House Benghazi committee chairman Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., tapped a veteran of Capitol Hill and the K Street lobbying world as majority staff director of the controversial panel, amid indications that opponents – both of the new staff director and of the committee’s mandate – are ramping up their efforts.
To lead the Republican majority staff, Gowdy selected Philip Kiko, a key aide to Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., when the latter served as chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, and more recently a registered lobbyist for the Smith-Free Group, a K Street lobbying firm with a diverse roster of clients.
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, swiftly welcomed Gowdy’s choice, calling Kiko “a man of unquestioned integrity with a record of distinguished service” in and out of Congress. “His appointment today is further proof of Chairman Gowdy’s commitment to an investigation that is serious, fact-based, and professional,” Boehner said in a statement, adding: “There is no better person to help lead this effort than Phil.”
However, emails obtained by Fox News show that some conservatives are unhappy with Kiko’s appointment, chiefly because of his recent lobbying activities. Emails circulating among a large group of conservative lawyers and former Capitol Hill staffers late Thursday, after Kiko’s selection became known, included sharp criticism of Kiko for having represented the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights (LCCHR), among other clients.