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Mike Lee, Utah's renegade senator, has accepted a spot on the Republican leadership team, counseling Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Lee came to office in 2010 after beating one of McConnell's best friends, former Sen. Bob Bennett, R-Utah, who also once served in the appointed position of counsel.

And since then Lee has defied his party's elders on numerous occasions, including late last year when he joined with Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, in scuttling a deal McConnell negotiated to end the session. They did so to continue fighting against the president's immigration actions, but inadvertently allowed Democrats to get through some of President Barack Obama's nominees before that party lost the majority. Some Republican senators, including Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, criticized Cruz and Lee.

On Tuesday, McConnell became the majority leader and one of his first acts was to name four appointed counselors who will help guide the Republicans.

In a statement McConnell said that Lee would "bring valuable insights to our conference on issues that affect American families."

And Lee said: "Republicans have bold ideas and effective solutions to handle some of the country's most challenging and persistent problems. I am excited to have the opportunity to put these conservative policy reforms into action, move forward on a positive agenda, and begin restoring trust and transparency in government."

The other three counselors are Sens. Rob Portman of Ohio, Deb Fischer of Nebraska, and Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia.

Lee is by far the most conservative of that group. He has deep tea party ties and has long distanced himself from the Republican orthodoxy.

Bennett, the first senator to hold the title "counsel," sees Lee's appointment to the leadership team as a sign that McConnell wants to reach out to the far right wing of the party.

"McConnell is moving to expand his connections with all parts of the conference regardless of where they are in the ideological spectrum," said Bennett.

The spot isn't ceremonial. The counselors will advise McConnell and other Republican leaders on what legislation to bring up and when. Bennett also used to join the Republicans in meetings with the president.

Twitter: @mattcanham