Is congressional candidate Jessica Ehrlich embellishing her resume?

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In materials her campaign is widely distributing, Democratic congressional candidate Jessica Ehrlich implies that she staffed two congressional committees while working for two different members of the US House. However, a review of Ehrlich’s work history and a conversation with Representative Clay Shaw — one of the congressional members Ehrlich worked for — paints a different picture of Ehrlich’s curriculum vitae, raising questions as to whether the political newcomer is embellishing her resume.

“She practiced law with her father before working for Rep. Clay Shaw on the Social Security Subcommittee of the Committee on Ways and Means. Ehrlich then serves as counsel for Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA) on the Financial Services Committee,” reads several different fliers that have been distributed by the Ehrlich campaign, including at a recent voter forum in Gulfport.

There is no doubt that Ehrlich worked for both Reps. Shaw and Lynch. However, the nature of her work is what is in question. There is a significant difference between working as a Personal Staff Member and a Professional Staff Member.

A Professional Staff Member is assumed to have a level of expertise related of the committee they serve. Professional Staff Members are, on average, paid significantly more than Personal Staff Members, whose ranks include secretaries and schedulers.

By stating that she worked “for Rep. Clay Shaw on the Social Security Subcommittee of the Committee on Ways and Means”, Ehrlich is attempting to imply that she has some sort of expertise on issues related to Social Security and/or congressional appropriations.

“At best, it is very ambiguous whether she worked for the two Congressmen or whether she worked on the committees as a staffer,” said Dr. Darryl Paulson, a retired University of South Florida St. Petersburg political scientist.

Rep. Clay Shaw — Ehrlich’s former boss — is not ambiguous about her work for him.

“I don’t even remember her,” said Rep. Shaw who, after a review of his records and conversations with his senior staff, made it clear that Ehrlich did not assist him on any matters related to his work on the Social Security Subcommittee of the Committee on Ways and Means.

When asked about the specific language Ehrlich uses on her fliers, Rep. Shaw said, “I don’t know why she would say that.”

Attempts to contact Ehrlich’s campaign for comment went unanswered. Perhaps the Tampa Bay TimesCraig Pittman can get to the bottom of this.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including,,, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.