Gregg Nunziata will be the next general counsel for Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), bringing with him years of experience with judicial nominations and Senate Republican policy work, the senator's office announced.
Nunziata, 36, returns to Capitol Hill after more than a year as a senior adviser on the strategic implications of health care reform at The Advisory Board Company.
Before leaving Congress, Nunziata had advised Senate leaders during four of the past five U.S. Supreme Court nominations and also handled policy issues including homeland security, intellectual property and antitrust.
Rubio, who joined the Senate two years ago, has emerged as one of the Republican Party's national stars and a leader in the immigration reform debate. In a sign of his prominence within the GOP, Rubio delivered the party's response to President Barack Obama's State of the Union address in January.
"For somebody is in Senator Rubio's position, it would be a big help to have somebody like Gregg on staff," said Matthew Miner, a partner in Morgan Lewis's litigation practice, who was a colleague of Nunziata's at the Senate Judiciary Committee.
"Gregg is someone who has a sense of how the Senate has functioned in the past and how the rules and procedures work among the members," Miner said. "Having that knowledge is essential if you want to be an effective legislator in the Senate."
Nunziata will take on a traditional Senate general counsel role, including advising Rubio regarding the legal issues surrounding immigration reform, said Rubio spokesman Alex Conant. "He'll advise the office on everything from legislation to Senate ethics issues, also on judicial issues, including judicial nominations," Conant said.
Rubio serves on the Senate committees for Intelligence; Foreign Relations; Small Business and Entrepreneurship; and Commerce, Science, and Transportation. He is not a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, however.
Nunziata was a top adviser for a former Judiciary Committee chairman, Senator Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), including during the confirmation of two Supreme Court justices, according to his biography at The Advisory Board Company.
He later worked at the Senate Republican Policy Committee under Senator John Thune (R-S.D.), where he provided legal analysis and policy counsel on matters relating to the judiciary, homeland security, and Senate rules, Rubio’s office said. He worked as an adviser in the Department of Justice.
"I’m excited to welcome Gregg to our staff," Rubio said in a statement. "He brings valuable legal experience to the office and will be an important addition to our team as we look forward to serving Floridians in the months and years ahead. Gregg's experiences on Capitol Hill will be an asset as my office looks to play an important role in passing legislation to bolster the middle class, address our nation’s broken immigration system and benefit the people of Florida."
Conant said Nunziata was not available for comment Thursday.