Top Ensign staffers flee

John Ensign’s communications director Tory Mazzola is leaving the scandal-plagued Nevada Republican’s staff — joining chief of staff John Lopez in an exodus of top-level staffers days after revelations Ensign paid nearly $100,000 to his mistress and her family.

Mazzola, who has a good reputation with reporters, is leaving to take a job as northeast communication director for the National Republican Congressional Committee based in New Hampshire. He’s a native New Englander.

He’ll be replaced by Rebecca Fisher, who earned high marks as Ensign’s CD when he was chairman of the Republican Study Group Policy Committee.

Lopez is being replaced by Aaron Cohen, currently with DC lobbying shop Kimbell and Associates, who served as an Ensign aide from 2001-2005, according to a release obtained by my colleague Manu Raju.

Cohen will start next week in August, but "Lopez will continue his work in Ensign’s office until the end of August, as he weighs options in the private sector. He has not yet made a final decision," according to the release.

In addition, Pam Thiessen, who served as Senator Ensign’s Legislative Director from 2000 to 2009, will return to his staff as Senior Policy Advisor in October.

The release makes no mention of the motivation for the moves, but GOP sources have told me over the past few weeks that many of Ensign’s staffers were shocked by his conduct and were considering career moves.

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