Should taxpayers be subsidizing the salary of a Senate staffer sent from Washington to Nevada to work for Harry Reid when the Senate is not even in session?
That’s the question posed by Nevada Republican Party spokesman Jahan Wilcox in reference to the recent deployment of Senate Democratic Communications Center staff director Rodell Mollineau to the Silver State.
Reid’s office told CQ-Roll Call Mollineau is in Nevada to perform work in his official Senate capacity, not to help the campaign.
But Wilcox questions the need for a senior Democratic aid in Nevada when the Senate is adjourned. He pointed out that other Senators—like Cornyn, McConnell, and Gregg—have transitioned their staffers from the federal government’s payroll to their campaign payrolls for the final weeks of the election.
“Senator Harry Reid believes his leadership staff – which is different than his Nevada staff – can campaign for him on the federal government’s dime and that’s wrong,” said Wilcox in an interview with Battle ’10.
Wilcox also questioned whether keeping Mollineau on the federal government’s payroll is a tacit acknowledgment that Reid may lose his seat.
If Mollineau was not working for the Senate, he would not be eligible under something called the Daschle Rule for extra compensation doled out to defeated members’ staffers. Wilcox said the rule was created after the defeat of Tom Daschle by John Thune and gives Senate staffers who are employed by a defeated member of the Senate an additional two months of salary and benefits. Staffers must work for six continuous months before the election to be eligible, however.
The Harry Reid campaign said Mollineau has been to Nevada many times in his official role and flatly denied he is here to conduct anything other than Senate business.
“There are several official events being held in Nevada this month,” said spokesperson Kelly Steele. “Since some of our official staff, including Jon Summers and Tom Brede, have moved to the campaign full-time, Rodell Mollineau is filling that gap by coordinating those events and staffing Reid at them as well.”
“While he is here in his official capacity, he may choose to help with campaign events during his off time,” added Steele.