Jon Ossoff has been inflating his resume throughout this race, constantly misleading Georgia voters about his experience. PolitiFact Georgia is the latest to call Ossoff out for resume puffery, declaring Ossoff’s statement “I’ve got five years of experience as a national security staffer in the U.S. Congress,” as HALF TRUE. This rating indicates Ossoff left out important details or takes things out of context. Hate to say it, but we told you so!
Georgia voters deserve someone who will be honest, and Jon Ossoff has failed to do just that.
How extensive was Jon Ossoff’s national security background in Congress?
By Louis Jacobson
April 3, 2017
In Georgia’s closely watched congressional special election, the surprisingly strong Democratic candidate, Jon Ossoff, has touted his policy experience in national security — and taken heat for allegedly embellishing it.
However, opponents raised questions about his experience, noting that Ossoff had worked on Capitol Hill between 2007 and 2012 but had only earned his undergraduate degree from Georgetown University in 2009. That would make him a pretty junior staffer to be touting his national security experience.
Moreover, his title — legislative correspondent — is not exactly a lofty one. Here’s how the Congressional Management Foundation describes it: “Researches and writes legislative correspondence; conducts legislative research; assists legislative assistants as needed.”
In other words, the primary job of a legislative correspondent is to answer mail from the lawmaker’s constituents and to backfill for more senior office staffers when necessary.
In 2009, one of the years Ossoff held the position, the median salary for a legislative correspondent was $38,875, more than the $37,504 for a staff assistant and well below the next rung up on the ladder — legislative assistant at $50,500, according to the Congressional Research Service.
And what do staff assistants do? According to the Congressional Management Foundation, a staff assistant “handles word processing, filing, faxing; responds to general constituent requests; processes tour and flag requests; staffs the front reception area, greets visitors and answers telephones.”
In other words, a typical legislative correspondent is getting just $1,300 a year more than the (usually equally junior) staffer manning the reception desk.
Norman Ornstein, a longtime Congress-watcher at the American Enterprise Institute, said Ossoff’s statement amounts to “resume inflation,” though, in his opinion, a “rather benign” example.
“Legislative correspondent is a junior staff position, but it at least requires that the staffer know enough about his boss’s policy positions that he can write letters, both to constituents and executive agencies, that are accurate and in some cases nuanced,” he said.
A better phrasing, Ornstein said, would have been that he spent “five years as a staffer in the U.S. Congress, including work on national security.”
Ossoff said, “I’ve got five years of experience as a national security staffer in the U.S. Congress.”
This description certainly applies to his final three years on Capitol Hill, which were spent in middle- to senior-level foreign policy posts. Whether it applies to his first two years working for the lawmaker is less clear cut.
That said, Ossoff at the time was an undergraduate student holding a part-time position that, in the Capitol Hill pecking order, was entry-level. That adds relevant context, and he left it out.
We rate the statement Half True.