Congressman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) has upset the House seniority system to chair the Energy and Commerce Committee, a move that will require him to step down as chairman of the investigative committee whose powers he abused while helping his trial lawyer friends harass Blackwater.
Longtime loyal Waxman staffer Philip Schiliro (pictured at right) is moving up Pennsylvania Avenue, where President-Elect Barack Obama has named him chief of White House congressional relations. Schiliro is leaving as the ultra-partisan staff director of the Committee on Government Reform and Oversight, from which he ran the anti-Blackwater hearings in partnership with trial lawyers as they sued the company.
Within two weeks of trial lawyer Daniel Callahan writing to Waxman requesting partisan attacks on Blackwater, Schiliro told the Washington Post that he planned to focus the committee investigations on Iraq, contracting, and the response to Hurricane Katrina - coincidentally the exact issues that had generated controversy for Blackwater. The Post noted at the time that when run by the Republicans under the chairmanship of Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.), the Committee had a "relatively bipartisan tone." Schiliro turned it into an ultra-partisan attack machine.