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Strong makes senior-level congressional staff appointments

A pair of political veterans have been named Friday by U.S. Rep.-elect Dale Strong (R-Huntsville) to senior-level staff positions.

Strong announced that Payne Griffin, who has served in policy roles since 2014 in Congress and with the Trump administration, will serve as Strong’s chief of staff in Washington. Dylan Smith, editor of Yellowhammer News, has been named Strong’s district director.

Griffin most recently served as the deputy legislative director for U.S. Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.), where he oversaw the senator’s work on the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Previously, Griffin was the deputy chief of staff at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative in the Trump administration. There, he participated in the administration’s actions with respect to the former president’s United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement negotiations and the investigations into unfair Chinese trade practices.

A seasoned staffer with experience on both sides of Capitol Hill, Griffin worked for former U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Mobile) on trade policy and other economic issues. He began his career in the U.S. House of Representatives in staff roles with former U.S. Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Birmingham) and U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Saks).

Griffin, a Birmingham native, received his bachelor’s degree from American University and studied the general course at the London School of Economics.

“I am thrilled to have Payne Griffin leading my team in Washington,” said Strong. “His experience on Capitol Hill and in the Trump administration will be invaluable as I assemble my staff and work to protect and grow north Alabama.”

In 2020, at the age of 25, Smith became the youngest-ever chairman of the Mountain Lakes Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. From 2018-21, Smith led the chamber’s public policy and advocacy committee. In this position, he was tasked with updating the chamber’s local, state and federal policy agendas.

Smith also sat on the former Jackson County Health Care Authority Board of Directors. In this role, the Scottsboro resident actively advocated for and supported the hospital’s transition into the Huntsville Hospital System.

Smith, a Sand Mountain native, was the founding managing editor of the Jackson Blaze and a contributor to The Daily Caller.

Prior to his entry into journalism, Smith held leadership positions within the Republican Party. This included serving as vice chair of the Jackson County Republican Executive Committee, chairman of the Young Republicans of Northeast Alabama, and member of the Alabama Republican Party State Executive Committee.

Smith attended Northeast Alabama Community College and Athens State University, majoring in business with concentrations in finance and economics.

“Dylan Smith is one of our great young conservative leaders and, through his work in the media, he understands the issues that drive our local economies and affect north Alabama families,” said Strong. “I want my district staff to be proactive and team with local leaders and businesses to help our communities achieve their full potential, and Dylan is the right guy to lead that effort.”

Yaffee is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts “The Yaffee Program” weekdays 9-11 a.m. on WVNN. You can follow him on Twitter @Yaffee

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