Staff exodus in Van Drew office after party switch
Five senior aides to Rep. Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey resigned on Sunday as the lawmaker formally prepared to switch parties, stating they were “deeply saddened and disappointed by his decision.”
The aides in Van Drew’s Washington office wrote in a joint letter to his chief of staff that Van Drew’s decision to become a Republican after winning his seat last year as a Democrat “does not align with the values we brought to this job.”
“Sadly, Congressman Van Drew’s decision to join the ranks of the Republican party led by Donald Trump does not align with the values we brought to this job when we joined his office,” according to the letter, which was obtained by POLITICO. It also states that “Trump Republicans” have worked to “aid and abet Trump as he shreds the Constitution and tear the country apart.”
The chief of staff — Allison Murphy, who began working for Van Drew when he served in the New Jersey State Senate — is not expected to leave. But there could be additional staffers who decide to leave this week.
Some in his office, including Murphy, had sought to persuade some staffers to stay, according to a person familiar with the conversations.
The staffers who resigned were legislative director Javier Gamboa, deputy chief Edward Kaczmarski, deputy chief Justin O’Leary, communications director Mackenzie Lucas and legislative staff assistant Caroline Wood.
Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairwoman Cheri Bustos later said the committee would hire any staffer who quit Van Drew’s office.
“We’ll bring them and others who leave on with the DCCC unitl they land new jobs that align with their values,” Bustos (D-Ill.) tweeted Sunday night.
Van Drew, who was his party’s most vocal opponent of impeaching Trump, made the decision to leave the Democrats after a personal meeting with Trump on Friday. The congressman had begun informing some of his staff later that day, but didn’t want it to be public until the following week. But by Saturday, the news had leaked.
There had been rumors for several days that the New Jersey freshman could switch parties after Democratic leaders announced they were moving ahead with articles of impeachment, but Van Drew repeatedly denied the claims publicly.
Multiple senior Democrats tried to reach out to the New Jersey freshman on Saturday but were unsuccessful.
Van Drew flipped his GOP district in southern New Jersey, helping deliver Democrats the House majority. The district, which still leans Republican, voted for Trump in 2016.