House Ways and Means Committee chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) is making the necessary preparations to become Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives later this week.
According to the Washington Post, he has tapped D.C. powerbroker David Hoppe to become his chief of staff, assuming he wins next week. There is expected to be some resistance to Ryan’s efforts to ascend, but since the House Freedom Caucus has abandoned its original principles in negotiating for a House Speaker, it’s unlikely Ryan will be stopped from his ascension to the position.
“The hiring was finalized after Hoppe and Ryan, both Wisconsin natives and proteges of the late New York congressman Jack Kemp, had conversations about Ryan’s desire to staff the speaker’s office with seasoned aides who are also deeply familiar with conservatism, according to people briefed on the talks,” the Washington Post’s Bob Costa writes.
Senior conservative movement leaders tell Breitbart News they are wary of a lobbyist, but Hoppe does have a somewhat decent relationship with those connected to the ouster of outgoing House Speaker John Boehner. While none are criticizing him on record as of yet, they are skeptical this is going to work—but are open to the possibility. Hoppe is going to need to aggressively make overtures to conservatives quickly if he is going to be able to secure the position and help Ryan with his ascension to power instead of battling his own history much like Ryan has had to do—and much like Ryan will continue to have to do moving forward.
“As Ryan moves toward the speakership, the people added, he is eager to sustain the amicable relationships he has built with hard-right factions within the conference, such as the House Freedom Caucus,” Costa wrote. “In Hoppe, a former vice president at the Heritage Foundation and a former aide to House conservatives, he sees a confidant as well as a liaison to leadership-wary backbenchers.”
While much of the media focus in recent weeks has been on the illusion of influence the House Freedom Caucus has had in recent months, the only reason that group has power is because of its membership numbers. There are influential conservatives outside the Freedom Caucus, and because of the group’s decision to cave on its principles and sort of back Ryan—they issued a statement saying while they didn’t reach the 80 percent necessary threshold to endorse him, that a supermajority in the group would support him—there is talk among the conservative movement of it potentially disbanding or restructuring as conservatives look for new ways to form another more influential conservative caucus and repair the damage the Freedom Caucus has done to the movement.
Some are looking to Rep. Steve King (R-IA), the chairman of the House’s Conservative Opportunity Society, to pick up the reins of the conservative movement in the House now that the Freedom Caucus has failed the constituents of its membership. At this time, however, the Freedom Caucus’ executive director Steve Chartan refused to answer when Breitbart News asked if it will continue to operate and meet now that it has surrendered much of its relevancy.
Hoppe, a former chief of staff to former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott and to other top Republicans like former Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) and former Rep. Jack Kemp, has been an influential D.C. insider for years. He’s also been a high-power lobbyist through his own firm Hoppe Strategies for companies like Ford Motor Company, Delta Airlines, and electronics firm MarkLogic. He worked as a lobbyist for Quinn, Gillespie and Associates, a top D.C. insider lobbying firm before that—a firm that represents several special interests like the pro-Obamacare AARP, Berkshire Hathaway, Microsoft, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, the Chamber of Commerce, Qualcomm and many others in behind-closed-doors negotiations on major legislation on Capitol Hill.
Hoppe has also recently been a senior adviser to the Bipartisan Policy Center, a pro-amnesty organization that has produced people like outgoing House Speaker John Boehner’s amnesty adviser Becky Tallent. There is no word on whether Ryan will continue to employ people like Tallent in the Speaker’s office, but a recent report from The Hill newspaper suggests that Ryan will run the Speakership just like Boehner—with the exact same staff around him. Ryan’s communications director Brendan Buck is a longtime Boehner staffer who joined his team after the 2012 presidential election, when Ryan was the vice presidential nominee helping GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney lose to President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.
“Speaker John Boehner doesn’t leave office until Friday, but the moving boxes are already piling up at his suite just off the Capitol rotunda,” Scott Wong wrote in The Hill. “Dozens of the Ohio Republican’s staffers have begun packing up their belongings, uncertain of whether they’ll be asked to stay on board with Boehner’s expected successor, Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), or be forced to seek other work on the Hill or on K Street.”
Some Boehner staffers have already fanned out to spread the soon-to-be-former Speaker’s influence throughout Republican politics. Boehner press shop staffers like Matt Wolking and Katie Boyd have already landed respective positions—Wolking with South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy’s House Select Committee on Benghazi, and Boyd with Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO)—as has Boehner’s political operation head Kevin McGrann. McGrann took a job with AT&T’s lobbying operation.
Ryan’s decision to surround himself with lobbyists—hiring one as his chief of staff—could be a troubling signal that he’s going to operate just like Boehner did. Boehner’s affinity for lobbyists—something Ryan seems to be following—is something that earned him a reputation unlike any other Speaker in U.S. history.
Boehner’s ties to special interests, ties Ryan seems ready to continue, run so deep according to a 2010 New York Times profile that those close to him are part of what’s become known as “Boehner land.”
“While many lawmakers in each party have networks of donors, lobbyists and former aides who now represent corporate interests, Mr. Boehner’s ties seem especially deep,” the Times’ Eric Lipton wrote in September 2010, as Boehner’s Republicans were on the brink of electing a House majority to make him Speaker. “His clique of friends and current and former staff members even has a nickname on Capitol Hill, Boehner Land. The members of this inner circle said their association with Mr. Boehner translates into open access to him and his staff.”
Republicans are expected to nominate Ryan as their Speakership candidate on Wednesday, and then Ryan is expected to win the Speakership on Thursday on the House floor as Boehner exits. Looks like Washington, D.C., is going to turn into “Ryan Land” after it leaves “Boehner Land.”