DJ Makes Waves as NY Senate "Creative Director"

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    NEWSLETTERS

    NBCNewYork.com
    Party on the Senate floor!

    Christopher Sealey has spent days in his young life as a marketing guru for liberal causes and many of his nights as a DJ or clubbing in Manhattan in ensembles that would cost an average New Yorker a month's pay.

         His DJ Web site touts his "high-energy mix of tasteful and foward-thinking music that crosses genres'' and his "discriminating private clientele,'' from Polo Ralph Lauren to Prada to Prince.
        
    So what's a Facebooking, Twittering hipster like him doing in the stodgy New York Senate, where casual wear is a suit without pinstripes?
        
    At 32, but looking young enough to be in "Gossip Girl,'' Sealey holds the title of "creative director,'' the chamber's first. He's pulling down $110,760 a year since he was hired in February during a fiscal crisis so severe Gov. David Paterson called for a "hard'' hiring freeze in his executive branch and once threatened layoffs of up to 8,900 state workers.
        
    In the six months since, Sealey helped revamp the Senate Web site, coordinated press events and helped senators expand their use of the Internet.
        
    Democratic Senate spokesman Austin Shafran said the new Creative Services Department is invigorating the Senate's communications to reach more New Yorkers more effectively than paper press releases.
     
    Shafran says the reorganization even saved the state some personnel costs.
        
    A spokesman for the Republican conference declined to comment on whether Sealey's hiring was appropriate given the state's budget strain.
        
    Senate Democrats -- still reeling from the firestorm over this week's aborted hiring of Majority Leader Pedro Espada's son -- won't let Sealey speak or be photographed by the press.
        
    Since being hired in Albany, he has attracted attention for his many tweets, including those about Senate raises, how he's considered the best-dressed Senate staffer, his commentary on internal discord and his recently revealed hiring.
        
    There's also a widely circulated New York magazine piece from May that includes a photo of Sealey leaping off a radiator in an all-white room, arms flying over his head and buttoned gray jacket fighting gravity. It was more Calvin Klein than Calvin Coolidge.
        
    "I'm a little shocked that the government would want someone like me,'' Sealey was quoted as saying, understating the sentiment of many in Albany. "I've spent a lot of time working in the music and marketing industries -- DJ-ing for Prince and Mick Jagger and living this expense-account life of New York City luxury. I'd never been interested in politics. But there's a point in life when sneakers and nightclubs stop mattering as much.''
        
    Tellingly, he also spoke knowingly of Barack Obama's "brand,'' talked of consulting with designers who worked for Nike, Spike TV and HBO, and said he was helping senators tap into the networking power of Facebook and Twitter.
        
    Sealey's profile on the online social networking site LinkedIn shows both sides too. In a photo, his headphones are coolly draped around his neck and his hair is impeccably gelled. Beneath the snapshot is some serious, if unconventional, political street cred.
        
    Sealey was vice president of marketing at Housing Works, an influential advocacy group for safe and affordable housing for the poor and AIDS sufferers. He produced a feature documentary on AIDS in minority communities, was a freelance creative consultant for Democratic groups and helped coordinate events for candidate Obama.
     
    He graduated from Syracuse University's S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications with degrees in journalism and philosophy.
        
    "So he's offbeat? That's better than deadbeat and that's the perception of the body,'' said Doug Muzzio, a politics professor at Baruch College. "They need a little a juice, they need to get outside their box. The question is, is he doing good for his patrons and employer? But also, will this ultimately result in a public good? Let's give him a chance.''