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Capitol Hill Pays Tribute to Veteran Staffer Robert Getzoff
Posted at 11:31 a.m. on July 25, 2013
Robert Getzoff, a longtime Capitol Hill staffer with deep community ties, died on July 15. Reps. Mike Quigley, D-Ill., and Timothy H. Bishop, D-N.Y., recently memorialized him on the floor of the House, paying tribute to his long Hill career in a joint statement submitted for the Congressional Record.
“Rob began his Hill career in the office of his idol, Sen. Ted Kennedy, and tackled every aspect of his Hill career with the passion and dedication to public service exemplified by the late senator. Rob’s impressive record of accomplishment was built on his distinguished academic credentials. He held a bachelor’s degree from George Washington University, a law degree from Temple University, and an MBA from Georgetown University. In addition to his service on the Hill, he added to his impressive credentials by becoming an expert in financial services regulatory policy while working for industry leaders including Citigroup and Bank of New York Mellon.
“Rob was a true policy wonk and a brilliant political strategist. He defended his views with passion whether he was trying to expand the Earned Income Tax Credit to help low-income Americans, explaining the greatness of ’80s hard rock, or the eating habits of Great Cats. He was unrelenting in pushing his colleagues to do the right thing, whether the question at hand was a pivotal vote or a quality timepiece. He left a legacy of legislative accomplishments including meaningful lobbying reform, janitors insurance, closing the corporate jet loophole, and reducing the size of the ‘tax gap.’ He also played a pivotal role in drafting comprehensive tax reform legislation that made the tax code simpler and fairer for all Americans.”
Private funeral services were held in Philadelphia.
Pete Spiro, a former legislative director in ex-Rep. Rahm Emanuel’s office, recalled that Getzoff was respected and well-liked with a great sense of humor. “People took an instant liking to Rob. He made friends with everyone and always made the time to maintain those friendships. During the early years in Rahm’s office in the House, Rob brought the most experience to the back office and contributed to everything we did. He could add levity to even the most challenging situations.”
Jonathan Levy, a former Hill staffer who also worked closely with Getzoff in Emanuel’s office, remembered him as an outstanding colleague and a tremendous friend. “Rob’s sense of humor was legendary on the Hill, and there wasn’t a day that went by where he didn’t make one of us laugh. I sat only a few feet away from him in Rahm’s office, and learned from him on a wide array of topics — from drafting my first bill to which rock bands I needed to hear. Anyone who knew Rob already misses him terribly, and we were all lucky to have had him in our lives.”
I, too, remember Getzoff from our shared time on Capitol Hill. As both Spiro and Levy attested, he was friendly, outgoing and always willing to make time for other staffers. He understood legislative policy well — one of the few MBAs to work in Congress — and was committed to public service. He never forgot that the policies he worked on affected real people. Even as his boss rose through leadership ranks, he was always even-keeled and kind, easy to work with and someone who always kept his word.
As Quigley and Bishop said in their floor statement, “[Rob] was taken from us prematurely, and so many people are devastated by this loss. But Rob wouldn’t want us to be sad. He would say, ‘Go out and enjoy your young life.’ He would want us to put on some Green Day, walk past the Capitol Dome and remember why we came to Washington in the first place. The best way to honor Rob is to do a great job while giving everything you have to some great friends. Rob, we miss you already.”