Rep. Peltola’s staff turnover is the 2nd highest in the U.S. House

a woman talks into a microphone at a podium on stage
U.S. Congresswoman Mary Peltola. (Matt Faubion/Alaska Public Media)

Alaska Congresswoman Mary Peltola ranks second-highest in staff turnover for the U.S. House of Representatives. That’s according to a subscription data service called LegiStorm. They calculate her turnover rate is nearly four times the House average.

It’s a ranking her political adversaries are highlighting. The right-wing blog Must Read Alaska wrote about Peltola’s turnover rate in November, suggesting that it’s a sign of a toxic work environment.

Ben Petersen, Western press secretary for the National Republican Congressional Committee, said voters should pay attention to turnover.

“It could be indicative of dysfunction in the office,” he said. “It’s certainly out of the norm be the 99th percentile for staff turnover.”

But Peltola’s chief of staff, Anton McParland, said the staff turnover is a reflection of how she came into office. She won a 2022 special election, to serve the remaining three and a half months of the late Don Young’s term. McParland said they had to staff up quickly, with no certainty that Peltola’s tenure would continue in 2023.

“We made the intentional choice to retain a good amount of Don Young staff during that transition. Many of these people stepped up because they were devoted to Alaska. And they appreciated Mary’s intention on really wanting to fulfill the Don Young legacy,” he said.

Many of the initial hires already had other career paths in mind, McParland said, but two former Don Young employees remain. Peltola has nine full-time staffers in her Washington, D.C. office. She also has congressional staff in Anchorage and Juneau, and she hopes to hire an employee in Fairbanks.

The LegiStorm data is based on the first nine months of 2023. The company considers salary in its turnover calculation, so highly paid staffers count more than entry-level aides. LegiStorm says high turnover could be a sign that a lawmaker is a difficult boss, but the company has a special note about Peltola: “Peltola’s staff consists mostly of people that she hired from her Republican predecessor, who died in office, so it’s quite possible the turnover does not reflect a concern for her management style as much as a mismatch in political party.”

The LegiStorm ranking does not include the latest departure: Peltola’s communications director, Sam Erickson, left last week. He said he wanted to pursue another opportunity.

Liz Ruskin is the Washington, D.C., correspondent at Alaska Public Media. Reach her at Read more about Liz here.

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