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Oral History Project | Women of the Senate

Linda Gustitus Legislative Assistant to Senator Carl Levin; Chief Counsel and Staff Director, Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management and Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations; Chief of Staff to Senator Carl Levin (1979–2003)

Linda Gustitus

Linda Gustitus’s first introduction to Congress came in the summer of 1966 when she interned in Congressman John B. Anderson’s (R-IL) office. Twelve years later she returned to Capitol Hill as a legislative assistant for Senator Carl Levin of Michigan. In 1980 Gustitus became the staff director of the Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management. For the next 20 years she worked as majority and minority staff director, investigating a wide range of topics including Enron, sweepstakes solicitations, the Social Security Disability Program, defense contracting, and campaign finance reform. Gustitus became an expert on the process and procedure of effective congressional oversight. Gustitus later served as staff director of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (PSI) and briefly as Senator Levin’s chief of staff. In this four-part interview, she conveys the important role Congress can and should play in providing oversight to the executive branch, arguing that congressional oversight is “not intended, under the Constitution, to be political oversight. It’s intended to be institutional oversight.” During her tenure, Gustitus gained extensive knowledge of the operations of the Governmental Affairs Committee, the role of the chairman and staff, and the unique duties and responsibilities of PSI. She also observed institutional change within the Senate, having joined the staff at a time when women began to play increasingly prominent roles. As a founder of the Senate Child Care Center, Gustitus discusses the challenges faced by two-working-parent households and the evolving role of women in the Senate during the last quarter of the 20th century.

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Scholarly citation: "Linda Gustitus: Staff Director, Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management and of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, and Chief of Staff, Senator Carl Levin, 1979–2003," Oral History Interviews, September 24 to December 10, 2012, Senate Historical Office, Washington, D.C.

Disclaimer: The Senate Historical Office has a strong commitment to oral history as an important part of its efforts to document institutional change over time. Oral histories are a natural component to historical research and enhance the archival holdings of the Senate and its members. Oral histories represent the personal recollections and opinions of the interviewees, however, and should not be considered as the official views or opinions of the U.S. Senate, of the Senate Historical Office, or of other senators and/or staff members. The transcripts of these oral histories are made available by the Senate Historical Office as a public service.