Congress’ Worst Bosses
One of the things that interest folks out in DC, especially those who work, have worked and want to work on the Hill is who are the best Representatives and Senators to work for. It effects where resumes flow to and how well constituents gets served back home.
Obviously, every staff has turnover. Staffers come and go, leaving for better jobs in other offices as they get experience and grow out of their initial jobs. Some head to a party committee like the DNC, RNC, or any of the other alphabet soups. Some go onto law school and other graduate schools; and of course, some go onto K Street to lobby their former bosses and co-workers.
Anything in the high teens to mid-twenties would probably be seen as “normal” for Capitol Hill offices. Anything higher would probably be seen as incredibly abnormal and a statement about the representative or senator’s people skills and or sanity.
At the top of the list, to pretty much no one’s surprise, is Texas Democrat Sheila Jackson Lee.
Lee is pathologically insane to put it mildly. She is well known for her temper tantrums, breaking down staffers psychologically to the point of tears, and even throwing things at them (and now being sued because of the medical damage inflicted by it).
The Times puts it this way:
Each year, an average of half of Mrs. Jackson Lee’s staff quits, and one year, all but six of 23 staffers left.
Mona Floyd, who served as the congresswoman’s legislative director, has monocular vision and has a lawsuit pending against Mrs. Jackson Lee, who was voted the “meanest member” of the House in a bipartisan survey of Hill staffers by Washingtonian magazine last year. Ms. Floyd said she was told by the representative, “I don’t care anything about your disability.”
Other incidents, including a series of racially charged diatribes, were documented by the Washington-based Daily Caller website after former aides were so taken aback by her behavior that they broke an unspoken Capitol Hill rule not to speak ill of former bosses.
The worst Republican boss? Also to the shock of no one on the Hill, Minnesota’s Michelle Bachmann.
Rep. Michele Bachmann, the Minnesota Republican who mounted a bid for the presidency, had an average annual staff turnover rate of 46 percent over four years. From 2007 to 2008, 10 of 15 staffers left, even though none of them had an alternate job lined up on the Hill.
To be sure, many of Mrs. Bachmann’s former campaign staffers, who are protected by fewer rules separating the personal from the professional than the taxpayer-funded congressional office workers, are not happy.
Peter Waldron said Mrs. Bachmann’s campaign has refused to pay him and other staffers after they spoke with law enforcement about a stolen list of voters, even though the campaign is flush with money.
“It’s probably not a coincidence that all the people who have not been paid are the very people who have either given depositions, given affidavits or have been interviewed extensively by the police,” he told The Hill newspaper.
Here’s the list of the Top Ten Worst Bosses in Congress from 2006 through 2011 and their average turnover in staff from one year to another. It does not include numbers for freshmen Congressmen and Senators who were elected in November 2010.
Long-time readers of this blog won’t be shocked to see a familiar name at No. 9.
Other average turnover rates from 2006 to 2011 for the Wisconsin delegation include:
26 Percent — Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner.
23 Percent — Rep. Paul Ryan (This number is actually skewed by a 40 percent turnover in 2010–2011. At the time, a number of his office staff moved over to the House Budget Committee full-time.)
20 Percent — Former Sen. Herb Kohl.
18 Percent — Rep. Gwen Moore.
17 Percent — Rep. (now Sen.) Tammy Baldwin.
17 Percent — Former Rep. Dave Obey.
17 Percent — Rep. Ron Kind.
16 Percent — Former Sen. Russ Feingold.
16 Percent — Rep. Tom Petri.