Sen. Ted Cruz loves to stick his finger in the GOP establishment's eye, and he did so again on Monday, hiring a top Republican operative who was fired just last month by House conservatives for leaking internal talks to outside groups.
Cruz announced that Paul Teller, who had spent a decade as the executive director of the Republican Study Committee, the powerful group of leading House conservatives, will be his new deputy chief of staff.
"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," Cruz said in a statement.
Teller was one of the most influential aides in the House in recent years, as the rise of the tea party saw a swelling of the ranks of the Study Committee. He had remained a top lieutenant for a string of Republican chairmen and fought to ensure that the group did not drift leftward as it expanded.
But Teller was unceremoniously fired in December, amid the latest budget battle, for allegedly leaking member-level talks to outside groups that were agitating against a deal.
Some of those groups rose to defend him. "Paul Teller is an American hero," Andy Roth, vice president of government affairs at the Club for Growth, said on Twitter.
Cruz likely won't have to worry about Teller working with outside groups against his wishes. The Texas Republican has coordinated very closely with those same conservative activists to amplify his hard-line message, most notably in the months leading up to last October's government shutdown, when he joined a Heritage-led nationwide tour to support the cutting off of funds for the new health care law.
"It is an honor and privilege to work for Sen. Cruz," Teller said in a statement. "His leadership is truly motivating, and I can't wait to get started on our collaboration for liberty."
Teller's first day will be Thursday.