Rep. Steven Palazzo invited friends to a tailgate party (left) in Annapolis, Md., during Columbus Day weekend. According to a police report, Palazzos staffers got into trouble after the lawmaker left.
The following morning, a young man who introduced himself as “Jason” went to the neighbor and “profusely” apologized for the disturbance. “He must have said sorry about 11 times,” the neighbor said.
As part of his mea culpa, the young man divulged that the occupants were all overzealous Hill staffers who had gotten a little crazy because their boss had never materialized.
“When we found out that he was not coming down with his family and kids, we decided to let our hair down,” Jason said, according to the neighbor.
The young man insisted to the neighbor that it would not happen again Saturday night.
When the good times resumed that evening — “There were bottles on the front stoop, bottles on the bumpers of the car … and a young man wandering around out front in his boxer shorts” — the neighbor gave the out-of-towners one more warning, at 11 p.m., before phoning the police.
Meanwhile, after being blindsided by noise complaints Friday night, the property manager called Donald on Saturday and demanded an explanation. Donald feigned ignorance, insisting that she, Palazzo and his family had been asleep at the house by 10 p.m.
When the property manager went Sunday morning to formally evict everyone, Donald said Palazzo had caught a flight that morning. Later, Donald’s story shifted again when she swore Palazzo and his family flew out Saturday to tend to his sick mother-in-law.
Monday morning following the brouhaha, the upset homeowner and property manager say they began contacting Palazzo’s office. According to both parties, Donald derailed every attempt to speak directly with the Congressman or a senior staffer.
The scheduler repeatedly spoke to the annoyed parties — over email and by the telephone — insisting she alone was the end-all-be-all point of contact.
“The only person you should be speaking with concerning the home is me,” Donald wrote to the property manager in a late-night email from her official House account on Oct. 9.
When Donald learned the property manager was also calling Palazzo’s district office, she fired off another email. “There is no one in our district office that you need to speak with,” Donald wrote Oct. 11. “All contact should be with me.” (Settle down there, bossy-pants.)
When the homeowner threatened to go to the media, Donald had another person call and pretend to be the Congressman.
Interestingly, Donald isn’t completely clueless about appropriate staff behavior.
“I work for a United States Congressman,” she wrote in one email. “And in no way, would I jeopardize my livelihood and my career for a football game weekend in Annapolis. I cannot (under law) use my boss’ name under false pretences.”
Donald promised to write the homeowner a handwritten apology and send an “array” of Southern Mississippi pecans.
Neither the property manager nor the homeowner had received an apology from Palazzo at press time. No word on the pecans, either.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.