NASHVILLE — Earlier this week, Ryan Loskarn was near the top of the U.S. Capitol Hill's elite, enjoying the confidence of Republican U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and others as the senator's chief of staff.
Today, the 35-year-old is scheduled to be in a Washington courtroom after his arrest Wednesday on charges of possession and distribution of child pornography. The situation already has cost the staffer his job. It could cost him his freedom if he's convicted of the allegations.
Loskarn's fall from grace, which made national news, began in the early morning Wednesday as U.S. Postal Service Inspection agents banged on the door of his southeast Washington home and shouted to be let in. They entered, searched the home and left with black bags, a computer and, eventually, a handcuffed Loskarn, according to video of the scene by an ABC affiliate.
Alexander, who initially suspended Loskarn after being informed of the search by the U.S. Senate legal counsel's office, later fired him, replacing him with David Cleary, a legislative director since 2011 and Republican staff director for the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee since 2012.
The senator said in a statement he was "stunned, surprised and disappointed by what I have learned. Based on this information, I immediately placed Mr. Loskarn on administrative leave without pay. The office is fully cooperating with the investigation."
Alexander said "the courts will judge Mr. Loskarn's guilt or innocence, but under these circumstances, he cannot continue to fulfill his duties as chief of staff of this office. Therefore, as of today, I have removed him from the payroll."
According to U.S. Department of Justice spokesman Peter Carr, Loskarn was to remain in custody until this morning, pending the hearing. He said more information is expected to come out in court or as it is unsealed.
Loskarn, a Maryland native, had long been interested in politics and public service. In a 2003 article, the Los Angeles Times quoted Loskarn in an article about young admirers of President Ronald Reagan as saying the president made a firm impression on him in third grade.
"I was in school and the Challenger explosion happened," recalled Loskarn, then 25, remembering the 1986 space shuttle disaster. "I remember coming home that night and watching with everybody else on TV. I just remember kind of a towering figure of authority offering everyone some comfort. I think he had a talent for comforting people and inspiring people in difficult times. And that's part of the reason why some people love him so much."
After graduating from Tulane University in 2000, Loskarn quickly found himself in Washington. He served as a spokesman for U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., and later with the Senate Republican Conference under both Alexander and U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz.
Last year, he became Alexander's chief of staff.
Contact staff writer Andy Sher at 615-255-0550 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Andy Sher is a Nashville-based staff writer covering Tennessee state government and politics for the Times Free Press. A Washington correspondent from 1999-2005 for the Times Free Press, Andy previously headed up state Capitol coverage for The Chattanooga Times, worked as a state Capitol reporter for The Nashville Banner and was a contributor to The Tennessee Journal, among other publications. Andy worked for 17 years at The Chattanooga Times covering police, health care, county government, ...