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July 29, 2014

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Harry Reid’s new chief of staff is top campaign donor

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Steve Marcus

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid waves as he finishes a news conference at Vdara Wednesday, November 3, 2010.

WASHINGTON - Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has selected a new chief of staff — David B. Krone, who has been his deputy chief of staff for the last two years, and whom Reid referred to as an "invaluable resource."

In more ways than one.

According to a study conducted this summer by the Center for Public Integrity, Krone is Reid’s single largest individual donor to Reid over the course of the leader’s career, giving $35,000 to Reid’s campaigns and political action committees.

But Reid’s office kind of skirted around that detail in making the announcement.

“David has been a friend for many years, and for the last two years he has been an invaluable resource and trusted advisor,” Reid said in the statement. “David’s experience in the private sector and commitment to public service will serve him well in this role as Chief of Staff.”

Krone joined Reid’s office at the end of 2008 as a “senior adviser,” later becoming his deputy chief of staff. According to salary reports, that’s a job that earned him about $165,000 per year — a respectable salary but far less than the nearly $5 million he earned in his last job: senior vice president for the Comcast corporation.

Krone has a long history in the telecommunications industry, and before that, the energy industry. He joined Comcast after a five-year term as executive vice president of the National Cable and Telecommunications Association — the primary trade arm of the cable industry — and has lobbied members of Congress on issues like broadband access; including a 2001 bill that Reid co-sponsored.

Krone also worked as a lobbyist for Duke Energy in the early 2000s while that company was lobbying Reid on energy measures concerning geothermal projects in Nevada and establishing a national commission on energy and climate change — though a spokesman for Krone told the Center for Public Integrity that he never lobbied on energy issues.

As deputy chief of staff, the Reid campaign said, Krone worked on “policy, message, and outreach operations” and “to build broad coalitions of support” for Reid’s and the Democrats’ platforms.

Krone will be at the top of Reid’s policy food chain — making him the senator’s primary adviser on matters he once lobbied on. For instance: Comcast is embroiled in merger negotiations with NBC Universal; a potential union that has raised a general cry of alarm in the media industry among members concerned with too much consolidation.

At least one senator — Bernie Sanders of Vermont, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats, and to whom Krone donated in 2006, when he first won his Senate seat — has asked the Federal Communications Commission to block the merger.

Sanders, who filed his request earlier this week, says the deal would have a detrimental effect on diversity and competition among media outlets — and hinted that Comcast had stepped up its campaign contributions to influence Congress. While lawmakers don’t themselves have an official say in the merger, they can, like Sanders, urge the FCC one way or the other. The FCC has to rubber stamp any merger for it to be finalized.

Meanwhile, Reid’s former chief of staff, Gary Myrick, is leaving the majority leader’s office to become secretary of the majority for the Senate Democratic Caucus — the body of Senate Democrats also headed up by Reid.

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