LegiStorm’s metric is called a turnover index. Over a given period, if a member of Congress has a 0.0 rate, that means none of the staff left. If a member has a 0.5 rate, it means half of the staff moved on in the time frame being analyzed with a 1.0 rating meaning that the entire staff was replaced over the period being evaluated.
Additionally, the rating is weighted by salary and the calculations are based on official salary disclosures from the respective offices.
The site contends this is one metric to tell who on Capitol Hill is pleasant to work for and who is not.
LegiStorm states, “Some members of Congress get a reputation for being hard to work for, whether due to anger management, shady ethics, poor pay, demanding too much or creating a toxic work environment.”
But other factors could include poor staff performance, a shifting in legislative priority, a campaign run, or even just an anomaly of a year.
In 2019, Rep. Granger had a 1.61 turnover rate. This means that not only was Granger’s entire staff at the beginning of 2019 replaced, but many of those replacements were also replaced. All in just a year’s timeframe.
When asked for comment, Granger’s office stated, “The office of Rep. Kay Granger (TX-12) recognizes her office has been a launching pad for staffers, who have gone on to serve in a variety of key roles for administration and congressional leadership.”
Rep. Granger specifically commented, “I hire the best, and when staff do decide to leave, they go on to do great things in leading roles across government and industry. I appreciate the dedication and hard work of all current and former staff members.”
Granger gave a very similar response to Politico when asked the same question in 2018.
Overall, the House turnover index average for 2019 is 0.33.
Texas Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX-23) had a 0.95 turnover rate last year, meaning he replaced nearly all of his staff by year’s end.
One specific factor to keep in mind though is that members who are retiring are generally more susceptible to staff turnover as staffers find replacement jobs before their member officially calls it quits. This would explain the high turnover in Hurd’s office since he announced last August he would not be running for re-election.
In 2019, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) had the highest turnover rate at 0.47 in the U.S. Senate. An obvious explanation for Harris’ turnover is her presidential campaign bid. It is common for seasoned staffers to move over to the campaign side if their boss runs for a higher office.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) came in seventh with 0.35 while fellow Texas Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) had a rating of 0.25. These compare with an overall Senate turnover index average of 0.21.
Since taking office in 2013, Sen. Cruz’s turnover rate is a respectable 0.24, which includes the period of time when he sought the GOP presidential nomination in 2016.
Sen. Cornyn has a much larger sample size to pull from and LegiStorm told The Texan from 2003 (Cornyn’s first year in office) to 2018, he also had a 0.24 turnover rate. Compare that to an average of 0.19 for the whole Senate during that longer timeframe.
LegiStorm tracks these measures not only as a way to judge potential work environments, but also as a way to ascertain if turnover rates make “an office less responsive to constituents while being more dependent on lobbyists for advice.”
Looking ahead to the November elections, the results could also create a late batch of desertions as high-quality congressional staffers look to jump into any vacancies in a second term of the Trump administration or the next administration that may appear.
LegiStorm conducts this as a type of warning system.
“[F]or longer periods of time, turnover becomes a more reliable indicator of which offices staff might want to avoid if they can.”
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Brad Johnson is a senior reporter for The Texan and an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad quoting Monty Python productions and trying to calculate the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.