Politico spoke to four former congressional staffers who'd been assigned to Rep. Tom Garrett [R-VA] who say that the Congressman and his wife treated the staff as "personal servants," demanding that they run personal errands for the Congressman and his family (including handling his dog's feces), and that they were expected to do these things at all hours.
Staffers they feared the explosive tempers of the Congressman and his wife and did not feel that they could question whether these duties were within the scope of their work.
Garrett, who has served since 2017, has one of the highest rates of employee turnover on the Hill. His chief of staff, Jimmy Keady, was abruptly fired by the Congressman on Tuesday night, allegedly over Keady's questioning of Garrett's "misuse of official resources." Garrett tried to re-hire Keady on Thursday morning before a press conference. Keady refused.
Garett's spokesman would not comment on the allegations.
Much of the controversy stemmed from Garrett's wife, Flanna, a frequent presence in his House office. Former staffers said she comes to work with him on most weekdays.
Early in his tenure, staffers say, Flanna began asking aides to perform what they considered to be tasks that were unofficial and personal in nature. One staffer recalled an instance in which he had been asked to pick her up from the grocery store, drive her to the couple's apartment and help her unload groceries. Tom Garrett was at a baseball game and was unable to help, the staffer was told at the time.
Garrett also had staffers run errands for him. From time to time, two former staffers recalled, the congressman would arrive to work having forgotten to wear a belt or with a stain on his shirt, they said. Garrett, they said, would dispatch aides to his apartment to pick up fresh clothes for him.
Aides also grew acquainted with the couple's dog, who often came to the office with the Garretts. Staffers were expected to watch the dog during office hours, and one aide did so over a weekend. Several aides said the couple would sometimes seem to forget the dog was in the office. When that happened, at the end of the day, aides were responsible for transporting it back to Garrett's Washington apartment.
One source said the dog occasionally defecated on the floor and aides had to clean up the mess.
Aides also served as drivers for the congressman's older daughters from a previous marriage, according to three sources with direct knowledge of the matter. Interns or other staffers were sent to Scottsville, Virginia, where the two lived in Garrett's district, to pick them up and bring them to Washington. Scottsville is a three-hour drive from D.C.
Ex-aides say congressman made them his servants [Rachael Bade, Alex Isenstadt, and Kyle Cheney/Politico]