BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — If Congressman-elect Gary Palmer’s recent staffing decisions are any indication, he’ll be charting a staunchly conservative course in his new job representing Alabama’s 6th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Palmer, who was elected in November and will officially succeed 10-term Congressman Spencer Bachus in January, has chosen one current and one former aide to Sen. Jeff Sessions’ (R-Ala.) to be two of the top staffers in his Washington, D.C. office.
Palmer tapped William David Smith, Jr. to be his chief of staff, his most senior advisor.
Smith currently serves as Sen. Sessions chief counsel on the Budget Committee. In this capacity, he chairs an oversight working group with House and Senate staffers and conducts oversight investigations of government programs for waste, fraud, abuse and ineffectiveness. Smith also served under Sessions as chief counsel on the Judiciary Committee. In this role, he worked on the confirmation process of the four most recent Supreme Court justices and shepherded Alabama’s federal judicial nominees through the confirmation process.
Sessions called Smith “a patriot, a man of action, a man of principle, and a man of faith,” and predicted that he will be “a terrific leader” for Palmer’s D.C. team.
In addition to his more than 10 years working with Sen. Sessions, Smith served as Executive Director of Congressional Relations for Americans for Limited Government, where he advised members of Congress and their staff on fiscally conservative policies and instructed more than 20 grassroots organizations on how to impact Congress’ legislative agenda.
“William is a man of utmost integrity and high intellect,” said Palmer. “He is an Alabama native and his vast experience will be an asset as we work hard to accomplish great things for our state and nation.”
Coming on the heels of the Smith hire, Palmer announced this week that Cari Kelly will serve as his Legislative Director, overseeing his policy staff.
Kelly worked for Sen. Sessions as oversight counsel on the Budget Committee, but most recently she worked as a legislative strategist for Heritage Action for America, the advocacy arm of the Heritage Foundation, widely regarded as the top conservative think tank in D.C.
In her role at Heritage she focused on immigration, the 2nd Amendment, religious liberty, social issues, financial services and housing.
Perhaps most notably, she worked closely with the Heritage Foundation to educate members of Congress on current issues by providing analysis and recommendations for upcoming votes. The “Heritage Action Scorecard,” which rates how conservative each congressman is on a scale of 1-100, has become one of the most effective tools activists use the bludgeon members who do not toe the conservative line on tough votes.
“I am thrilled to welcome Cari to our Washington team,” said Palmer. “She has vast experience working for conservative principles. Her background and knowledge on key issues will be invaluable in our work.”
Two Sessions staffers, one of which also worked for Heritage… It’s starting to become clear what type of congressman Gary Palmer intends to be.