Bennet names senior advisors, communication director to D.C., Colorado offices

Author: Ernest Luning - April 21, 2017 - Updated: April 23, 2017

U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet addresses the Colorado Democratic Party's 84th Annual Dinner on March 11, 2017, at the Marriott Denver City Center. (Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman)
U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet addresses the Colorado Democratic Party’s 84th Annual Dinner on March 11, 2017, at the Marriott Denver City Center. (Photo by Ernest Luning/The Colorado Statesman)

U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet announced the addition of several staffers to his Washington, DC., and Colorado offices on Friday, including two senior advisors who previously worked in the Obama White House and the former state executive director of the USDA Colorado Farm Service Agency.

“We are fortunate to have these outstanding additions to our state, policy, and communications teams,” Bennet said in a statement. “Not only do they bring a wide range of experience and expertise to the table, but they also will be committed advocates for the people of Colorado.”

The new hires at the Colorado Democrat’s Washington office are:

Charlie Anderson is Bennet’s new senior adviser for tax policy and economic policy development. He has held jobs with the Obama administration, including on the White House Domestic Policy Council, at the Treasury Department, and, most recently, as a special assistant to the president for Economic Policy and senior advisor to the director of the White House National Economic Council.

Candace Vahlsing is the senator’s new senior advisor for energy, climate and the environment. She was a senior policy advisor for energy and climate change at the White House Domestic Policy Council and worked with the National Security Council. She’s also worked at the Council on Environmental Quality, on President Obama’s re-election campaign and for the California Air Resources Board.

Samantha Slater is Bennet’s new communications director. She most recently worked as executive director of the House Democratic Policy and Communications Committee. Before that, she was U.S. Rep. Steve Israel’s communications director. She’s also worked at the New York City Department of Small Business Services, as press secretary for U.S. Rep. Joe Donnelly from Indiana, and as a journalist for Politico.

Vivek Chilukuri is a new speechwriter and policy advisor for the senator. He held the same posts at the Department of State for the under secretary for civilian security, democracy, and human rights. Before that, he worked for the National Democratic Institute, helping foster political parties and civic engagement across North Africa.

Shannon Beckham is a new communications advisor on Bennet’s staff. She wrote speeches for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and her running mate, U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine, during the 2016 campaign and previously had an internship in speechwriting at the White House.

Bennet’s new hires in Colorado are:

Lee Swenson is the senator’s new senior advisor on Colorado rural policy. Previously, he was the appointed state executive director of the USDA Colorado Farm Service Agency.

Lily Griego will be Colorado community liaison for Bennet after working on his reelection campaign. She’s worked in the community planning and development field for local and regional governments.

Sarah Andrews will be regional representative for Colorado’s Central Mountains Region. She’d previously worked as millennial vote director and deputy state field director for the Colorado Democratic Party and worked on Clinton’s primary campaign in Iowa, Arizona and Colorado. Before that, she had an internship at the White House.

Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning is a political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has covered politics and government for newspapers and online news sites in Colorado for more than 25 years, including at the Highlands Ranch Herald, the Jefferson Sentinels chain of community newspapers and the Aurora Sentinel, where he was the city hall and cops reporter. After editing the Aurora Daily Sun, he was a political reporter and blogger for The Colorado Independent site. For nearly a decade, he was a senior political reporter and occasional editor at The Colorado Statesman before the 119-year-old publication merged with Colorado Politics in 2017.

One comment

  • Jeffrey

    April 24, 2017 at 6:07 am

    Why does he need all these expensive advisors when he just votes “NO” on everything the Republicans and the President introduce or nominate? It seems like a waste of money to me. His real advisor is the DNC, the organization from which he takes his orders.

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