Hispanic Caucus considers forcing leader out following a recent staff exit
Rep. Nanette Barragán, the new chair of the CHC, fired new executive director Jackie Usyk after the latter was on the job for three weeks.
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"At this point George Santos has more people working for him than Nanette," one Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) member told CBS News.
The CHC has no political staffers on the active payroll as of Friday, Feb. 10 after Democratic Chairwoman Rep. Nanette Barragán of California, fired Executive Director Jacky Usyk on Thursday, Feb. 9.
Even members of the CHC are contemplating forcing Barragán out as their leader as several of those lawmakers and senior staff for CHC members expressed concerns about Barragan's leadership ability.
“Jacky is no longer with the CHC. We wish her well in her future endeavors. We do not comment on internal confidential personnel matters,” Barragán told The Hill.
The firing was first reported by Dear White Staffers, an Instagram account run by anonymous Congressional staff that watch out for any alleged workplace abuses in the Capitol.
Usyk had been on the job for less than three weeks after being appointed on Monday, Jan. 9, while Barragán was elected Thursday, Dec. 15. It also comes as the CHC searches for a new leader for its campaign arm, Bold PAC.
Bold PAC Chairman and Democratic Arizona Rep. Ruben Gallego announced last month that he would be leaving the organization at the end of the quarter to focus on his Senate run againstSen. Kyrsten Sinema.
Bold PAC had a record breaking 2022 in which nine new CHC members were added and successfully defended all its incumbents.
“This will be a major detriment to her lagging fundraising apparatus and will likely even impact BOLD PAC’s capability to provide resources for its record membership,” the strategist said
The Capitol Hill veteran’s firing came a day after the last of four political CHC staffers decided to leave the organization, and exactly one month after the CHC officially announced Usyk’s hiring.
The other three political staff who worked at CHC before Barragán took over left between December and January.
The mass exodus of staff came as Barragán tried to navigate the position as the head of the 42-member organization – a group with 42 members serving in the House and Senate, all of them Democrats – with significant sway over policy choices in the broader Democratic Caucus.
According to Legistorm, a website that follows Congressional staff, Barragán’s personal office had the third-highest turnover rate of any House office from 2001 to 2021. And in 2022, did not make the top 10 turnover Legistorm turnover list.
Usyk had no comment for CBS News when reached Thursday evening.
Since Barragán took over, a handful of caucus staffers, including the communications director and policy experts, have also left.
The departure also further angered CHC members as it left the caucus directionless with a Republican-led House getting ready to discuss issues including immigration and education — pressing issues for voters in the majority Latino districts represented by caucus members.
Some of these concerned members said they were looking to have a meeting as soon as Thursday night with Barragán about the firings but with House members leaving Washington for a two-week recess, it is unclear.
Lawmakers and staffers spoke to CBS News anonymously regarding the CHC chairwoman.
According to them, Barragán has developed a reputation over time as a tough boss who struggles to retain staff.
"Without institutional knowledge/memory, the CHC will suffer. I guess Nanette doesn't value that at all," a CHC-member lawmaker said.
"She has a hard time keeping staff in her personal office. Those concerns seem real given that all CHC staff left (because they did not want to work for her), and CHC is currently understaffed," the lawmaker added. "The staff that are there are unhappy, so concerns about whether the effectiveness of the caucus is hurt by the way she treats staff is real."
As for ousting the leader, under CHC rules, members may vote to impeach Barragán and call for her removal. If impeached, Caucus Vice Chairman Rep. Adriano Espaillat would be next in line to lead the group, people familiar with the process said.
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