- Associated Press - Monday, May 9, 2016

DETROIT (AP) - Nick Hawatmeh has been a political animal since the age of 11, when Congressman Sander Levin spoke at his school’s Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) graduation, as did Hawatmeh. After the graduation, and without asking permission from his parents, Hawatmeh invited the Congressman over for lunch.

“We discussed the intricacies of American politics as well as the differences between Democrats and Republicans,” he says. “Not really knowing where I fell on the political spectrum, I began doing research on my own. After spending countless hours researching both sides, I came to realize that I was a Republican - and six months later, I began volunteering on Congressman Levin’s Republican opponent’s campaign.”

Actively involved since then in city, county, state and national politics, Hawatmeh currently serves as Counsel at the U.S. House of Representatives, House Administration Committee, the Detroit Legal News (https://bit.ly/1W2M5rD ) reported.

“My parents came to this country from Jordan, hoping they could provide a better life for their children than they had for themselves,” he explains. “They instilled in me a great pride and appreciation for the United States and taught me the importance of giving back, and from a very young age, that’s all I ever wanted to do.”

Hawatmeh launched his career path by earning his undergrad degree in political science from Wayne State University, where in addition to making the Dean’s List, he was president of the Wayne State College Republicans, vice president of the Multicultural Law Student Association, and a member of the Pre-Law Student Association.

He then headed to the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law (now Detroit Mercy Law).

“I’ve always enjoyed advocating for those who did not necessarily have a voice,” he says. “I came to realize that politics and law have many parallels, such as representing people who come to you to fix a problem or advocate on their behalf. Law school seemed like a natural fit for me.”

At Detroit Mercy, he was active in Moot Court competitions, served as president of the International Law Society, was co-chair of the Voice for Justice Public Interest Auction, a student member of the State Bar of Michigan, an ex-officio council member for the International Law Section and a member of the Arab American and Chaldean Law Society.

“The school’s practical approach to the law, combined with its Catholic mission not only helped me to be good lawyer, but also a good public servant,” he adds. “My professors, deans, and colleagues were among the best in their respective fields and encouraged students to think outside of the box.”

Hawatmeh also was elected as president of the Student Bar Association and as speaker at the commencement ceremony.

“It was an honor and incredibly rewarding,” he says. “I was lucky to work with so many talented colleagues to give the student body a voice as the law school went through many transitions. My goal was to ensure the student body was included in all major decisions made by the law school and together we were successful.”

After earning his J.D., Hawatmeh spent two years as vice chairman of the Michigan Republican Party in Lansing.

“In American politics today there are countless people in leadership positions who like to do all of the talking, but for me the most rewarding part of being a vice-chairman was being able to listen,” he says. “By listening to our committed Republican grassroots activists across the state, I was able to gain several perspectives on different issues affecting the livelihood of everyday people. It was a joy to be able to talk to these activists across Michigan and learn about the people who year after year help secure Republican victories across the nation.

“This process gave me the opportunity to create lifelong friends and mentors, and is an experience I will not soon forget.”

In January 2015, Hawatmeh took his current position as Counsel for the Committee on House Administration that, under the leadership of Chairman Candice Miller (R-Michigan), has oversight of federal elections and has a hand in shaping legislation that touches on any and all aspects of federal elections. The committee also has oversight of the Library of Congress, the Botanic Gardens, and the Smithsonian Institution as well as all House officers.

Hawatmeh’s work includes retaining thorough knowledge of election law, campaign finance law, employment law, House Rules, Committee Rules, the Constitution, and statutes that apply to the legislative process; providing counsel to committee members and staff regarding the committee’s legislative activity and parliamentary procedures and relevant rules; assisting in the development and execution of the committee’s oversight and legislative agenda and all oversight matters; monitoring activities of the Federal Election Commission and Election Assistance Commission and legal developments in areas under the committee’s jurisdiction; assisting the Committee’s monitoring activities for potential contested elections; and investigating and researching claims in election contests and advising committee members on disposition of contests.

“My work is stimulating and exciting,” he says. “Since it’s a Speaker-appointed committee, I’ve had the honor of meeting and working for Speaker Ryan and Speaker Boehner, and the pleasure of meeting several heads of state, ambassadors, and political leaders from the United States and all over the world.

“D.C. is the place many of the country’s power brokers call home,” he adds. “There’s an air about D.C. that reminds you that you really are in the middle of where everything important happens. To be able to walk to the White House and all of the historic monuments, work at the U.S. Capitol, and meet people from all over the world and from all walks of life is amazing. There is always something to do and people to see.”

Being able to work at the U.S. Capitol is a privilege and honor, he notes.

“Whether it was standing in front of Pope Francis when he visited the U.S. Capitol, or sitting next to Mitt Romney while attending Speaker Ryan’s swearing-in ceremony, or briefing members of our committee on the House floor, these are just some of the wonderful experiences I will cherish for the rest of my life,” he says.

The Warren native was selected several years ago to be featured in the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn as one of the youngest Arab Americans to be involved in politics.

“I’m grateful to be highlighted among several important Arab Americans, including John Sununu, Casey Kasem, Salma Hayek, Ray LaHood and many others,” he says.

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Information from: Detroit Legal News, https://www.legalnews.com/detroit

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