Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) sobbed on the Senate floor Thursday, lamenting that his right-hand man, Kyle Simmons, was leaving his side after 14 years of service. But if he wants to grab lunch with his outgoing chief of staff in the future, McConnell won't have to go far.
Politico and CNN's Political Ticker both noted McConnell's blubbering on the floor Thursday, but didn't connect it to this Feb. 2 Roll Call story reporting that Simmons is leaving to start up a lobbying firm with another chief of staff.
"He has made the right decision, as he usually does," McConnell said, in between choking up and blowing his nose, citing the strain that a senior-level Congressional job has on family life.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, this video of McConnell breaking down while talking about Simmons -- for the entire 18 minutes, crying most of the way through it -- must be worth a couple million bucks.
According to Roll Call, Simmons plans to set up a bipartisan lobby shop with Bob Russell and Tom Ingram, former senior aides to Sens. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.). Alexander is the third-ranking Republican. The Hill reported that Bernie Toon, a former chief of staff to Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), who's now a lobbyist with Bechtel Group, is also joining Simmons in the effort.
Simmons will be barred for one year from lobbying his former colleagues, but can take on contracts and offer "strategic advice."
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) followed McConnell and acknowledged how hard it is to lose a staffer such as Simmons, even if he's only going a few blocks away and will doubtless make countless visits to his former colleagues. "There's nothing I can say to sway the anguish that my friend Sen. McConnell feels right now," Reid said. "These people become part of us, as we can see that Kyle Simmons has become part of Mitch McConnell."
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