At Least 5 Jeff Van Drew Staffers Resign Over Switch to GOP: Reports

December 16, 2019 Updated: December 16, 2019
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One of two Democratic Congressmen known for their opposition to the House Democrat-run impeachment effort has reportedly lost five staffers over his recently announced switch to the GOP, according to reports.

Several aides have resigned from Rep. Jeff Van Drew’s (D-N.J.) office after reports emerged that he was planning to make the switch due to his stance against impeaching President Donald Trump, reported Politico, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and USA Today.

The staffers wrote a letter to Van Drew’s chief of staff, Allison Murphy, about their exodus, which read: “Van Drew’s decision to join the ranks of the Republican Party led by Donald Trump does not align with the values we brought to this job when we joined his office.

“Over the past year, Trump Republicans have sided with special interests over the needs of working people. Worse, they continue to aid and abet Trump as he shreds the Constitution and tears the country apart. They have refused to grapple with how the President of the United States has jeopardized our national security for his own political advantage.”

According to Politico, Murphy tried to persuade the staffers to stay. She is not expected to leave Van Drew’s office.

The staffers were deputy staff chiefs Edward Kaczmarski and Justin M. O’Leary, legislative director Javier Gamboa, spokeswoman MacKenzie Lucas, and legislative assistant Caroline Wood. They wrote that they “no longer in good conscience continue our service on the Congressman’s employ.”

Other reports said that between five and seven staffers resigned in all.

Van Drew, a freshman congressman whose district voted for Trump in 2016, hasn’t made an official statement about his plans to switch parties, but his Twitter account bio says that “Republican or Democrat, we are all Americans.” He also told media outlets last week that he’s planning to vote against the two articles of impeachment set to hit the House floor this week.

Amid the impeachment inquiry into Trump, Van Drew voiced his opposition to impeachment on numerous occasions, criticizing his caucus for trying to divide Americans even further. So far, he’s been the most vocal Democrat against impeachment.

“It isn’t because I am Republican or shilling for Republicans,” he previously told USA Today. “It is because I think impeachment is a very, very serious issue.”

Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), the chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, voted against a resolution on the impeachment inquiry in late October, joining Van Drew and every Republican member of the House. Peterson, in a statement to local media over the weekend, said he will vote against the articles of impeachment.

Peterson said that “unless they come up with something between now and Wednesday” that can convince him of an impeachable offense, he won’t support the House Democrat-led push. “Maybe something will change. I doubt it,” he said, adding that he expects four or five other Democrats to oppose the two articles.