Politics Is a Family Affair for New Lankford Staffers
When Chloe Pickle was a little kid, she helped her family put up yard signs for then-Sen. Christopher S. Bond, R-Mo. She volunteered on campaigns with them in high school and college before embarking on her own career in politics.
Now the administrative director in Sen. James Lankford’s Washington, D.C., office, the 29-year-old is one of two recent staff changes to the Oklahoma Republican’s team. Patti Liles, who began working with Lankford in 2010, was recently promoted to office manager for his Sooner State offices. A lifelong resident of Missouri, Pickle was raised in a political family. Although he left office in 1977 — well before Pickle was born — her uncle was Rep. William J. Randall, D-Mo. Her parents and grandfather were active in campaigning for all of Bond’s campaigns.
It was only natural then that she ended up working for Bond as well. She finished her degree at Columbia College via correspondence courses so she could move to Washington to work for the senator. She worked for him for four years, first as a volunteer, then intern, staff assistant and legislative correspondent.
“If he hadn’t retired, I wouldn’t have left my job in his office,” Pickle said in a recent interview with CQ Roll Call. “I definitely had always been wanting to work for him. He was always a part of my life.”
One of her favorite memories is from a reunion between Bond and her grandfather.
“When my grandfather came here on the World War II Honor Flight, Sen. Bond was able to come here and meet him, and I was there,” she said. “[My grandfather] had always wanted to come and see the memorial and Sen. Bond was able to be there and see him and we were able to all be connected back together again.”
When Bond retired in 2011, Pickle left Capitol Hill — for a little while at least. She spent a short time working for the Paralyzed Veterans of America, and then for the Council on Foundations — a job she found out about through her Bond connection.
However, after two years, she knew she needed to return to the Capitol.
“It’s hard to explain if you haven’t worked in a member’s office, but there’s just something about it. … I left and I had to come back,” she said.
In 2012, she started a job in the Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Office, where her father-in-law, William H. Pickle used to serve, though they weren’t acquainted when he was the chamber’s top law enforcement official.
“When I was working there, I mainly supported office managers, system admins and chiefs of staff, so you really got to know the personalities and inner workings of an office on a different level,” she said.
She began working temporarily for Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., helping him to set up his office, before taking this position with Lankford.
“Hopefully, I’ll be an adoptive Oklahoman,” Pickle said with a laugh.
By contrast, Liles is a longtime resident of Oklahoma. She began working for Lankford as a volunteer coordinator in his first campaign for the House. He was elected to that chamber in 2010.
“I saw how Sen. Lankford interacted with people in our state and his heart for service,” she said, calling from his Tulsa office. “I was like, ‘I really want to support this kind of activity for my fellow Oklahomans.’”
She then arranged a one-on-one meeting with Lankford to talk about the issues, and asked how she could get involved in his campaign.
Liles had never worked in politics before, instead working in human resources and corporate training, though she always considered herself politically active. She’s been a member of the Edmond, Okla., branch of the National Federation of Republican Women for 25 years.
Like Pickle, her family is also involved in politics.
“My grandson and my husband worked a great deal through all of Sen. Lankford’s campaigns,” she said. “[My grandson], he’s 15, and he’s very interested. He goes to the town halls with me and all that kind of stuff.
“It’s really been a family affair.”
See photos, follies, HOH Hits and Misses and more at Roll Call’s new video site.
Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.