Politics Blog

Posted By: Joe Garofoli | January 04 2011 at 05:56 PM

Bakersfield — As we told you the other day in our profile, Bakersfield’s own Rep. Kevin McCarthy becomes the House Majority Whip at 9 a.m. (Left Coast time) Wednesday — the No. 3 Republican position. You can watch the swearing-in festivities streamed live here.

During our conversation in Bakersfield over pasta with beans, McCarthy explained why he appointed Tim Berry his chief of staff. That’s the same Tim Berry who held the same position with convicted money launderer (and former House Whip) Rep. Tom “The Hammer” DeLay.

“But I didn’t know him from DeLay,” McCarthy said. (DeLay and Berry left Congress before McCarthy arrived.) McCarthy met Berry through other members.

Still, on paper — at least — hiring Berry doesn’t look good. The guy worked for DeLay, who for those scoring at home has a prominent role in at least two major movies that feature his relationship with convicted fraud Jack Abramoff . Berry is a former lobbyist (for Time-Warner). Doesn’t hiring Berry speak to the revolving door of government and all that’s wrong with Congress?

“No,” McCarthy said. “If you take what he did and go and talk to anybody — he wasn’t involved in anything that people accuse on the negative side of DeLay. He wasn’t there. He wasn’t brought up (for charges.)”

But Berry did get a trip to the Super Bowl from Abramoff and a golf club.

“If you met him and claimed he was a lobbyist — it was Time-Warner and the movie industry,” McCarthy said. “He’s never lobbied me from that perspective. If you study his background — he’s not an Ivy League pedigree. He actually played ball, too. He played team sports.”

As we noted in our profile of McCarthy — a chief recruiter of the new Republican class coming to Congress — it included very few folks with Ivy League resumes. And McCarthy is all about being a good team player, thus the high marks for team play.

“This guy is one of the more ethical (people),” McCarthy said. “He is more sensitive to never even taking you close to the line because of what he watched people get in trouble for.”

And, according to several Beltway sources, Berry is excellent at his job: Helping the Whip run the floor.

In other McCarthy-related first day of the new GOP Congress items:

Those who know the well-liked McCarthy say he faces two challenges when he begins his new gig. One, how to govern in the majority (he’s always been in the minority, whether in California or DC.) And two, can he delegate? He likes to work almost constantly.

First, he said, “I don’t think we won the majority — I think they lost it. So we have to prove it.

To read entire story, click here.