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Associated Press, Published May 31 2013

Latest exit: Rep's chief poached by coal industry

BISMARCK — An industry group that promotes burning brown coal for energy poached the top staffer of U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador, marking the latest in a slew of departures from the ranks of the second-term Republican.

The Lignite Energy Council on Wednesday named Jason Bohrer, Labrador's chief of staff, as its president and chief executive officer.

Bohrer will replace John Dwyer in late July at the Bismarck, N.D.-based group. Dwyer is leaving the group after more than 30 years.

Labrador represents the western region of Idaho. Bohrer previously worked for Idaho Sen. James Risch.

The North Dakota State University graduate said he's pleased to work in the industry and return to the region where his family settled decades ago.

On Friday, Bohrer said Labrador's office would be releasing a statement after the weekend, outlining staff changes after at least eight departures in the past year and detailing the congressman's efforts to fill the void. Bohrer declined to disclose details on the other departures.

"On Monday we should be fully staffed and will also have a press release that day that will go over the recent changes and additions in our office, along with their new roles and responsibilities," he said.

Labrador is one of the lawmakers working on federal immigration law changes. He is up for re-election in 2014 and sleeps in his congressional office rather than rent an apartment in Washington, D.C.

He has yet to make a final decision on seeking another term amid speculation that he might challenge Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter in a GOP primary for Idaho's chief executive post.

Labrador declined a request for an interview on Friday.

Other recent, high-profile departures from Labrador's office include spokesman Phil Hardy, who was fired in February after sending an errant Twitter message in the congressman's name.

District director Jake Ball quit this month, almost immediately after his former employer, U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo, publicly disclosed that Ball had loaned one of his high school buddies $250,000 from political donor contributions.

Ball said Labrador didn't fire him, and he was leaving of his own volition to pursue a private business venture.

Amanda Leamer, a legislative assistant, and Michael Tate, Labrador's spokesman in Washington, D.C., since just Feb. 13, have also exited.

And Kari Smith, a former Labrador legislative assistant, left in April for a job in government affairs at petroleum giant ConocoPhillips.

In May 2012, Ellen Carmichael, another ex-Labrador spokesman, left the representative's office after less than a year on the job.

Meanwhile, Labrador's campaign manager, China Gum, left in late 2012 for a conservative think tank in Idaho after helping engineer the congressman's re-election.


Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.