Since her election victory in 1995, Lee has been an outspoken politician leading the charge on issues relating to minorities and civil rights in this country. She has been an ardent supporter of affirmative action, immigrant and women's rights, attacking any legislation that she feels disenfranchises vulnerable minority communities.
However, according to a recent expose in The Daily Caller, Lee's fiercest attacks have apparently been against the members of her own staff. The congresswoman is, reportedly, meaner than James Evans after working a long August day at the car wash. Former staffers report she's like Sho-nuff, Eviline and the mean lieutenant in Beverly Hills Cop, all wrapped into one.
Normally, Congress is meant to be a bastion of good breeding and gentility where civil discourse trumps nasty rhetoric and name calling. However, Lee must have missed that part of Freshman Orientation.
Over a 10 year span, Lee has one of the highest staff turnover rates in Washington, with at least 39 staffers leaving within one year. Over that time, Lee has employed at least nine chiefs of staff, eight legislative directors, and 18 schedulers or executive assistants, according to records of federal disclosure forms published by the website Legistorm. Nine staffers left within two months, 25 within 6 months.
"You Sexy M.F."
Jonathan Strong, a writer for The Daily Caller, reports that Lee has handed out nicknames to staffers, including "you stupid motherf***er," and ex-staffers allege that she is hardest on African American staffers. "You stupid mother-effer' was like a constant," says one.
"Like, all the time. But the interesting thing is she would really project that behavior more towards her African American staffers... This is something we always talked about. We chalked it up to her just feeling more comfortable acting out her aggression toward a certain group of people versus others."
Another staffer said, "She is very strange in who she insults and how. For some reason, it seemed like she was racist against African Americans."
"I Hate You So Much Right Now"
According to Strong, another Jackson Lee aide recounts the time her parents came to Washington to visit: "They were really excited to come to the congressional office. They're small town people, so for them it was a huge deal. They were actually sitting in the main lobby waiting area....[Jackson Lee] came out screaming at me over a scheduling change. Called me a 'stupid idiot. Don't be a moron, you foolish girl' and actually did this in front of my parents, of all things."
"You're so Vain"
Another staffer remembers requesting a meeting with Lee to ask how best to serve the congresswoman. Jackson Lee's response: "What? What did you say to me? Who are you, the Congresswoman? You haven't been elected. You don't set up meetings with me! I tell you! You know what? You are the most unprofessional person I have ever met in my life." With that, Jackson Lee hung up the phone.
"The Other Side of the Game"
Former aide Michael McQuerry said his experience with other "difficult" bosses on the Hill prepared him for how to handle Jackson Lee. "I've worked for two other members. They did the same thing," he said.
"It was at first, I'm not going to lie to you, it was a rough patch with her and me. But I took her to the side and I let her know that, you know, 'Congresswoman, I'm a man before anything else.' And after that, we had no problems. We had no problems," McQuerry said.
Of the scores of Jackson Lee staffers contacted by The Daily Caller, only McQuerry offered an affirmative defense of the congresswoman's management techniques. "A lot of people just did not know how to go, and say, 'hey, that's inappropriate,'" McQuerry said.
"She's Your Queen to Be"
"I am a queen, and I demand to be treated like a queen," Jackson Lee once said according to Strong, and apparently she wasn't kidding. Her employees describe waiting for their boss for hours on end, sometimes late into the night, while she attends events or even sits in her office watching TV.
"She liked to hold her staff meetings - she would individually pull in the deputy chief of staff, myself and some other people individually to go over different parts of her day. But she would literally wait until super late at night. None of us could go home... And if she called and you didn't answer, it was like World War III," the source said.
"Waiting To Exhale"
Jackson Lee's driver picks her up at her apartment one block from her office each morning and waits for her outside wherever she goes throughout the days and nights. (Clearly she isn't down with Michelle's Let's Move campaign...)
"Whatever time she told me to be there, I would always show up at least 20 minutes late, and expect to wait at least 45 minutes," said one of Jackson Lee's drivers. "She was making me wait in the car, sometimes upwards of five to seven hours per day."
One woman who interviewed for a job in Jackson Lee's office arrived at 5:00 p.m. and ended up waiting for over five hours. "I sat there, no kidding, from 5:00 p.m. until 10:30 p.m...She actually went out to dinner while I was sitting there waiting for an interview," the woman said. A Lee staffer called the woman at 11:15 p.m. after she'd just arrived home, to beg her to come back. The congresswoman was finally ready.
"The Freaks Come Out At Night"
Apparently, there is no such thing as "Close of Business" in Jackson Lee's office. "In the middle of the night, people had to go get her garlic. She'll call you at two in the morning for garlic because she takes them as supplements," a former staffer said.
One staffer was at a midnight mass on Christmas Eve when the boss called. She didn't answer. "She got so irritated that I wasn't answering her call on Christmas Eve. So she called me every minute for 56 minutes," Strong's source stated.
Ex-staffers also told Strong that Lee often told staffers, "What am I a prostitute? Am I your prostitute? You can't prostitute me," and would demand that they run red lights. She has reportedly yelled at Secret Service Agents after they asked her driver to move the car, "I'm Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee! Who do you think you are?"
At least one ex-staffer's doctor advised them to quit due to the health toll that working for Jackson Lee was taking.
"We would sit around and try to analyze why she was so miserable," a former staffer said, "We all kind of felt bad for her. She was such a lonely, miserable person. And it must suck to work on Capitol Hill and have all of your colleagues hate you, right?"
Frankly staffers, I don't think she gives a damn. She says you all have "Ten Seconds."
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