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The committee has been plagued by dysfunction, tragedy and staff vacancies recently. In the summer of 2008, the committee's chairwoman, Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, died unexpectedly. The committee then functioned with an interim chair and interim staff director, but made little progress on investigations.
Lofgren took leadership of the Committee in February, but struggled to find a staff director with enough inside knowledge of the House to be effective, but without a partisan reputation that would lead to allegations of bias from either side.Although other vacancies remain, a senior Congressional staffer familiar with the work of the committee said the hire of Chisam clears the way for significantly faster progress on the investigations of Rangel and others. Rangel has denied any wrongdoing.
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