Incoming House Freshman Class Staffs Up

December 1, 2020 by Dan McCue
Keelie Broom, incoming chief of staff for Rep-elect Burgess Owens, R-Utah.

Now into their second week of freshman orientation, incoming members of Congress are beginning to pick up the pace of building their staff for the 117th Congress.

Each member-elect can access funds to officially hire one staffer for the interim period, and most of the names listed below fall under the banner of “incoming,” meaning arriving in January.

Many, like incoming Rep. Randy Feenstra, R-Iowa, are turning to their campaign managers for this guidance.

In addition to serving as Feenstra’s transition aide, campaign manager Matt Leopold will also take the reins as the office’s chief of staff come January.

Incoming Rep. Diana Harshbarger, R-Tenn., went the same route, hiring campaign manager Zac Rutherford as transition aide and future chief.

Before leaving for the campaign trail, Rutherford briefly worked in ex-Rep. Mark Sanford’s, R-S.C., district office.

In contrast, Rep.-elect Ronny Jackson, R-Texas, former White House doctor to Presidents Donald Trump and Barack Obama, has turned to a seasoned Hill veteran to lead his congressional office.

Jeff Billman will take the helm as Jackson’s chief of staff come January. In the meantime, he’s continuing in his post as legislative director and deputy chief of staff to Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas.

Before joining Brady’s office a year ago, Billman worked for Reps. Kevin Hern, R-Okla., and Peter Roskam, R-Ill.

Rep.-elect Barry Moore, R-Ala., has hired Shana Teehan as his chief of staff, and William “Bill” Harris, as his district director.

Teehan most recently was vice president of communications at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and prior to that worked for Sen. Luther Strange, and Reps. Kevin Brady and Will Hurd.

Harris most recently was director of political affairs for the Alabama Forestry Association.

Rep.-elect Byron Daniels, R-Fla., has hired Tyler Haymore to be his chief of staff. Haymore most recently was chief of staff for Rep. Ted Budd, R-N.C.

Meanwhile, David FitzSimmons has signed on as incoming chief of staff for Rep.-elect Michelle Fischbach, R-Minn.. FitzSimmons previously worked as chief of staff for Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Minn., and served in the state House of Representatives (2013-2015).

Rep.-elect Scott Franklin, R-Fla., has hired Katie Trudeau to be his incoming communications director. Trudeau served as campaign manager for the final three months of his campaign, having previously served as campaign manager for Amanda Makki.

Prior to that she worked as a confidential assistant at the U.S. Dept. of Education and as a policy advisor and press secretary at the Virginia General Assembly.

Rep-elect Anthony Gonzales II, R-Texas, has hired Casey Contres to be his chief of staff and Michael Blair to be his district director.

Contres previously worked as campaign manager and press secretary for Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado, and before that he worked as communications director for Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Penn., and a congressional aide for Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Penn.

Blair, meanwhile, was director of governmental affairs for the Frisco Chamber of Commerce, a senior policy advisor for the City of Dallas, Texas, and chief of staff and legislative director for the Texas House of Representatives.

Rep.-elect Nancy Mace, R-S.C., has hired Mara Mellstrom, her ex-campaign manager, to be her chief of staff and April Paris Derr, to be her incoming director of constituent services.

Derr, who is constituent services director for Democratic U.S. Rep. Joe Cunningham and was a longtime aide for Republican former U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford before that, is effectively staying on in her current role, just swapping bosses.

Rep-elect Burgess Owens, R-Utah, has tapped Keelie Broom to be his chief of staff, Miriam Harmer, to be his legislative director, and Nathaniel Johnson to be his district director.

Broom served as policy counsel and government affairs director for Marsy’s Law for All, and prior to that was Nevada communications director for the Republican National Committee.

Harmer was director of Congressional Relations for The Orthodox Union, and counsel to the James Madison Memorial Fellowship Foundation. Prior to that, she worked for Sens. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and for Robert Bennett, who is known primarily for his role in representing President Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

Nathaniel Johnson previously worked as an attorney and law clerk for the Utah County Public Defender Association.

Last for now, but certainly not least, Rep.-elect Pete Sessions, R-Texas, has hired Warren Kirk Bell to be his incoming chief of staff.

Bell, who served as Session’s campaign manager, is the former owner of the Pine Needles Lodge & Golf Club in Southern Pines, N.C.

He’s also noteworthy for having ties to the outgoing Trump administration.

Bell served as White House liaison with the Department of Transportation in 2017, and before that had been director of communications for North Carolina for Donald J. Trump for President, Inc.

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