By Jackie Kucinich - 04/15/08 06:56 PM EDT
Ten of the 14 people Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) hired early last year have left the freshman’s office, according to public documents and sources familiar with the personnel changes.
The casualty list includes two chiefs of staff, a district director, a press secretary, two legislative assistants, a staff assistant, a caseworker, an outreach and grants coordinator and a district scheduler.
“It’s the nature of the beast in Washington, D.C. … Staff moves from place to place,” he said. “All of us here are just so thrilled to be working for such a dedicated, principled member committed to reforming Washington.”
He noted that Tara Westby, a legislative correspondent who left Bachmann’s office, will return this summer.
Bachmann’s first chief of staff, Brooks Kochvar, stayed only two months, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
A third chief of staff, whom sources identified only as a former chief of staff to another member of Congress, was never officially on the payroll, but rescinded his decision to take the position prior to Kochvar’s tenure. Bachmann’s office, however, disputed this account.
Meanwhile, Bachmann’s campaign treasurer departed last summer, Federal Election Commission documents show.
Former staffers contacted for this article declined to comment on the record.
In January 2007, Bachmann attracted national headlines and was fodder for the late-night talk show circuit when she kissed and then lingered around President Bush following his State of the Union address.
Shortly thereafter she came under fire after reports surfaced that she used her campaign fund to reimburse her husband $6,000 for campaign expenses. She quickly paid the campaign back out of “an abundance of caution,” her spokesman said at the time.
A month later, Bachmann was back in the news when she told the St. Cloud Times of an Iranian plot to expel the United States from Iraq so that Iran could partition the country.
“There is already agreement made,” she said in the February 2007 interview. “They are going to get half of Iraq, and that is going to be a terrorist safe haven zone where they can go ahead and bring about more attacks in the Middle East, and come against the United States.”
She later apologized if her words had been “misconstrued.”
Democrats are targeting her seat, which the Cook Political Report has deemed likely to stay in GOP hands.
According to the 2006 House study, 21 percent of the 141 congressional offices surveyed said they had a problem with employee retention. The higher the position in the office, the lower the turnover rate, according to the study.
Bachmann is certainly not the first new member to have trouble holding onto staff. Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.) lost 13 staffers in his first year as of September 2007. Former Rep. Shelley Sekula Gibbs (R-Texas) in 2006 had her staff walk off the job within days of being sworn in.