Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-NY) is one of the most liberal Democrats on Capitol Hill.
She has voiced views on abortion, LGBT rights, gun control, and even advocated repealing part of the Affordable Care Act that benefits schoolchildren.
Rice also has a fairly low attendance record in her House of Representatives office, according to staff who’ve worked there.
Four former staff members at Rice’s Long Island, NY, office told the New York Post in an interview published Monday that they have heard colleagues complain for years about her unreasonable demands for more work around the clock, saying she would only agree to let someone answer the phone on a Monday morning if she were in town.
“She likes to be hands-on all the time,” said a former staffer. “She works very hard. But she works a lot.”
As Long Island’s most closely watched congressional race, this account raises serious questions about the ability of the most liberal, progressive Democratic House member in her district to run an efficient and professional office.
Rice has an overwhelmingly progressive voting record. She was the co-founder of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and a founding member of the New American Revolution group, founded to improve immigration reform and enact Medicare for All. She was endorsed by every major progressive organization last week.
As one former staffer put it: “Anyone working for her in her office has to assume they’re going to do well.”
But what you don’t see on the Hill is the challenge of “work ethic” facing most rank-and-file members. Lobbyists say many lawmakers at the top of their office are typically two or three hours early, whereas most staffers in a congressional office aren’t expected to be in the office until 7 p.m. It can be a complete culture clash, a multi-million dollar department that no one has more time for, and no one makes more money.
Rice’s spokesman didn’t address her Washington Post story when reached by Fox News. Instead, he touted Rice’s conservative record on guns and gun rights, which he said the incumbent released during the midterm elections.
Rice’s office also posted a video Tuesday touting her conservative voting record, along with endorsements from the National Rifle Association, National Right to Life, and a number of other Republican-aligned groups.
Rice’s open question is whether she can be true to her liberal base without hurting her re-election campaign. Her family business was founded by her father in Atlantic Beach, and it was his sugar cane farm that helped Democrats pick up both houses of Congress in 2006.
It’s possible she would refuse to fulfill the hours she requests. When former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton demanded unlimited overtime for the dozens of staff who work on her campaign, it backfired. Clinton’s campaign was thrown into turmoil when former advisers in the state of New York said she refused to work the hours they wanted her to.