Two with Chicago ties join Obama team

Dec. 6, 2008 at 5:56 PM

WASHINGTON, Dec. 6 (UPI) -- U.S. President-elect Barack Obama has added two more high-level staffers with ties to his hometown of Chicago.

Obama has added to his White House staff attorney Tina Tchen and his former U.S. Senate counsel, Michael Strautmanis, the Chicago Sun-Times reported Saturday.

The newspaper said Tchen and Strautmanis will both report to Valerie Jarrett, whom Obama has picked to serve as a senior adviser and assistant to the president for intergovernment relations and public liaison.

Specifically, Tchen, a partner at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, was appointed White House director of public liaison and Strautmanis will serve as Jarrett's chief of staff and assistant to the president.

Tchen is "extraordinarily gifted in listening and reaching out," Jarrett said.

Strautmanis was a paralegal for Obama's wife Michelle at the Chicago law firm of Sidley & Austin when she encouraged him to attend law school. He was chief counsel and deputy chief of staff in Obama's Senate office. He served as senior counsel in Obama's presidential campaign.

Strautmanis was legislative director and counsel for then-Rep. Rod Blagojevich who went on to work for his first gubernatorial campaign.

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