Cloer in, Armed Services out After months of hyping the importance of serving on the House Armed Services Committee including unveiling a letter from then-Speaker Dennis Hastert, promising to go to bat for him new congressman Doug Lamborn of Colorado Springs learned last week he does not have a seat at that dais after all.
Instead, the first-term congressman received assignments to the Veterans Affairs and Natural Resources committees. It will be the first time in 18 years that Colorado's 5th Congressional District, home to five military installations, will not be represented on the Armed Services panel, which funds and oversees the Department of Defense and the U.S. armed forces.
Lamborn's predecessor, Joel Hefley, served on Armed Services for almost two decades and chaired its subcommittee on military readiness. He was credited by many with helping to save Fort Carson from potential closure in the mid-1990s.
In addition, last week Lamborn drew 49th out of 49 for his new office in Washington, which, as the Gazette reported, has Lamborn and his staff in an office with a women's public restroom dividing it in half. "We're pretty much on top of each other," Lamborn's new spokesman, Chris Harvin, concedes. But the staffers are stoked nonetheless, he says.
Congress, apparently, has that effect on some people even when working for a freshman in the minority party. In addition to Harvin, a former White House appointee to the Pentagon who has worked for Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz, Lamborn last week announced his new staff both in Washington and Colorado Springs, nerve center for the 5th District.
At least one of Lamborn's new staffers is a familiar name, indeed: former state Rep. Mark Cloer.
Cloer, who unexpectedly resigned his seat the day after Christmas, citing family issues, says he subsequently was recruited to work for Lamborn in his Colorado Springs office. Cloer represented House District 17 in southeastern Colorado Springs for six years, winning re-election to a final term in November by a 57 to 43 percent margin. A longtime supporter of Lamborn, Cloer maintains he did not plan to join Lamborn's staff when he left office. His salary will be $50,000 a year.
"I resigned, Doug [Lamborn] found out, and Doug reached out to me and said, "Hey, we need someone out in the Springs to help out with constituent services,'" Cloer says. "That's what I worked my tush off in the Legislature doing."
Robert McCreary, a former White House administration appointee to the Department of Labor, will serve as Lamborn's chief of staff in Washington. McCreary has served as deputy director of communications and spokesman for the Pentagon's Base Realignment Commission. Harvin says he and McCreary initially met, and were impressed with, Lamborn when they were traveling with Vice President Dick Cheney during a Colorado Springs fundraiser shortly before the election.
Also on Lamborn's Colorado Springs staff is John Vander Meulen, a former telecommunications manager at Focus on the Family, who has been tapped as the congressman's district director.
Holly Williams, a longtime Republican activist and former governor-appointed public trustee for El Paso County, is Lamborn's office manager.
Jon Hotaling, who ran Lamborn's congressional campaign, will also remain, overseeing campaign fundraising full-time, Harvin says.