Caught Our Eye items are posted daily. LegiStorm Pro subscribers have access to all posts a few hours before other users, and are also able to search the full Caught Our Eye archive. Log in as a LegiStorm Pro user or learn more about subscribing.
August might be the perfect time to visit Aspen or Paris, but a handful of members instead chose to visit a battle zone: Israel.
Eight lawmakers made the week-long trek to the Holy Land during the latest round of fighting between Israel and Hamas, according to travel disclosures. The American Israel Education Foundation, AIPAC's charitable wing, picked up the $156,260 tab for the excursion.
For Reps. Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore.) and Morgan Griffith (R-Va.), it was the first time they had ever let an outside group pay for their travel. Reps. Tom Graves (R-Ga.), Janice Hahn (D-Calif.), Randy Hultgren (R-Ill.), Steve Israel (D-N.Y.), Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) and Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) also traveled with them.
The congressional delegation met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other officials to discuss the ongoing conflict. The group's meeting with Netanyahu at the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum was interrupted by a phone call with Secretary of State John Kerry, who was trying to broker a ceasefire agreement between Jerusalem and Gaza. During the week-long voyage, Egypt brokered a temporary ceasefire while the Israelis and Palestinians could negotiate on a permanent agreement. So far the military operation has claimed the lives of over 2,000 Palestinians and 70 Israelis.
The group also toured the Syrian border and attended seminars hosted by Israeli academics and military officials on security threats to the region.
Rep. Filemon Vela (D-Texas) recently returned from his first privately funded trip since taking office in 2013. Vela made it count, traveling to Bogota, Colombia.
The Brownsville Economic Development Council paid the $1,700 tab for Vela for the trip. The Texas Democrat represents the city of Brownsville, which occupies the southernmost tip of the state. Its proximity to Mexico, just across the Rio Grande River, makes Brownsville a hub for international trade.
According to its filing, Filomena traveled to Colombia's capital for a breakfast at which he spoke to a group of more than 100 Colombian businessmen in an apparent effort to drum up investment in his district.
A lobbyist-turned-House chief of staff has returned to the government affairs industry.
Adam Brand is now director of public policy and government affairs at Biogen Idec. The biotechnology company's work focuses on the research and discovery of new therapies for neurological and autoimmune disorders.
Brand most recently served as chief of staff for Rep. Linda Sánchez, (D-Calif.) starting in 2010. He became Rep. Patrick Kennedy's (D-R.I.) chief of staff in 2007, following a three-year stint at lobbying heavyweight Akin Gump. Between 1997 and 2001 Brand worked as a communications aide for then-House Majority Leader Dick Gephardt (D-Mo.).
Brand's father is prominent Washington, D.C. lawyer, Stanley Brand. Since founding the Brand Law Group in 1983, Stan Brand has made a name for himself as an inside-the-Beltway power player. A criminal defense attorney, he has developed a speciality in ethics and has represented many members of Congress who have found themselves in hot water.
Adam Brand earned a BA from Skidmore College in 1997 and a JD from Georgetown Law in 2004.
Steve Donaldson, a former House policy aide, has left Congress in favor of a position at politically focused law firm HoltzmanVogelJosefiak PLLC.
Formerly a legislative assistant to Rep. Todd Rokita (R-Ind.), Donaldson has joined Holtzman as an associate.
HoltzmanVogelJosefiak's practice focuses on election law, lobbying restrictions and federal regulations. The firm's partners include husband and wife Alex Vogel and Jill Holtzman Vogel. Alex Vogel, a founding partner of lobbying firm Mehlman Vogel Castagnetti, left that firm earlier this summer.
Prior to joining Rokita's staff in 2013, Donaldson spent more than a year working for Mitt Romney's unsuccessful 2012 presidential bid. He holds a JD and a bachelor's in history from the University of Alabama.
The new top aide to Rep. Linda Sánchez (D-Calif.) is just what the doctor ordered: a recent pharmaceutical lobbyist.
Lea Sulkala, who joined the congresswoman's staff this week, was most recently the senior director of federal affairs for PhRMA. According to lobbying papers filed on July 21, Sulkala most recently lobbied on issues pertaining to H.R. 3220, the Veterans' Access to Care through Choice, Accountability and Transparency Act of 2015. The bill, which was signed into law by President Barack Obama two weeks ago, overhauled the VA health care system after the scandal that rocked the agency earlier this year.
Sulkala is a Hill and K St. veteran. She was the manager of government relations for the American Heart Association from 2006 to 2009. The UNC alumna previously served as a legislative assistant and staff assistant for Rep. Bob Etheridge (D-N.C.). Her husband, Matt Sulkala, formerly worked for Rep. Allen Boyd (D-Fla.) and is currently the deputy vice president for PhRMA.
We spend a large part of our days looking at data. Documents often come in by the dozens and hundreds. And while most are boring - how interesting can staring at a phone directory or salary records be, for example? - we find daily reasons for interest, amusement or even concern packed in the documents. So we are launching a new running feature that we call "Caught our Eye."
Longer than tweets but shorter than most blog posts, Caught our Eye items will bring back the interest in reviewing documents and researching people. Some items might bring hard, breaking news. Others will raise eyebrows and lead some into further inquiry. Others might be good for a joke or two around the water cooler. All will enlighten about the people or workings of Capitol Hill.
Caught our Eye items will be published each morning for LegiStorm Pro subscribers. Non-Pro site users will be able to receive the news items a few hours later. In addition to having immediate access to the news, LegiStorm Pro users will have a handy way to search and browse all past items.