: Philip Wagner | July 10, 2007 11:10 PM | Report abuse

Spectrum108, You are sick, disturbed, and in need of some serious psychological intervention.

Posted by: Patrick Huss | July 11, 2007 10:03 AM | Report abuse

What a hypocrite. Stopping world poverty such a high and mighty ambition. No wonder ONE wants him, he was able to bilk the american public out of billions all in the name of Robert Byrd. Drive through West Virginia some time if some of you doubt.

Posted by: CG | July 11, 2007 12:24 PM | Report abuse

Wilson from Rep. Reynolds office is a good sign that the ONE campaign is gaining headway. Surprised the article did not discuss that further.

Posted by: Michael | July 11, 2007 4:03 PM | Report abuse

I gotta say, Stephen Wilson is an excellent hire. The ONE Campaign just got ONE step better. I am proud to see the organization take positive steps unlike the Sabres.

Posted by: Mark | July 11, 2007 5:00 PM | Report abuse

Hey Wilson, this is Connolly! I gotta say, I am proud too see you doing well, and I am very excited to see the ONE campaign grow as our friendship has.

Posted by: Connolly | July 11, 2007 5:02 PM | Report abuse

We would like to see all of you back John Edwards as he is the only candidate who really is working to help the poor.

Posted by: Marty C. | July 11, 2007 11:08 PM | Report abuse

Patrick Huss,

You say I am sick, disturbed, and in need of some serious psychological intervention, but you don't offer any plan of your own.

I am merely stating facts that have to be dealt with in this process. Sending some food to these countries for photo-op display without follow-up in the name of humanity, helps no one beyond that moment.

How can you not think about this? It's a major problem and if you don't think so, check out the CFR's web site. They even have "b-o-o-k-s" available on this subject matter for those that can "r-e-a-d." Everyone concerned is trying to figure out this very problem.

And until a complete plan has truly evolved, nothing will be done. That's why it's still the way it is.

Posted by: Spectrum108 | July 12, 2007 9:48 PM | Report abuse

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