Continuing his courting of the Tea Party/activist wing of the GOP, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz announced on Monday that he had hired former Republican Study Committee executive director Paul Teller as his deputy chief of staff.
Teller was unceremoniously fired from the Republican Study Committee in late 2013 for allegedly leaking sensitive information about ongoing budget negotiations between Rep. Paul Ryan and Sen. Patty Murray to outside conservative groups looking to sabotage the deal.
Rep. Steve Scalise, head of the RSC, announced at the time of Teller's firing that the longtime GOP aide no longer had the full "trust" of the RSC staff and leadership.
Nevertheless, Cruz has brought Teller onto his staff, releasing a statement that called Teller "tireless" in his efforts to "advance conservative principles" and describing him as "a tremendous addition to our team." Amanda Terkel of the Huffington Post describes Cruz's move as a "huge slap in the face" to the leadership of the RSC.
Scalise's office did not immediately return a request for comment. House Speaker John Boehner's office declined to comment.
Cruz has worked closely with conservative advocacy groups and often clashed with the House GOP leadership. During the government shutdown in October, House Republicans fumed against the senator for conceding defeat on repealing Obamacare after leading them into the unpopular shutdown.
"It is an honor and privilege to work for Sen. Cruz," Teller said in a statement. "His leadership is truly motivating, and I can't wait to get started on our collaboration for liberty."