[PROFILE] Local Congressman Adam Schiff Gaining In Profile, Taking on National Issues

Congressman Schiff speaks during a tour of the Rim of the Valley, a proposed addition to the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.

If you’ve ever watched CNN, even just on occasion, chances are you’re familiar with U.S. Congressman Adam Schiff. Schiff, who represents California’s 28th congressional district, which includes Los Feliz, Silver Lake and Hollywood, is not only Wolf Blitzer’s chosen spokesperson to appear on the cable news network regarding terrorist activities, but he recently introduced a constitutional amendment that would improve the regulation of campaign spending by overturning the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United, said he believes Congress’s “hyper-partisanship” has made government “very dysfunctional.”


Schiff said he is hopeful, however, and that he believes “a lot of challenges could be easily overcome if we had a better functioning government.”


He referenced a quote from former President Bill Clinton, “There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured by what is right with America.”


Schiff, who grew up in Boston, said he was always heavily influenced by the Kennedys’ ethic of service and that the idea of service has always been central to his career aspirations.


He said his parents also instilled the idea that everyone “had to make a contribution in one way or another.”


Although Schiff did not originally set his sights on Congress, or even politics in general—he began college as a pre-med student, though he did major in political science—it was his sense of service that brought him there after six years working for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.


In January, following an invitation from U.S. House of Representatives Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Schiff became the leading Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, which oversees the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, and the DEA, among several other federal departments.


According to Schiff, she chose him because of his background in investigation. His appointment came when the committee was beginning their investigation into the CIA’s destruction of 92 interrogation tapes, which resulted in a 2009 ACLU lawsuit.


He said he was surprised by Pelosi’s invitation, as he did not petition to be a member of the committee, but was eager to join. And now, according to one of his staffers, he is in such high demand that they have had to tell CNN that Schiff can’t be on television seven days a week.


The committee is one of the least partisan in Congress, according to Schiff, who said he believes this is due, in part, to its closed-door meetings, which curb “grandstanding” for constituents and allow for more open lines of communication between parties, which Schiff said he appreciates.


“I didn’t come here to just throw bombs at the other side,” he said.


Schiff’s father, who was a staunch Democrat, and his mother, who was an equally staunch Republican, instilled a sense of bipartisanship in him from a young age.


“They taught me that neither party has a monopoly on good judgment,” he said.


Not only is Schiff taking on Citizen’s United, but he’s tackled other high profile issues as well.


Congressman Schiff rides his bike on the first leg of the LA2DC marathon to raise genocide awareness.


He and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the Republican representative for Florida’s 27th district, recently introduced legislation that would reform “youth boot camps,” some of which use physically and emotionally abusive tactics in an attempt to “reform” LGBT youths.


Additionally, Schiff worked with Republican John Culberson, who is also a member of the Tea Party caucus, to defend funding for NASA’s Mars program, a series of missions to collect soil samples and gather information about Mars.


“We feel free to disagree…and we don’t let it poison the well for other issues [we can agree on],” Schiff said.


Schiff, who has a wife named Eve—”So we’re Adam and Eve,” he said, chuckling—a 17-year-old and a 12-year-old, has achieved a similar balance between his work and home life, although he said it has been challenging.


“At all of my previous jobs, I would work until all the work was done, then go home. If I did that [in congress], I’d never go home,” he said.


Schiff, who lives in Burbank, splits his time between home and Washington, D.C.


But, he said, he sets aside specific family time and then builds his work schedule around it, instead of the other way around.


Schiff said he likes to stay active, whether participating in triathlons or hiking in Griffith Park with the Sierra Club, and he was the first member of Congress to participate in the AIDS/LifeCycle ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles.


“It’s a great way to get to know your constituents,” he said of the ride.

By:  Erin Hickey
Source: Los Feliz Ledger