It’s common knowledge that Kyrsten Sinema—about as elusive sartorially as she is ideologically—is one of the oddest birds in the Senate. But according to The Daily Beast, the Arizona senator’s workplace oddities might very well violate Senate ethics rules.
On Thursday, the outlet published portions of what it says is a leaked 37-page internal memo that features a litany of staff requests from the newly minted independent, which, taken together, resemble a cross between a celebrity rider and a professional athlete’s workout routine: Take, for example, the sections that include curiously specific requests. “Make sure to always have a room temperature bottle of water for her, whether she is in the office, at call time, or in someone’s car,” reads the memo, which The Daily Beast says is at least two years old and may not reflect Sinema’s current demands. “When someone is picking KS up from the airport, they should ALWAYS have a bottle of water for her… It is your job to remind whoever is staffing KS to have water for her.”
Other sections raise ethical questions regarding the use of aides to run personal errands for lawmakers. At the start of the work week, Sinema’s executive assistant must ask “if she needs groceries,” states the memo, noting that they will be reimbursed for the procurements. Should the internet in Sinema’s private apartment go down, the memo requires the lawmaker’s executive assistant to “call Verizon to schedule a repair,” and then dispatch a staffer to let Verizon workers inside her home. Suffice to say, these demands appear at odds with Senate ethics rules, which establish that “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 nonofficial activities for themselves or on behalf of others.”
A marathon runner and Ironman fanatic, Sinema’s fitness regimen is also included in the memo, along with other “time-consuming” nonwork commitments. “She wakes up very early to work out, and sleep is very important to her,” reads the memo, noting that Sinema does not begin work prior to 8:45 a.m. and is “often not reachable” after 8 p.m. on weekdays. The senator’s diet and fitness regimen includes three separate eating times during the workday, and stipulates that Sinema must attend two 45-minute physical therapy sessions every week that can overlap with work calls. One former aide told The Daily Beast that Sinema had her staff arrange an hour-long massage every week, which, at times, was booked during work hours.
In a statement to The Daily Beast, the senator’s communications director, Hannah Hurley, denied the report. “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,” said Hurley, who insisted that Sinema “does not require staff to perform personal errands.”
The memo comes as a new push for workplace equity and transparency is percolating on the Hill. Earlier this year, anonymous complaints made against lawmakers on social media helped inspire unionization efforts among House staffers, with five offices voting to unionize thus far.