Fired by House Republicans, Hired by Ted Cruz

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Jan. 13 2014 2:43 PM

Fired by House Republicans, Hired by Ted Cruz

Ted Cruz's plan for fighting unemployment is to hire the recently terminated to his congressional staff.

Photo by Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Not every piece of congressional staffing news is going to be particularly relevant outside the beloved, wealthy Beltway. This is one of the outliers:

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, today announced Paul Teller as his new deputy chief of staff, effective Thursday, January 16. 

“Paul’s many years of experience working in Congress and his tireless work to advance conservative principles make him a tremendous addition to our team,” Sen. Cruz said.

Many other Republicans are reading that and suppressing their gag reflexes. Thirteen years ago, when he was just 30, Teller joined the conservative Republican Study Committee as legislative director. Teller was there throughout the Bush years, first as hard-core conservatives reluctantly went along with the president's agenda, then as they turned away from it. (Remember the vote count for TARP.) Teller built bridges between the official party apparatus in Congress and the D.C. conservative movement. This, naturally, alienated the Republicans who came to be targeted by that movement. The outrage boiled over two and a half years ago, during the debt limit fight, at a closed-door Republican meeting where members confronted Teller with the emails he'd been sending to movement groups. Oregon Rep. Greg Walden (who now chairs the committee charged with electing more Republicans to the House) asked Teller to explain himself. Others chanted "fire him!"

Teller wasn't fired—not right there. Only one month ago, as the year ended with routs for conservatives on Obamacare funding and entitlement spending, did the RSC sack its trusty staffer. RSC Chairman Steve Scalise explained:

We all rely on staff, but we have to have the full trust of our staff. Unfortunately, that’s no longer the case.

Other Republicans, on and off the record, characterized Teller as a "tone-deaf" operative who lacked deference to the membership. If only there was some senator who was frequently accused by colleagues of going further than the party could go; of diminishing his peers in full view of the media; of working too closely with outside groups.

Oh, wait. There is! So Cruz's top staff now includes a former linchpin of the RSC, a veteran of Jim DeMint's team (Amanda Carpenter), a veteran of FreedomWorks (Max Pappas), and the co-author of Rick Perry's pre-campaign book (Chip Roy). It's a conservative movement Voltron.

David Weigel, a former Slate politics reporter, is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics


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