Days after George magazine branded Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.) as the toughest boss on Capitol Hill, the senator has lost another chief of staff.

After nearly 3 1/2 years, Shaila R. Aery has left to join the Hawthorn Group as president and chief operating officer of its Alexandria office.

The Hawthorn Group is a public relations company that represents, among other clients, the Southern Co., Virgin Atlantic Airways and Sony Corp.

Aery, who joined Mikulski's staff in 1996, was Maryland's secretary of higher education from 1989 to 1995 and got to know her new boss, John Ashford, Hawthorn chairman and CEO, when they worked on an education bond referendum in Missouri, where she was the state's commissioner of higher education in the 1980s.

As for George's allegation that Mikulski "runs through press secretaries and other staffers at a breathtaking rate," Aery says: "I don't know that it's quite true. She gets a bad rap."

Aery noted that four of the 10 people cited by George as the worst bosses are women, a high percentage given that 67 of the 535 lawmakers on the Hill are women.

Most Frequent Flier

Lobbyists seeking to round up another congressional aide for a junket need look no further than the office of Sen. Conrad Burns (R-Mont.). After a computerized check of congressional travel records, Congressional Quarterly has awarded Leo Giacometto, Burns's administrative assistant, the title of "most traveled staff member" on the Hill.

By CQ's reckoning, Giacometto hit the road 38 days in a 17-month period, all at someone else's expense. "He's getting his feet wet. There are a lot of things he has to learn," Burns told CQ.

Among the places Giacometto could wet his feet: Hilton Head, S.C.; Pebble Beach, Calif.; and Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Four of his 13 trips were sponsored by telecommunications companies, a subject of some interest to Burns, who chairs the Senate Commerce telecommunications subcommittee. Giacometto, a former U.S. marshal and Montana state legislator, declined to be interviewed.

"We try to limit taxpayer travel," said Burns spokesman Matt Raymond. The senator set a good example, according to CQ: Burns took 40 privately sponsored trips between Jan. 1, 1998, and May 14 at a reported cost of $72,887.

Camera-Shy Democrats

When members of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce gathered June 23 to mark up Republican-sponsored legislation that would delay implementation of new ergonomics standards, Democrats were upset that the only camera in the room was being operated for a lobbyist.

United Parcel Service, a big supporter of the GOP legislation, had hired a crew to film the event. Several Democrats wanted the film crew tossed out, apparently fearful that UPS might be gathering fodder for TV commercials their opponents might run this fall.

Committee Chairman William F. Goodling (R-Pa.) refused to eject the UPS crew, declaring that the session was open to all. A spokeswoman at the House Radio-TV Gallery says such calls are up to the committee chair. The gallery regulates only news cameras, not private cameras. Special-interest groups, such as labor unions, have sent cameras into committee rooms without Democratic objections, Republicans say.

And what will UPS do with its tape? "We're making the world's longest documentary in history on markups," joked UPS spokesman Tad Segal. He says the delivery firm wanted the tape "for internal use" and has taped other committee meetings. The company wanted an exact record of the markup, which went the way the delivery company wanted. The committee voted 21 to 18 to report the bill, which calls for more study of an ergonomic standard the Labor Department would like to impose.

A Match Made in PR Heaven

Goddard Claussen, the public affairs company that created the famous "Harry and Louise" ads that changed the debate about the Clinton health care proposals six years ago, was acquired yesterday by Porter Novelli, the big New York-based public relations firm. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

"This is a significant move that expands our ability to run integrated public affairs campaigns in Washington and across the country," said Charles V. Greener, general manager of Porter Novelli's Washington office. In addition to creating the TV ads that helped turn sentiment against the Clinton health care plan, Greener noted that California-based Goddard Claussen is a leader in managing ballot initiatives.

The public affairs company will operate as Goddard Claussen Porter Novelli.

The Revolving Door

And now the latest on Mark Gerchick's travels. A former deputy assistant transportation secretary, Gerchick is joining forces with Patrick V. Murphy Jr., a former deputy transportation secretary, to form Gerchick-Murphy Associates.

Gerchick left the administration in February and went to APCO Associates to open an international aviation practice. He soon left to form Gerchick, Korens Associates with Michael E. Korens, an APCO colleague and former Senate aviation aide. But in April, Korens left to join Sunrise Research Corp., the lobby shop of former senator Bob Packwood (R-Ore.), leaving Gerchick without a partner.

Bill McAllister's e-mail address is mcallisteb@washpost.com.