Several racial justice, social justice and other advocacy groups wrote to Sen.-elect Doug Jones (D-AL) Tuesday urging him to interview and hire people of color to staff his Senate office, especially in senior positions.
Jones was elected in a shocking upset over Republican Roy Moore on Dec. 12 to fill Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ Senate seat, in large part due to incredibly high turnout among African American voters.
Seventeen groups, including the NAACP and the National Urban League, asked Jones “to commit to making diversity a priority in hiring by doing the following:
1. Embrace the Rooney Rule and interview at least one person of color for every senior position in your office;
2. Commit to hiring diverse candidates throughout your offices to ensure that the demographics of your office reflect the demographics of Alabama and America;
3. Commit to hiring at least one person of color for a senior staff position in your Washington office, defined as chief of staff, legislative director, and communications director.”
The letter cited a study from one of its signatories, the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, which found that just 7.1 percent of senior Senate staffers — as defined in the third point above, plus the role of committee staff director — were people of color.
The Washington Post, which reported on the letter, published a statement from Jones in which he said he is “absolutely committed to having a diverse staff including in top posts in my Senate office. I plan to hire a diverse staff that reflects the people of Alabama.”
The Post noted that minority leaders in both chambers of Congress, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), have asked their caucuses to follow the so-called Rooney Rule, named for the late Dan Rooney of the Pittsburgh Steelers, who promoted the practice for hiring coaching and management positions in the NFL.
H/t Washington Post.