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The Journal Gazette

Saturday, August 19, 2017 1:00 am

Many must-haves for Rokita drivers

Politico obtains 8-page list; don't forget the stapler

BRIAN FRANCISCO | The Journal Gazette

U.S. Rep. Todd Rokita, who seeks the Republican nomination for a Senate seat from Indiana, is quite the stickler for detail when traveling, according to a Friday story by Politico.

The news organization obtained an eight-page list of instructions for Rokita staffers who drive him around his western Indiana district. 

Must-have items for his vehicle include toothbrush and toothpaste, gum, Kleenex facial tissue, lozenges, napkins (listed twice), Shout wipes, hand sanitizer, writing materials, stapler, staples and staple remover.

When a driver arrives at Rokita's home, “please have a cup of black coffee available for him,” the instructions state. 

Also: “Back the vehicle out of the garage and turn it around so you can exit the driveway when Representative Rokita gets to the car. Make sure you pull the car far enough forward that exhaust fumes won't get in the garage.”

Politico reporters John Bresnahan and Rachael Bade write, “Demanding, high-maintenance bosses are notorious on Capitol Hill.” They also write the Rokita memo is “sure to make any young, eager-beaver political aide shudder.” 

The Rokita list states his driver should not interrupt him “with unnecessary conversation.” Each time Rokita, R-4th, gets into the vehicle throughout the day, and when he is taken home, the driver is to make sure the congressman has his phone and wallet. 

At events that Rokita attends, his accompanying staffer must fetch him a non-alcoholic drink but “Do not take photos of TER with a drink visible in his hand.” Rokita is identified by his initials throughout the list.

In a section on talking with news media at events, “Generally less is more when dealing with press,” the instructions state, adding, “TER should not be allowed to talk to any reporter for more than the allotted time.”

Rokita campaign spokesman Tim Edson told Politico in an email that “there is nothing embarrassing about always being prepared.” Politico identified Edson as a co-author of the instructions.

Edson blamed Rep. Luke Messer, R-6th, a Rokita rival for the GOP Senate nomination, for leaking the instructions list.

Messer wrote Friday on Twitter that his only guideline for drivers is: “Stop at Greensburg Pizza King at the end of the day, so the Congressman can pay for 10 inch pepperoni pizza that he will have already ordered. (Do NOT tell Mrs. Messer).”

A former staffer for Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly, whom Messer and Rokita seek to unseat in the 2018 general election, tweeted several times Friday about Donnelly's traveling habits.

“Joe doesn't require anything in the car. He may power nap or call a friend, but that's about it. He likes listening to baseball on the radio,” Ryan Mann, who identifies himself as an Indianapolis government employee, wrote on Twitter.

“Fun fact: Joe plans his festival parking to be closest to Lemon Shakeup stands so he can get one when he arrives and another when he leaves,” Mann tweeted.

Donnelly likes McDonald's french fries so much that he will wait patiently for a fresh batch to be ready before ordering, Mann tweeted.

The Journal Gazette asked the press secretary for Rep. Jim Banks, R-3rd, about his travel instructions.

“He often drives himself, but our only real rule is to never get between him and a cup of coffee,” Anna Swick said in an email.