Aides for Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) have been unruly and uncooperative with staffers for other senators in an attempt to protect the coveted Capitol Hill office space currently claimed by the Nevada Republican, according to a report published online Sunday in Roll Call.
The report chronicled recent tension between Heller’s office and other lawmakers prompted by the biennial Senate office lottery, under which more junior senators are required to show their offices to members with more seniority. The more senior members are then allotted 24 hours to decide if they would like to take over the new space. As Roll Call reported, Heller’s office space — inherited after Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) resigned amid scandal — has drawn interest because of its larger-than-average floor plan.
But Heller’s team has reportedly not accommodated requests by other staffers to tour his office. Roll Call reported that several senators have filed complaints against Heller with the Senate Rules and Administration Committee. One exchange between Heller’s staff and aides for retiring Sen. Saxby Chamblis (R-GA) turned somewhat contentious, according to the report:
When the Georgia Republican’s staff asked to see Heller’s suite, Chambliss had not yet announced his decision to retire in 2014. According to sources familiar with incident, Heller Chief of Staff Mac Abrams joked that Chambliss’ staff should ask Rep. Paul Broun, R-Ga., if he would like the suite. He also jokingly suggested that Heller would have to support any potential Broun primary bid if Chambliss took their office. (At the time, Broun was rumored to be contemplating a primary challenge, and he has subsequently announced he will run for the open seat.)
According to some sources told about the exchange, Heller’s chief of staff then offered $10,000 in campaign contributions from the senator’s PAC if Chambliss declined to take the suite. Heller’s office disputes this claim.
Another source familiar with the situation said a campaign contribution offer was made in jest. Abrams joked, according to this source, that Heller would give funds to Broun if Chambliss ousted Heller from the space. Another source corroborated this account. Those who believed the remarks to be a joke said no number was ascribed to the contribution, but $10,000 is the maximum a member PAC can give in one cycle to another member.
Heller’s staff told Roll Call that they believe everyone involved in the discussions knew they were joking, but Chambliss “was so troubled by the incident that he personally spoke to Heller about it,” according to the report.