Sorry, Judge. It’s not you. It’s the election year.

July 31, 2012

if we were to play Monopoly with Fred Hochberg, we’d want him to be the banker: He’s chairman and president of the Export-Import Bank of the United States.

Hochberg developed his business chops as the longtime president and chief operating officer of Lillian Vernon, a mail-order company his mother founded and that he helped turn into a publicly traded powerhouse. A former deputy administrator of the Small Business Administration, he became a bundler for President Obama’s campaign and later served on his transition team.

He chats with the Loop about how he literally got his start in a mail room, his unlikely kinship with John McLaughlin, and his terrifying trainer.

What’s your favorite non-work-related Web site/app/magazine?

I check out the New Yorker’s Web site every Monday to see that week’s cartoons. I’ve been collecting the original drawings of these cartoons for 25 years and I have more than 100.

Fill in the blank: People would be surprised to know that I _________.

Have a SmarTrip card, and when I can, I commute by bus.

What’s your dream job?

Architect.

What motivated you to go into public service?

My mother’s family fled Nazi Germany in 1933. They lost everything. But my family was able to start over here in the United States. I was at my mother’s side as she built a business that became one of the great success stories of American entrepreneurship. I have to admit, I get a little choked-up when a hardworking small-business owner tells me about their success building a business through exporting overseas. It’s hard to explain just how proud people are to say that their businesses are “Made in America” and succeeding. But I get it. And it gets me up every morning.

Favorite TV show?

I actually don’t watch a lot of television, but I have to admit one of my favorite time slots is Sunday morning. I jump on the elliptical machine at the gym and watch all the political shows — what I sometimes call “Yell TV.” I definitely burn more calories on Sunday mornings.

Which character from that show do you most identify with?

John McLaughlin. He and I used to see one another occasionally on flights to Florida in the winter. As we departed the flight, I’d say: “Bye, bye!” [McLaughlin’s signature sign-off] and he never seemed annoyed.

What subject, other than your work, do you know the most about?

Food and design.

What’s the best job you have ever had?

The best job I’ve ever had is without a doubt my current one. However, next on the list would have to be a summer during high school I spent working for “Good Housekeeping” in the mail room. It was my first “grown-up job.”

Fill in the blank: I’m scared of _________________.

Matt, my trainer; before the morning weigh-in.

What’s one word you wish people would use to describe you?

Job-creator.

Background Check is a Loop feature in which we grill various government types about their
lives on and off the clock. Please send suggestions for future subjects to intheloop@
washpost.com.

Senate Democrats failed Monday evening in an effort to end a filibuster on the nomination of Magistrate Judge Robert Bacharach to a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit.

With 60 votes needed to break the filibuster by Republican senators, the Democrats failed by four votes. All 51 Democrats present voted to end the roadblock to the Oklahoma judge’s elevation.

They were joined by two independents. Three Republicans — Olympia Snowe (Maine), Susan Collins (Maine) and Scott Brown (Mass.) — broke ranks to vote with the Democrats to allow the nomination to come to an up-or-down vote.

But enough GOP senators fell in line behind a reported party decision to freeze any action on appeals court nominations — something that has become a Senate tradition in presidential election years.

Even Oklahoma’s Tom Coburn and James Inhofe , who had strongly backed Bacharach, voted “present,” as did Utah’s Orrin Hatch, effectively voting to maintain the filibuster.

Bacharach, who was nominated in January, was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee by voice vote, with one recorded vote against him.

Monday’s vote, observers said, makes it highly unlikely that the other three appellate nominees pending on the Senate floor will be approved this year.

New role for Giffords aide

Pia Carusone, who served as chief of staff to now-retired congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), has a job in President Obama’s administration: She’s the new assistant secretary for public affairs at the Department of Homeland Security.

Carusone won plaudits on Capitol Hill for her handling of the aftermath of the 2011 shooting rampage in Tucson that left six people dead and more than a dozen injured, including Giffords, who resigned from Congress to focus on her recovery. In the weeks that followed the shooting, with Giffords in the hospital, Carusone helmed the office and its traumatized staff ( Gabe Zimmerman , a Giffords aide, was killed in the shooting) and served as the spokeswoman on the tragedy, which attracted international attention.

DHS said in announcing the hire: “Pia brings a wealth of experience in communications and homeland security issues in Congress, and in her new role will advise the Secretary on all matters related to public affairs, as well as oversee strategic and internal communications. Pia and her team will be responsible for coordinating the public affairs activities of all of the Department’s components and offices, and serve as the federal government’s lead public information office during national emergencies or disasters.”

With Emily Heil

The blog: washingtonpost.com/
intheloop. Twitter: @InTheLoopWP.

BACKGROUND CHECK: FRED HOCHBERG

Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993.
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