WASHINGTON -- The Republican Study Committee, an official office of The Caucus of House Conservatives, is "strongly" encouraging job applicants to fill out an ideological questionnaires administered by a conservative think tank, the Heritage Foundation.
In an email passed to the Huffington Post by a congressional Democratic aide, Jonathan Day, a senior adviser to Congressman Tom Price (R-Ga.) and the RSC, asks recipients interested in a host of jobs to send their resumes through the RSC website. At the bottom of the email, however, Day writes that the office "also strongly encourage[s]" applicants "to submit your résumé and complete the ideological questionnaires at the following two websites."
(Read Day's email: HERE -- altered slightly to fit in PDF format and exclude personal contact information)
The links offered are those to the site conservativejobs.com and a job-bank page hosted by the Heritage Foundation. The latter asks applicants for their position on a host of issues including whether "free trade benefits U.S. consumers," whether the "U.N. should not have authority over the citizens or public policies of sovereign nations," and whether "people should be able to invest a portion of their Social Security payments in a personal account."
Additionally, the Heritage questionnaire asks applicants to rate public officials and organizations in terms of sympathy for their viewpoints. Former Vice President Al Gore, the NRA, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, Sen. Dianne Feinstein and the National Organization of Women are listed for rating.
It's not clear how much stock RSC puts into these ideological questionnaires. A request for comment from Price's office was not immediately returned. But in his email, Day noted that he and others "will be checking these questionnaires" when filing through applications.
How rare it is for offices to apply a type of ideological litmus test to prospective staffers is also not entirely clear. The practice is, more often than not, done informally, as Republicans and Democrats tend to prefer to work with, well, Republicans and Democrats respectively. Filling out questions to determine where an applicant stands on the philosophical spectrum is, in some ways, a more cost-effective version of bringing that applicant to the office to ask him or her specific issue-oriented questions.
But RSC is a government office. And in passing along Day's email to the Huffington Post, the Democratic aide made the point that if Democrats or President Obama were caught performing the practice, hell would break loose.
"If the administration had perspective applicants fill out ideological questionnaires from liberal leaning groups, the outrage on the right would be hard to contain. That is absolutely true. This is a government job. We aren't talking about a job for the National Republican Senatorial Committee or a think tank... it seems to be a litmus test for these offices. If this sort of vetting process were taking place within the administration or a Democratic office, conservatives would be outraged."
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