What It Takes To Be A Congressman’s Driver
Empty his trash. Always have hand sanitizer and gum at the ready. And don’t bother with “unnecessary conversation” — the congressman doesn’t have time for your chitchat.
Demanding, high-maintenance bosses are notorious on Capitol Hill. The late Sen. Ted Kennedy’s staff had to walk his dog, poop pick-up and all. Former Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison made her male aides carry her purse.
The latest addition to the list: Rep. Todd Rokita, an Indiana Republican running in one of next year’s most competitive Senate races.
Who knew it could take eight pages of instructions on how to properly escort a member of Congress around his district? Yet there it is, laid out in mind-blowing detail, in a memo obtained by POLITICO that’s sure to make any young, eager-beaver political aide shudder.
Tasks listed in the document, entitled “Instructions on Staffing and Driving — District Version,” include handing Rokita a cup of black coffee upon picking him up at his home, acting as a physical barrier between him and trackers looking to capture embarrassing footage of the congressman, and “avoid[ing] sudden acceleration or braking” while driving.
“The goal is to provide as smooth a ride as possible,” reads the instruction manual, co-authored by a former chief of staff to the congressman and Tim Edson, Rokita’s ex-communications director-turned-campaign spokesman.
Drivers are expected to transport not only Rokita’s toothbrush and toothpaste but also stock and tote around the district a nearly 20-item supply box that Rokita’s staffers call “the football.” The contents include gum, hand sanitizer, business cards, bottled water, napkins and Kleenex, lozenges, a stapler and stapler remover, Post-it notes and Shout wipes, among other items.
Rokita needs a hanger in the car for his jacket. Never allow him to be photographed with a drink in his hand. And never forget, the memo states multiple times in boldface, underlined letters, to remind the 47-year-old to bring the essentials.
“When TER enters the car, check to ensure he has his phone and wallet,” the instructions say, referring to Rokita by his initials.
The missive opens by listing basic details any driver would need to know before a day of district events: locations, times, directions and points of contact on the ground. But it quickly morphs into a full-stage production, tasking drivers with doing in-depth research on each event, including knowing each event’s “greeter” and how Rokita will recognize him or her. Also make sure Rokita has “at least 10 percent more handouts than we anticipate attendees.”
Drivers are expected to know when each event was approved in Rokita’s scheduling office, whether reporters will be there and the best locations for interviews, as well as the layout of each event and where Rokita will be standing.
“A successful day begins in advance,” the memo reads. “If you cannot answer ALL of these questions, you are not prepared for the day.”
Because, of course, the Congressman, who recently declared his candidacy for the GOP nomination to challenge Indiana Senator Joe Donnelly in 2018, is incapable of driving himself or making sure he has enough gum.
Here’s the memorandum: