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Obama Taps Eight for Top Administration Jobs

By Ed O'Keefe
Rand Beers
National security and counterterrorism expert Rand Beers gets his long-anticipated DHS nomination. (Photo by Jahi Chikwendiu/Post)

Updated 4:34 p.m. ET

President Obama today announced plans to nominate eight revolving-door regulars and experienced Hill veterans to positions at the departments of Defense, Homeland Security, Justice, Labor, State and Transportation.

In a move anticipated for months, the president tapped Rand Beers to serve as undersecretary for national protection and programs at DHS. A veteran of four presidential administrations, he most recently served as Secretary Janet Napolitano's acting deputy. He led the DHS review team for the Obama transition and once served as assistant secretary for the State Department's "drugs 'n' thugs" bureau, formally known as international narcotics and law enforcement affairs.

The president also recruited another top aide to to Gov. Jon Corzine (D-N.J.), asking Jane Oates to serve as the Labor Department's assistant secretary for employment and training administration. She is currently the executive director of the New Jersey Commission on Higher Education and a senior policy adviser to the Garden State governor. If confirmed, Oates will join EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson as the second senior Corzine aide to trade Trenton for Washington. Before New Jersey, she advised Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) on education and labor issues related to his work on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

Peter M. Rogoff, a leading expert on transportation funding issues, will be nominated to serve as administrator of DOT's Federal Transit Administration. He's a 22-year veteran of the Senate Appropriations Committee and has served as Democratic staff director to the transportation subcommittee for the last 14 years. Rogoff was the lead Senate staffer on the .08 blood alcohol content (BAC) law and the youth drunk driving “zero tolerance” law, widely credited with saving tens of thousands of lives. He also advised lawmakers on the initiation and financing of Amtrak's high-speed Acela service and on the financing of new light rail and bus rapid transit systems.

Clinton administration veteran Mary L. Smith has been selected to serve as assistant attorney general for DOJ's tax division. The highest-ranking Native American under Clinton, Smith also is a veteran of several Washington-based law firms and was once the senior litigation counsel at Tyco International. Smith served as a trial attorney for DOJ's civil division from 1994 to 1996 after serving as associate White House counsel and associate director of policy planning. If confirmed, the president will add yet another former Windy City resident to his administration: Smith earned a law degree from the University of Chicago School of Law and she serves on the Board of Managers for the Chicago Bar Association.

UPDATE: The administration has released the names of four more anticipated picks. Jeffrey Feltman to serve as assistant secretary for near eastern affairs at State; Charles A. Hurley to serve as administrator of DOT's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration; Robert O. Work to serve as undersecretary of the Navy at DOD and Charles A. Blanchard to serve as the Department of the Air Force's general counsel.

Feltman is a career diplomat who has served as principal deputy assistant secretary in the near eastern affairs office since Feb. 2008. He served as ambassador to Lebanon from 2004 to 2008.

Hurley has most recently served as CEO of Mothers Against Drunk Driving and previously held senior positions with the National Safety Council and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Wonk is a 27-year Marine Corps veteran who currently serves as a vice president at Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. His last military assignment was as a military assistant and senior aide to former Navy Secretary Richard J. Danzig.

Blanchard is a private attorney in Phoenix and previously served as general counsel for the Army and chief counsel to the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.

By Ed O'Keefe  | April 8, 2009; 3:05 PM ET
Categories:  Administration, Revolving Door  
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hmm...mary smith was with Tyco?

does she have a $6,000 gold leaf shower curtain?

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | April 8, 2009 4:04 PM | Report abuse

Isn't appointing an appropriations staffer to oversee DOT transportation spending like letting the fox guard the henhouse?

Hardly the person to stand up to the hill on pet projects.

Posted by: ah___ | April 8, 2009 4:29 PM | Report abuse

Half of them will drop out as tax cheats.

Posted by: WashingtonDame | April 8, 2009 5:47 PM | Report abuse

Wasn't Beers the one who said that McCain lacked foreign policy experience because he spent so much of the Vietnam war as a prisoner?

I wonder if McCain will be one of the Senators at his confirmation hearing.

Posted by: tomtildrum | April 8, 2009 6:32 PM | Report abuse

Why is Obama appointing the former CEO of MADD? This woman is pure politician, notably for the Republican agenda. She advocates prison for literally anyone who drinks. She and her organization are hypocrites. This appointment shows that there are still many many Bushies hanging around in the Obama administration, still pushing his agenda, not Obama's.

Posted by: pkbishop | April 8, 2009 9:20 PM | Report abuse

So, the "drugs 'n' thugs" bureau is part of the State Department? I'd have thought it would be part of the "Just Us" Department, maybe an agency of DEA, CIA or FBI.

Perhaps I'm thinking of the wrong "drugs n thugs."

Posted by: Observer44 | April 9, 2009 1:13 PM | Report abuse

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