Maine’s Sen. Susan Collins and former Sen. Olympia Snowe both make cameos in a recent New York Times Magazine profile of Washington insider Kurt Bardella, a former Snowe spokesman who made his name working for a top House Republican.
The story, which pulls from reporting done by Mark Leibovich for his new book ‘This Town’ – an insiders’ look at the incestuous nature of political life in Washington, D.C. – reveals Bardella as a driven but perhaps amoral character working the media and Capitol Hill for his advantage.
Bardella worked as a spokesman for Snowe at the end of 2007, but as Leibovich notes, his time there was brief.
“In December 2007, Bardella did indeed jump to Snowe’s office, but he lasted less than a year. He found the Senate boring, he said — too plodding, too gentlemanly, not his thing — and he returned to Bilbray’s office and identified Darrell Issa as his next big game,” Liebovich writes.
Former Snowe staffers declined to comment on what exactly happened with Bardella, but noted that it’s not common for senate communication staffers to switch jobs that fast.
It was working for Issa, now the chairman of the powerful House Oversight Committee, that Bardella ran into some more trouble. Bardella blind-copied Liebovich in on many e-mails with reporters, television show producers and bookers and more. Revelations about the move led to Bardella losing his job with Issa, though he eventually returned to service.
In one exchange that Liebovich highlights, the spokesman for Collins notes his boss’ disappointment that she was not able to take equal credit for an investigation because Issa’s office leaked the report to the New York Times.
“Hey, Kurt, needless to say, my boss really wishes she had a shot at including a quote, along with your boss, in the stories that have come out since your office decided to leak a report that was jointly requested,” Leibovich reports the e-mail from Kevin Kelley, of Collins’ office, said.
“The next day, Bardella sent me a postscript under the heading ‘You’ll Love This,’” Liebovich writes. “Jen Burita, Sen. Collins’ Deputy [chief of staff] who was the Comm Dir when I worked for Olympia, just called my Chief of Staff to complain that I had not apologized for scooping them.”
As Liebovich’s reporting shows, the Hill can be a quagmire of ego and spin that touches any number of people, places and things.