Senate Commerce Committee Firms Staff; Domenici Remembered


The powerful U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, headed by Chairman John Thune (R-S.D.), has promoted two staffers while adding a new member to the staffing team.

The moves came as word surfaced regarding the death of former Sen. Pete Domenici, who FCC Chairman Ajit Pai paid tribute to.

Thune on Tuesday promoted Crystal Tully to policy director and counsel for communications and technology. She has worked on the Commerce Committee’s communications and technology policy team as counsel since March and served previously in the offices of Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Sen. John Sununu (R-N.H.).

At the same time, Cort Bush has been promoted from “professional staff member” to “senior professional staff member” on the communications and technology policy team. Prior to his service on the Commerce Committee, he worked in the offices of Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), Rep. Mary Bono (R-Calif.), and Sen. Gordon Smith (R-Ore.), now the NAB’s Chairman/CEO.

Lastly, Brianna Manzelli has joined the Commerce Committee as press secretary and digital director. She previously worked in the press office of the Republican National Committee as well as the private sector.

Meanwhile, Capitol Hill on Wednesday afternoon was swift to react to the passing of Domenici, a Republican from New Mexico. He was 85 and died from complications following a recent surgery, the Santa Fe New Mexican reports.

Pai was saddened to learn of the death of Sen. Domenici, who “left a lasting impact in so many areas of public policy and law.”

As a key Senate Budget Committee expert, Domenici saw the potential of spectrum auctions and helped engineer the compromise in the Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993, which gave the FCC the authority to conduct such auctions, Pai noted.

As Budget Committee Chairman in 1997, Domenici drafted and shepherded the Balanced Budget Act, which greatly expanded the auctions program. “Thereafter, he actively supported the Commission’s work in this area,” Pai said. “All this makes Senator Domenici’s legacy in communications policy a rich one: he helped pave the way for the mobile revolution that continues to this day and enabled the FCC to deliver substantial funds to the Treasury for deficit reduction and other purposes.  And not least, he was a kind and decent man, as I learned firsthand during my time as a Senate staffer.”

Pai worked with Sen. Domenici’s daughter, Helen, when she served as Chief of the FCC’s International Bureau.

Domenici was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 1972 and did not seek re-election in 2007.