RSC Fires Executive Director for Leaking ‘Member-Level’ Talks to Outside Groups

WASHINGTON - DECEMBER 11: Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) (C) introduces H.R. 4262, the 'CAP the DEBT Act,' during a news conference with fellow House Republicans (L-R) Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-TX), Rep. John Fleming (R-LA), Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX) and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) at the U.S. Capitol December 11, 2009 in Washington, DC. The bill looks to repeal the Gephardt Rule and thereby require a two-thirds majority in the House of Representatives and the Senate to authorize any increase in the U.S. national debt ceiling. Scalise and others threatened to vote against a war funding bill next week if it included a provision to raise the debt ceiling. 
National Journal
Tim Alberta
Add to Briefcase
Tim Alberta
Dec. 11, 2013, 12:37 p.m.

Re­pub­lic­an Study Com­mit­tee Chair­man Steve Scal­ise has fired the group’s long­time ex­ec­ut­ive dir­ect­or, Paul Tell­er, mul­tiple sources told Na­tion­al Journ­al.

The reas­on for the dis­missal, ac­cord­ing to sources fa­mil­i­ar with the situ­ation, is that Tell­er al­legedly shared sens­it­ive con­ver­sa­tions between RSC mem­bers with out­side ad­vocacy groups, some of whom hold policy po­s­i­tions counter to the RSC.

“No staffer is above a mem­ber,” said one seni­or Re­pub­lic­an aide fa­mil­i­ar with the situ­ation. “Paul was di­vul­ging private, mem­ber-level con­ver­sa­tions and act­ively work­ing against RSC strategies sup­por­ted by House con­ser­vat­ives.”

Tell­er could not im­me­di­ately be reached for com­ment.

The move comes as Scal­ise, who has not stated wheth­er he will sup­port the budget com­prom­ised brokered by Rep. Paul Ry­an, is at­tempt­ing to take the tem­per­at­ure of his mem­bers on the agree­ment.

Scal­ise was meet­ing in­di­vidu­ally with top con­ser­vat­ive law­makers, in­clud­ing former RSC Chair­man Jim Jordan, be­fore Wed­nes­day’s RSC gath­er­ing. Jordan, who is close to Tell­er, ini­tially said the meet­ing was about Ry­an’s budget agree­ment. But it be­came clear af­ter­ward that oth­er things, in­clud­ing Tell­er’s dis­missal, were dis­cussed.

“Paul’s a good man, and he’s been help­ful to the con­ser­vat­ive move­ment,” Jordan said. “But the chair­man is the chair­man. And I sup­port the chair­man’s de­cision.”

On his way in­to the RSC meet­ing, Scal­ise em­phas­ized that he re­mained un­de­cided on Ry­an’s deal. “We’re go­ing to talk about that in here,” he said.

Tell­er, a staunch con­ser­vat­ive with long-stand­ing ties to out­side groups op­pos­ing the deal, is ac­cused of work­ing be­hind the scenes to de­rail the budget agree­ment.

It’s not the first time he’s played both sides, ac­cord­ing to sev­er­al Re­pub­lic­ans. In fact, they say Tell­er’s fir­ing was a long time com­ing.

“This wasn’t ideo­lo­gic­al. He leaked against RSC mem­bers all the time,” said an­oth­er seni­or GOP aide. “He worked against bills sponsored by mem­bers without the chair­man know­ing.”

At the same time, the lead­ers of some con­ser­vat­ive out­side groups rushed to Tell­er’s de­fense after news broke of his fir­ing. “Paul Tell­er is an Amer­ic­an hero,” tweeted Andy Roth, vice pres­id­ent of gov­ern­ment af­fairs at the Club for Growth.

The dis­missal was an­nounced to mem­bers at Wed­nes­day’s closed-door meet­ing. Shortly after the caucus gathered around lunch­time, dozens of staffers were asked to leave the room, an un­usu­al move that typ­ic­ally sig­nals Scal­ise’s de­sire to dis­cuss a sens­it­ive mat­ter with RSC mem­bers only.

Scal­ise in­formed mem­bers at the meet­ing that he had asked for Tell­er’s resig­na­tion, and that Tell­er ac­cep­ted. But the chair­man did not elab­or­ate on why the de­cision was made. “If you want to dis­cuss the de­tails, call my of­fice,” Scal­ise said, ac­cord­ing to mem­bers present.

The de­cision was ap­par­ently made uni­lat­er­ally by Scal­ise. Rep. Cyn­thia Lum­mis of Wyom­ing, a mem­ber of the RSC steer­ing com­mit­tee, said she was sur­prised by the news of Tell­er’s fir­ing. “I didn’t find out about it un­til I walked in the room,” she said.

Oth­er RSC mem­bers were caught off guard as well. Rep. Tim Huel­skamp, R-Kan­sas, did not at­tend the meet­ing but was “very dis­ap­poin­ted” at the news.

“Paul’s one of the most ef­fect­ive staffers on the Hill,” Huel­skamp said. “He helps our cause. And fir­ing him does not.”

Tell­er joined the RSC in 2001 as le­gis­lat­ive dir­ect­or and quickly as­sumed the role of ex­ec­ut­ive dir­ect­or, a po­s­i­tion he’s held for more than 10 years. He has been in the crosshairs be­fore. When Scal­ise won an up­set vic­tory to be­come RSC chair­man be­fore the 113th Con­gress, House lead­er­ship of­fi­cials urged him to dis­miss Tell­er. But RSC mem­bers, many of them hav­ing known Tell­er for years, suc­cess­fully lob­bied for him to stay on.

Tell­er’s repu­ta­tion is rooted in his grass­roots ap­proach to polit­ics, which some­times prizes con­flict over com­prom­ise. Un­der his dir­ec­tion, the RSC has wit­nessed sev­er­al in­tense ideo­lo­gic­al battles—both in­tern­al and ex­tern­al—that have ce­men­ted his status on Cap­it­ol Hill as a con­ser­vat­ive agit­at­or. When asked about his group’s hard­ball tac­tics earli­er this year, Tell­er told Na­tion­al Journ­al: “We’re not there to smile and nod.”

There is no im­me­di­ate word on who will re­place Tell­er as ex­ec­ut­ive dir­ect­or, a pivotal po­s­i­tion that helps or­gan­ize weekly meet­ings and policy pa­pers for the caucus of more than 170 House Re­pub­lic­ans.

What We're Following See More »
BOON TO PROSECUTORS
SCOTUS Rules that Insider Trading Can’t Be “Gifted”
10 hours ago
THE DETAILS

In a unanimous decision, "the Supreme Court on Tuesday said it violates insider-trading laws for a corporate officer to make a “gift” of insider information to a relative, a decision that makes it easier for those who police Wall Street to bring prosecutions."

Source:
EFFORT LIKELY TO DIE IN COMMITTEE
Jordan Can’t Force a Floor Vote on Impeaching Koskinen
11 hours ago
THE LATEST
House Freedom Caucus Chairman Jim Jordan attempted to force a floor vote on impeaching IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, but "the House voted overwhelmingly to refer it to the Judiciary Committee. ... The committee will not be required to take up the resolution." Earlier, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi "made a motion to table the resolution, which the House voted against by a 180-235 margin, mostly along party lines."
Source:
AFTER THE VOTE FOR SPEAKER
Ryan: No Committee Assignments Until New Year
16 hours ago
THE DETAILS

House Speaker Paul Ryan has decreed that House members "won’t receive their committee assignments until January — after they cast a public vote on the House floor for speaker. "The move has sparked behind-the-scenes grumbling from a handful of Ryan critics, who say the delay allows him and the Speaker-aligned Steering Committee to dole out committee assignments based on political loyalty rather than merit or expertise." The roll call to elect the speaker is set for Jan. 3, the first vote of the new Congress.

Source:
EXPECTED TO FUND THE GOVERNMENT THROUGH SPRING
Funding Bill To Be Released Tuesday
1 days ago
THE LATEST

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy told reporters on Monday that the government funding bill will be released on Tuesday. The bill is the last piece of legislation Congress needs to pass before leaving for the year and is expected to fund the government through the spring. The exact time date the bill would fund the government through is unclear, though it is expected to be in April or May.

Source:
IT’S OFFICIAL
Trump to Nominate Carson to Lead HUD
1 days ago
THE LATEST

As has been rumored for a week, Donald Trump will nominate Ben Carson, his former rival, to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development. In a statement, Trump said, "We have talked at length about my urban renewal agenda and our message of economic revival, very much including our inner cities. Ben shares my optimism about the future of our country and is part of ensuring that this is a Presidency representing all Americans. He is a tough competitor and never gives up."

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login