According to a 37-page memo obtained by the Daily Beast, new staffers going to work for Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, I-Ariz., are expected to attend to a multitude of personal tasks for the first-term senator -- and that is raising the eyebrows of some government watchdogs.
The Beast report from Sam Brodey explains that staffers need to be mindful of her personal time, which includes training for "her extensive schedule of training and competing in marathons and Ironman events" with a cautionary note that she has "time-consuming commitments outside of this job."
The memo reportedly states that aides need to check in with her if she needs groceries, should have a "room temperature bottle of water" at hand if she needs one and should be prepared to schedule weekly one-hour massages.
According to Brodey, "Sinema rarely does interviews or comments publicly about how she approaches the day-to-day work of being a senator. The scheduling memo offers a rare glimpse into how one of the Senate's most inscrutable—and most scrutinized—members approaches her job and runs her office," adding that the memo instructs staffers, "Do not schedule anything, ever, outside of 'regular' work hours without first getting Kyrsten's permission. She will very, very rarely agree to work outside the regular hours, so only ask if it's a big deal."
The report adds, "The document also makes clear that much of Sinema's time outside of 'regular hours' consists of exercising and training for athletic competition. 'She wakes up very early to work out, and sleep is very important to her,' it says. The memo also specifies that on weekends, she 'needs a later start to accommodate her training schedule,' which entails scheduling no work obligations earlier than 1 p.m."
"Unsurprisingly, some staffers found these instructions—and Sinema's zeal in ensuring they were followed to the letter—to not only be onerous but detrimental to the overall staff's mission to serve constituents, craft policy, and communicate that work to Arizona," with one former staffer complaining, "When I look back, it's unbelievable the amount of time staffers spent just to accommodate her."
As for the personal tasks, such as being available to let workmen into her apartment, ethics experts claim she is right up to the line -- or slightly over it -- with her demands of aides.
Noting that the Senate handbook clearly states, "staff are compensated for the purpose of assisting Senators in their official legislative and representational duties, and not for the purpose of performing personal or other non-official activities for themselves or on behalf of others," Brodey writes, "Craig Holman, a congressional ethics expert with the nonprofit group Public Citizen, said Sinema's apparent demands that staffers conduct personal tasks amount to a clear violation of Senate ethics rules, and would typically warrant a formal reprimand by the Senate Ethics Committee."
Asked for comment a spokesperson for the Arizona senator told the Beast, "the alleged information—sourced from anonymous quotes and a purported document I can't verify—is not in line with official guidance from Sen. Sinema's office and does not represent official policies of Sen. Sinema's office."
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