POLITICS

Harry Reid Hires Longtime Labor Ally As Economic Staffer

02/20/2015 04:00 pm ET | Updated Feb 20, 2015
ASSOCIATED PRESS

WASHINGTON -- Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has hired Ellen Doneski, a longtime aide to former Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) who is highly regarded by the American labor movement.

Doneski will be the top tax policy expert on Reid's staff and will be involved in most economic issues, a Reid aide said.

"It's great news," said Bill Samuel, top lobbyist at the AFL-CIO, the nation's largest federation of labor unions. "And further proof that Senator Reid intends to take his fight for a progressive agenda to the next level."

Doneski's ties to unions date back to the late 1980s and early 1990s, when she worked with Samuel and current AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka at United Mine Workers, where they organized strikes to secure health care benefits for miners.

She spent several years working as top staffer on the Senate Commerce Committee under Rockefeller, who retired in January. In her new role, she'll replace Cathy Koch, who had worked as a lobbyist with General Electric and served as a Senate Finance Committee staffer under Max Baucus prior to joining Reid's office in 2013.

Reid has been recruiting progressives into the Democratic leadership since the party's losses in the 2014 mid-term election, most notably creating a new leadership post for Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), designed to reinforce liberal positions on economic policy in top Democratic ranks.

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