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New Congressman Dennis Ross Brings in Experienced Staff

January 4, 2011 - 6:00pm

Dennis Ross was sworn in as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives Wednesday, becoming the ninth person to represent Floridas 12th Congressional District. And looking at the veteran staff he's recruited, he begins with considerable style.

On behalf of all the citizens of the 12th district, I took the oath of office today, swearing before my fellow citizens and God to support and defend the Constitution of the United States, said Ross, who will represent most of Polk County as well as parts of Hillsborough and Osceola counties. I take that oath very seriously and intend to always act in the best interest of our great nation. The months and years ahead will be full of tough decisions and difficult choices. I ask my fellow citizens to keep me and my new colleagues in their prayers. Today is a profound honor for me and my family, and I will never forget who made this day possible the citizens of the 12th district.

A native of Lakeland, Ross served eight years in the Florida House before being term-limited in 2008. A graduate of the Cumberland School of Law at Sanford University, Ross worked in the legal department of the Walt Disney Company and at Holland & Knight. With that background, Ross naturally ended up on the Judiciary Committee and he will also serve on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

Defeating Democratic candidate Polk County Elections Supervisor Lori Edwards and TEA Party nominee Polk County Commissioner Randy Wilkinson back in November, Ross replaced Adam Putnam who was sworn in Tuesday as the states commissioner of agriculture and consumer services.

Ross may be a new member of Congress, but he took care to hire experienced hands to staff his office.

Fred Piccolo, who served as Ross campaign manager, is Ross chief of staff. While Piccolo has a good deal of experience in Florida, including serving as political director for Bill McCollums bid to be attorney general, he also has experience on the Hill, working for Sunshine State Republican U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis and U.S. Rep. Chris Cannon, R-Utah. He also served as communications director at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

Ross named Anthony Foti as deputy chief of staff. An attorney based out of the Beltway, Foti worked as director of external affairs for the 2008 Republican National Convention. He also served as an aide to former U.S. Rep. Bill Paxson, R-N.Y., and to former New York Assembly Republican Leader John Faso, the Kinderhook politician best known for his unsuccessful attempts at state office, including losing to Eliot Spitzer in the 2006 gubernatorial race.

Ross selected former campaign aide and Cannon staffer Omar Raschid as his senior policy adviser while former Bilirakis staffer Elise Gately was chosen as one of the new congressmans legislative and policy analysts. Former Assistant State Attorney Charles Flint will also work as a legislative and policy analyst. Perianne Boring, a former intern in the Obama administration, will serve as constituent relations director, and Lisa Griffin --who worked for Ross as well as Sen. J.D. Alexander, R-Lake Wales, and former House Speaker Larry Cretul in Tallahassee --will be the new congressmans office coordinator.

Reach Kevin Derby at or at (850) 727-0859.

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