News & Politics

Virginia Republican Congressman Running for Reelection Reportedly Treats Staffers As Personal 'Servants'

The troubled campaign is facing a mounting scandal.

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore

On Thursday, Republican Rep. Tom Garrett gave a strange and rambling press conference to tell everyone that he was indeed planning on running for a second term in Virginia’s 5th district. The press conference came after Politico had reported Garrett was considering retiring. On Friday, Politico added another piece of the puzzle to the last few days of strangeness and speculations.

Freshman Rep. Tom Garrett (R-Va.) and his wife turned the congressman’s staff into personal servants, multiple former aides told POLITICO — assigning them tasks from grocery shopping to fetching the congressman’s clothes to caring for their pet dog, all during work hours.

POLITICO has spoken with four former staffers who detailed a deeply dysfunctional office, where the congressman and his wife, Flanna, often demanded that staff run personal errands outside their typical congressional duties. The couple called on staff to pick up groceries, chauffeur Garrett’s daughters to and from his Virginia district, and fetch clothes that the congressman forgot at his Washington apartment. They were even expected to watch and clean up after Sophie, their Jack Russell-Pomeranian mix, the aides said.

The aides seem to say that Rep. Garrett’s wife, Flanna, is a fixture in Rep. Garrett’s office. Aides told Politico they weren’t sure who they were working for; and feared losing their station if they didn’t accommodate even the least professional of requests. According to Politico’s sources, the servitude to the Garretts began slowly: shopping for groceries here and there, picking up clean clothes forgotten at home, those sorts of things. They then graduated to more important political tasks, like taking care of the Garrett’s dog as well as playing uber-drivers to Garrett’s children.

Aides also grew acquainted with the couple’s dog, Sophie, who often came to the office with Garrett and Flanna. 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.

And while Garrett’s office has said that the accusations are baseless; of course the turnover rate in Garrett’s congressional office is alarming. According to the report Garrett’s employee turnover was around 60 percent last year, when the average turnover rate in congressional offices is about 25 percent. Those numbers are saying something.

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Walter Einenkel is a social media editor and writer at DailyKos.