Rep. Kevin McCarthy, California Republican and incoming GOP Whip, has chosen Time Warner lobbyist Tim Berry as his chief of staff, his office confirmed Friday.
The pick had been in doubt because Berry’s old boss, former Republican Majority Leader Tom DeLay, was recently convicted for money laundering in Texas.
McCarthy defended Berry in an interview late Wednesday. “I know Tim from his work here,” he said. “Tim’s never been a problem … He wasn’t involved in any of that.”
Berry worked his way up the DeLay pecking order over ten years, from 1995 to 2005, serving as chief of staff for his last three years under “The Hammer.”
The press release announcing the pick, sent on a Friday afternoon, does not mention Berry’s former boss by name.
Berry “joined the Office of the Majority Whip in 1996 as a floor assistant, later becoming director of floor operations and then chief of staff. He then served as chief of staff for the Office of the Majority Leader,” the press release says.
According to press reports from the time, Berry had some involvement in the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal that helped knock DeLay – and Republicans – from power.
Abramoff once gave Berry a golf club, and took him on a trip to the Super Bowl with a stop aboard a casino cruise ship.
But unlike other former DeLay aides, for instance Michael Scanlon, Berry never encountered any trouble with the law.
When Berry was leaving DeLay’s office for K Street, his going away party occurred on the same day DeLay was indicted. Roll Call reported at the time that, as the indictment news hadn’t hit yet, “the room was all smiles.”
“Berry was handed a mock Roll Call front page announcing the ‘news’ of his departure,” the story said, “The lead headline blared: ‘Berry Leaves: Bipartisanship May Resume.’”
Besides DeLay’s corruption, conservatives might wince at learning Berry presided as DeLay’s chief of staff at the time the GOP held the Medicare Prescription Drug vote open for hours in the middle of the night to twist several Republican arms into yes votes.
Additionally, DeLay was known for brutal partisanship and centralized power, whereas incoming Speaker John Boehner has vowed to preside over a more open, transparent Congress.
On the other hand, there’s little doubt he would bring legislative acumen to the table.
Berry, who does not seek publicity, is respected on both sides of the aisle for his effectiveness as an aide.
For all of DeLay’s critics, nobody ever called him bad at counting votes.