Legislature announces two personnel moves, including retirement of chief fiscal analyst

DOVER — The General Assembly announced two unrelated personnel moves Tuesday, with the Delaware Democratic Party’s executive director becoming the chief of staff for the Senate Democratic caucus, along with the legislature’s chief fiscal analyst retiring.

Jesse Chadderdon, who has overseen the day-to-day operations of the party since 2017, will join the Senate Democrats later this month. He previously worked for the caucus as its communications director.

Meanwhile, the Legislative Council, a body composed of lawmakers from both chambers and both parties, announced that Controller General Mike Morton recently decided to step down. Mr. Morton, who had held the position since 2012, spent 34 years working for the state.

The Controller General’s Office, which essentially serves as the fiscal arm of the General Assembly, has been in the spotlight this year: In July, the Delaware Department of Justice announced the indictment of Dawn Hill, the executive assistant for the office. She was charged with two felonies for allegedly misusing thousands of dollars raised by lawmakers, legislative employees and others in 2018 as a farewell gift for retiring Senate Secretary Bernard Brady.

Senators surprised Mr. Brady on the final night of session two years ago with a fund, so he could take a vacation to Ireland, but according to the Department of Justice, Ms. Hill kept the money.

It’s unclear exactly when she was let go from the Controller General’s Office, but she was placed on paid leave around the end of 2019. Her absence in Legislative Hall was noted by some in January, although no one would speak on the record about the situation at the time.

She had worked as an executive assistant for the controller general since 2008, according to her LinkedIn profile, which described her duties as, among other things, handling administrative operations, human resources and “financial duties with special projects as required.”

The Controller General’s Office is responsible for disbursing funds approved by the legislature and plays an integral role in crafting the budget, and its analysts also sit on various task forces and other bodies.

The Legislative Council named CGO analyst Ruth Ann Jones as the acting controller general Tuesday. Lawmakers hope to have a permanent officeholder by the time session starts Jan. 12.

Mr. Chadderdon, the incoming chief of staff for the Senate majority caucus, will replace Debra Allen, who announced last month she will retire at the end of the year.

“Jesse has the experience and knowledge needed to step in quickly and guide our operations through these challenging times,” President Pro Tempore-elect David Sokola, a Newark Democrat, said in a statement. “He has proven himself to be a capable leader time and time again, and I am thrilled he will be re-joining us for the start of 151st General Assembly and this new direction for the Delaware State Senate.”

It’s the second change in leadership for the party since the Nov. 3 election, with Erik Raser-Schramm stepping down as state party chairman last month. Like Mr. Chadderdon, he had held the position since 2017.

Mr. Chadderdon described the timing, with his decision coming so soon after Mr. Raser-Schramm’s, as purely coincidental.

A former journalist in the First State, Mr. Chadderdon helped lead the Democratic Party to new heights in recent years, flipping four seats in the General Assembly and two statewide offices between the 2018 and 2020 elections.

Betsy Maron, who has been the party’s interim chair since Mr. Raser-Schramm departed, will be responsible for hiring the next executive director.

Jesse Chadderdon