SAY IT AIN’T SO SHELLEY – SAY IT AIN’T SO!

DELAY STAFFERS: “SHE’S MEAN SO WE WALKED OUT!”

The Insite: I put in a call to Gibbs Houston workers to get a response on this report but so far no return call…

The Story: The woman who was sworn in this week as the interim Republican successor to ex-Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas) was, shall we say, not a hit with holdover DeLay aides. In fact, they showed their feelings about their new boss Tuesday by walking out of the office en masse and resigning, effective immediately. The DeLay refugees, who included DeLay’s personal chief of staff, David James, walked out of the office, Von Trapp family-style (though without the singing) and huddled at Starbucks to get their wits about them. The interim Member, Shelley Sekula-Gibbs (R), who won the special election to replace DeLay but lost a write-in campaign for a full two-year term, only will be serving in Congress until Jan. 3, when Democrat Nick Lampson, who won the general election, takes over. But even just for these few weeks, it appears, Sekula-Gibbs wants things just so. She showed up to take over DeLay’s old office on Thursday and, according to sources familiar the office dynamics, was “mean” to the staff. On Tuesday, at her new Member’s open-house reception in the office, sources charged that she was less than pleased that neither President Bush nor Vice President Cheney showed up with the rest of the welcome wagon, despite the fact that others who stopped by included Texas GOP Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn and Texas GOP Reps. Kevin Brady and Michael Burgess. (Apparently, according to sources, she was under the impression that the president of the United States would be there to greet the seven-week Congresswoman.) One source said, “This is a highly professional and well-seasoned staff who has worked with the best, and worst, of Members, but you’ll need to promise a Congressional Medal to anyone willing to take this one on.” Carl Thorsen, who is now a lobbyist, hired most of the DeLay aides who stormed out of the new Congresswoman’s office when he was DeLay’s general counsel and in charge of staffing the Hammer’s personal office. He said he couldn’t imagine what it must have taken to provoke the staff to quit all at once. “I know them. They’re exceptional and talented,” he said. “They’ve been loyal to that district and they’ve worked really hard. They’re just not a group of loose cannons. Sekula-Gibbs’ chief of staff, Lisa Diamond, told HOH that the DeLay aides were only there “for transitional purposes,” not for the mini-Congresswoman’s full seven-week tenure, which surely will be hectic given the number of days the lame duck is scheduled to be in session. Asked about the aides storming out of the office she said, “Ooh, oh … I don’t know what we can say about that.” Diamond said she would not comment on personnel issues.
But she said she has worked for Sekula-Gibbs for many years and said, “I think she is wonderful to work for.”

(REPRINTED FROM ROLL CALL)