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Everything we know about Sean Riley, Sen Ron Johnson's chief of staff

Bruno Cooke June 22, 2022
sean riley ron johnson chief of staff
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During the fourth day of hearings yesterday, the January 6 select committee was told Sean Riley, chief of staff to Republican senator Ron Johnson, sent a text message to someone on Mike Pence’s team regarding a request to “hand-deliver false elector votes from Wisconsin and Michigan” – Wisconsin Public Radio (WPR) reports.

What this means for the committee’s ultimate judgement remains to be seen. However, it has shone a spotlight on Ron Johnson’s chief of staff.

Sean Riley’s employment history includes posts as a legislative director – also under Ron Johnson – and legal intern.

What else do we know about the staffer’s career to date, and who is Chris Hodgson, Pence’s aide, to whom Sean Riley allegedly sent text messages?

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Who is Sean Riley, senator Ron Johnson’s chief of staff?

Based in Washington DC, Sean Riley is the chief of staff for Republican senator Ron Johnson. Johnson assumed office as senator for Wisconsin in 2011.

Riley has only been Johnson’s chief of staff since January 2021. Before becoming chief of staff, Sean Riley worked under Ron Johnson as a legislative assistant (2015), legislative counsel (2015-2017), legislative director (2017-2018), and chief counsel (2018-2020).

For a brief period, from February 2020 to January 2021, he was special assistant to former president Donald Trump, working in the White House Office of Legislative Affairs.

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What is Sean Riley’s salary as a White House staffer?

According to Legistorm, Sean Riley’s congressional salary was highest in 2019, when he made almost $146,000.

It dipped in 2020 but rose again in 2021. He made $128,000 during the fiscal year as a congressional staff member. More salary data can be found here.

Among the other members of Ron Johnson’s White House staff are Chloe Pickle (scheduler), Courtney Rutland (legislative director), Alexa Henning (press secretary) and Justin Stebbins (foreign policy issues).

The American Bar Association adds that MJ Loos is Johnson’s state scheduler, while Chloe Pickle is director of scheduling.

Mike Pence staffer Chris Hodgson also came up in relation to Sean Riley and Ron Johnson yesterday

The January 6 select committee “highlighted exchanges” from Republican congresspeople regarding what WPR alleges is a “fake elector strategy”.

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Reported among the exhibits were a “text message exchange” between Sean Riley – Ron Johnson’s chief of staff since January 2021 – and Chris Hodgson, an “aide” for Mike Pence.

Ron Johnson’s press secretary, Alexa Henning, tweeted yesterday that the Republican senator “had no involvement in the creation of an alternate slate of electors”. 

She added he had “no foreknowledge that it was going to be delivered to our office”.

Who is Chris Hodgson?

Chris Hodgson used to serve as director of legislative affairs to former vice-president Mike Pence.

He was Pence’s “top liaison to congress”, according to his Cornerstone bio.

Smile | Official Trailer

Smile | Official Trailer

Hodgson previously worked in the office of majority whip Steve Scalise (Republican, Louisiana) from 2014 to 2017.

He’s from Washington and earned his bachelor’s degree in foreign affairs from the University of Virginia.

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Bruno is a novelist, amateur screenwriter and journalist with interests in digital media, storytelling, film and politics. He’s lived in France, China, Sri Lanka and the Philippines, but returned to the UK for a degree (and because of the pandemic) in 2020. His articles have appeared in Groundviews, Forge Press and The Friday Poem, and most are readable on Medium or