Poor staffing decisions

POOR STAFFING DECISIONS…. In the wake of the midterm elections, a wide variety of incoming Republican lawmakers needed to put together teams of staffers, and many immediately began hiring corporate lobbyists as their chiefs of staff. It didn’t exactly fit in with the anti-establishment, Tea Party-style campaigns that dominated GOP politics in 2010, and vowing to break with the entrenched establishment and its corrupt power structure.

In fairness, though, it’s worth emphasizing that some of these new Republican officials aren’t hiring lobbyists as chiefs of staff, they’re hiring right-wing talk-show hosts.

In mid-November, Rep.-elect Allen West (R-Fla.) announced his choice for chief of staff: a right-wing radio host who hates immigrants, hates Muslims, and has raised the prospect of an armed insurrection against the United States government. (The host soon after said she would not join West’s staff after all, but the fact that she was hired in the first place told us a great deal about the congressman-elect’s judgment.)

Yesterday, we saw this same dynamic play out again.

Rep.-elect Tim Huelskamp has hired a conservative talk radio host with no Hill experience and a track record of advocating against abortion and gay marriage as his chief of staff.

The Kansas Republican hired Jim Pfaff, who hosts the Denver-based Jim Pfaff Show, to be his top staffer in Washington, D.C., Pfaff said in a phone interview Wednesday.

Pfaff has advocated at the state level against gay marriage, abortion and Democratic policy initiatives and garnered praise from former Christian Coalition leader Ralph Reed, who told a Colorado newspaper last year that Pfaff is “one of the greatest grass-roots organizers in the country.”

The politician and the radio host apparently met through their work with Focus on the Family, a fundamentalist group created by James Dobson. Pfaff has also been part of right-wing activism on a variety of related fronts, including organizing against Sonia Sotomayor’s Supreme Court nomination, against economic recovery efforts, and against efforts to combat global warming.

It’s quite a crop of GOP freshman lawmakers we’ll see next year, isn’t it? Those who aren’t hiring corporate lobbyists are embracing extremist media personalities to oversee their congressional offices.