As RedState reported in January, there were rumblings about how Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.) could be facing a primary challenge from former chief of staff Dan Hanlon, whom Mace fired in December, reportedly over intra-office disagreement over her handling of the vote to oust Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) as House Speaker and the fallout from that.
Since that time, not only has Hanlon indeed filed to run against Mace, but rumors of high staff turnover in Mace’s office due to an alleged “toxic” and “demoralizing” work environment have reached fever pitch, with a new report claiming that Mace lost her entire D.C. administrative staff between November and this week:
As of Monday, according to three sources familiar with the matter, Mace’s entire D.C. staff has turned over since Nov. 1, 2023.
That’s nine staffers in the span of a few short months—with all but one of those employees [Hanlon] leaving on their own accord.
As for the rest of her former staff, they all quit. That includes her deputy chief of staff Richard Chalkey, her legislative director Randal Meyer, communications director Will Hampson, a financial adviser, a staff assistant, two legislative assistants, and her military legislative assistant.
According to the report, some former staffers described Mace as “abusive” and as someone who they say was heavily reliant on “consultants and senior staffers” each day to make her sound knowledgeable about Capitol Hill matters during interviews.
Natalie Johnson, who used to be a spokesperson for Mace, has publicly talked about her time in Mace’s office, sharing this reaction to news in December of a wave of departures:
“You mean to tell me that the woman who’s had six (seven?) communications directors since me in a two-year span has a toxic workplace? Who could’ve seen this coming!?”
Johnson and current staffers for Mace, who are said to have come from disgraced former Rep. George Santos’ office, were chippy towards each other on the Twitter machine Monday, with Johnson telling one that her “time was coming” and saying in another tweet that Mace “is unfit to serve, unfit to lead, and unfit to do anything but attention seek.”
This isn’t the first time that Mace’s office has been hit with staffing woes. In 2021, her first year in office, there was an unusually high exodus of personnel as well:
[Ex-CoS Mara] Mellstrom’s departure this week is just the latest in a string of staffers who have either been fired or resigned to take other jobs during Mace’s first year in office. Four of the eight Mace staffers who work on Capitol Hill left the office during a tumultuous six-week stretch, between July 1 and Aug. 15, sources said.
Those who left the office during that period were legislative assistant Logan McVey, as well as Mace’s entire three-person communications team; communications director Natalie Johnson, press secretary Yates Wilburn, and press assistant/scheduler Grace Farmer.
A lot of this is, of course, inside baseball-type stuff and not something voters particularly pay a lot of attention to – unless it grows to be part of a pattern. When and if it does, it raises questions about who the elected official in question is really there to serve – the people or themselves.
It also sparks uncomfortable comparisons. Reading the reports of the alleged issues and abuses in Mace’s office made me think back to Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) and her longtime (earned) reputation as one of the meanest members of Congress, where profanity-laced tirades toward staffers who she frequently belittled were the rule and not the exception, and turnover was also high.
READ: Sheila Jackson Lee Gives a Pretty Incredible Defense for Profanity-Laced Tirade at Staffers
It also made me think of Vice President Kamala Harris, her well-documented turnover issues, and the persistent reports that have come out over the last three years quoting former and current staffers past and present saying eerily similar things about Harris that Mace’s former staffers are allegedly saying about her.
In particular, Harris, too, has been hit with numerous claims that she has an abusive, Mean Girl attitude and takes all the credit for the work her staffers have done to make her look like she knows what she’s talking about.
I don’t know what the future holds politically speaking for Nancy Mace. She’s been hard to predict since coming into office, sometimes striking the right notes with conservatives and other times taking positions and making statements that seem to come out of left field.
While unpredictability earns you a lot of favorable Beltway media attention, it ultimately could backfire with voters at home come primary time. Because if there’s one thing conservative Republicans need in Washington, D.C. right now it is someone who consistently goes to bat for them and their priorities first and foremost.
How SC primary voters feel about Mace remains to be seen. Though the Republican presidential primary in the Palmetto State is February 24th, the one for the House is June 11th.
As always, stay tuned.
Related: Kevin McCarthy Planning ‘Revenge Operation’ Against Those Who Ousted Him