Nathan Wells, chief of staff to House Speaker Philip Gunn, will leave his full-time post but continue working for the speaker’s office as a $10,000-a-month contract worker.
Wells on Tuesday said he will continue for now doing the same policy, political, communications and House-member relations work he has done since Gunn was elected House speaker in 2012, but will also run his own energy business. Wells, who was making $135,000 a year as a full-time House employee, said his private business will not be working for state government or the Legislature.
Wells in July requested and received a state Ethics Commission opinion on whether he could leave his state job and become an independent contractor to the Legislature while maintaining a private business. The short answer was yes.
“I would cease to serve as a full-time employee … and move to being an independent contractor for the purpose of making the transition easier for the office,” Wells said in his request to the Ethics Commission. “… I would own and operate a business focused on helping private entities, city and county governments and school districts utilize technology to create better efficiency in the areas of energy usage and monitoring utilities.”
Gunn on Tuesday said in a statement: “Nathan does a fantastic job. We are pleased he will be able to continue working with us. This arrangement is costing the state less money. There will be savings in salary, and savings due to the fact that Nathan won’t receive benefits or retirement.”