The LuLac Edition #1083, Jan. 30th, 2010
PHOTO INDEX: OUR INTERVIEW LOGO.
This past week State Senator Ray Musto retired from public life. I talked with a former staffer of his who served on his team when Mr. Musto was in Congress. Here’s what he said:
Q: How’d you get the job?
A: I was at Georgetown and applied. Hiring a local kid who knew the town seemed to be one of the things that got me the job.
Q: Impressive surroundings?
A: No, Ray was a Freshman member but well thought of. But we were in a little office with a whole bunch of Selectric's (editor’s note: typewriters) and tables.
Q: What was your job?
A: We answered and wrote constituent letters.
Q: All the time?
A: Constantly. Mr. Musto was big on getting back to his people. It didn’t matter what party, what town, he really, really took it seriously.
Q: Were they form letters?
A: To the degree that there was a formula but the body of the letter was vintage Ray.
Q: Did you just crank them out all the time?
A: No, Ray always saw most of them and sometimes we’d get them back to re-write if a fact was wrong, a name or town was incorrect or if there wasn’t a reference he wanted. He had one person dedicated to answering questions on black lung. That's all that person did all day long.
Q: Do you think he was a good Congressman?
A: I think he didn’t have the time to be a good one. I mean a great one. He was more active than some guys were and those guys were there for years. But he was running a campaign, running an office, trying to learn the job and be on the floor.
Q: If he had not lost would you still be with him?
Q: Where did you go after?
A: Musto recommended me for a job at the Pentagon. I was hired January 19, 1981, a day before Reagan froze all new federal appointments.
Q: Did you ever give him money in exchange for that recommendation? I mean did you ever contribute to his campaign?
A: No. He just asked me what I was going to do and I told him I was applying there. He gave me a nice letter.
Q: That start date was pretty unique the day before the hiring freeze. Do you think Ray knew about that?
A: Possibly. It was surreal, here’s a man who lost an election, gave up a safe seat to go to Washington and his only concern was getting jobs for his staff, even low level idiots like me.
Q: You’re being pretty hard on yourself there.
A: (Laughing), we’re all idiots but to be a low level idiot takes some doing.
Q: Ray was a pretty good judge of staff over the years. Did anything get past him?
A: Not really. Although I think it surprised him that I was a Republican after he wrote out my letter of recommendation.
Q: What was his reaction?
A: "If being a Republican and getting a letter from me doesn’t get you in the Pentagon," he said, "then nothing will." He said maybe he should leave it for Nelligan. (editor note: Musto's successor and victor in the 1980 race).
Q: Do you think it (your affiliation) would have mattered?
A: No, Ray was totally politically color blind. He never saw the party, but the person.
Q: Lucky for you.
A: And lucky for his constituents.