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John Garamendi has a new chief of staff

By Josh Richman
Wednesday, July 6th, 2011 at 3:49 pm in John Garamendi, U.S. House.

Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, announced today he has hired international peace and security expert Charles “Chic” Dambach to serve as his new chief of staff.

“For decades, Chic Dambach has been a powerful voice for international peace and justice,” Garamendi said in a news release. “We’ve worked with each other to end wars and to expand the reach and influence of the Peace Corps. I am confident that in his new capacity in my Congressional office, he will be a forceful and effective advocate for a peaceful and prosperous America, something we all want.”

Chic DambachDambach from 2005 through this year was President and CEO of the Alliance for Peacebuilding, a network of organizations and professionals who help build sustainable peace and security worldwide. Earlier, he served as CEO of the National Peace Corps Association and as a consultant to national and international organizations including United Way of America, Phi Beta Kappa, Special Olympics, Red Cross, and Amnesty International USA. Dambach is an adjunct professor for George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs; was as a Peace Corps volunteer in Colombia from 1967 through 1969; and holds a bachelor’s degree from Oklahoma State University and an MBA from Wake Forest University.

Dambach and Garamendi in 1999 created a team of returned Peace Corps volunteers to work informally with the leaders of Eritrea and Ethiopia to help end their border war. The team met frequently with Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and Eritrea’s President Isayas Afwerki and their representatives. The team was recognized by Prime Minister Meles for “creating the momentum and the spirit which made this historic achievement (the peace agreement) possible.”

“I am tremendously honored and excited with this opportunity to work again with Congressman Garamendi,” Dambach said in his new boss’s news release. “I have admired his skills and his values for decades, and we have worked together on major conflict resolution projects in Africa as well as other causes. I look forward to helping the Congressman advance his priorities and initiatives.”

UPDATE @ 4:15 P.M.: Garamendi’s office says Dambach’s annual salary will be $110,000, well below the 2010 average of $136,588 for Congressional chiefs of staff. “Overall compensation for our staff is in the bottom quarter for Congressional offices,” spokesman Matthew Kravitz said in an e-mail.

Garamendi in December 2009 had tapped Scott Fay, a former senior aide to U.S. Senator Edward Kennedy, as his chief of staff. Fay was succeeded last year by Debbi Gibbs, who left the job about a month ago.

UPDATE @5:02 P.M.: Gary Cohen did a stint as Garamendi’s chief of staff between Fay and Gibbs; he’s now acting director of the Office of Oversight at the Department of Health and Human Services.

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  • Doug

    You just know we’re wasting tons of money in state government when there exists a job called the “acting director of the Office of Oversight at the Department of Health and Human Services.”

  • Patty O’Day

    So he has had 4 Chiefs of Staff since taking office? He has only been in for less than 2 years. He must be awful to work for. What is with all the turnover?

  • Joe M.

    Patty has a good point. Garamendi has been in office just 20 months and gone through 4 Chiefs of Staff. It’s revealing that a man who brags about his decades of “experience” can’t retain talent. Garamendi is too busy posing for TV cameras (and dyeing his hair to look better on TV) to do real work. The routine business of a congressional office is too small for his big ego. Now the real work is stacking up and overwhelming the incompetent lackeys and political hacks who probably make up the rest of his staff. Once the new Chief of Staff realizes how dysfunctional Garamendi’s operation is, he’ll move on after waiting a few months to make the move in order to “save face.”

  • Lars54

    I supported DeSaulnier for this Congressional seat, but Garamendi has turned out to be a good Congressman. He’s not afraid to take tough stands, like his campaign to end the war in Afghanistan or his support for Obama’s health care plan. He’s turning out to be the kind of fighting liberal Democrat the bay area typically sends to DC, which is great.

  • Elwood

    Garamendi is simply another loony tunes liberal.

    He fits right in to the Bay Area loony tunes dimmiecrat congressional delegation.