By Kris Kitto - 04/08/08 05:47 PM EDT
Rep. Lynn Westmoreland’s (R-Ga.) new staff assistant is named Sister Edge. “It’s kind of an old Southern nickname is what I’ve heard,” Edge says.
Edge is Southern — she grew up in Neunan, Ga., an Atlanta suburb and a part of her boss’s district — but she’s not old. The 24-year-old patiently explains that two of her female relatives were also called Sister. The name that appears on Edge’s birth certificate is Harriette Lynn, though almost no one calls her that.
Other family members have interesting names. Her dad’s name is Skin, her mother’s name is Bambi, her brother’s name is also Skin and her sister’s name is Mimi. Her mother’s is the only given name; the rest are nicknames.
Edge is accustomed to her name coming up in conversation. If people read or hear it before meeting her, “they expect either a really old woman or a nun.”
Edge joined Westmoreland’s office in January, and her colleague Jonathan Porter was promoted at that time from staff assistant to legislative correspondent.
The two staffers do what most other staff assistants and legislative correspondents do. Edge schedules Capitol and White House tours and oversees flag requests. Porter, also 24, answers the congressman’s mail “from sun-up to sundown,” handling requests concerning foreign affairs, arts, space and other policy issues.
But working for Westmoreland comes with special duties. Edge, Porter and their colleagues are the keepers of the Coca-Cola room.
All members of the Georgia delegation receive regular shipments of free Coke products, a perk that makes Westmoreland’s office a hot spot on the Hill. One of the office’s storage closets is stacked high with the Georgia company’s soft drinks, including cans of Coke, Diet Coke and Cherry Coke Zero.
Edge, a smiley, friendly person who sits at the front desk, is the first line of defense.
“I guard the gate,” she says. “I decide who gets [a Coke] and who doesn’t.”
She and Porter know the power they wield over colleagues from other offices. They reminisce about deals other Hill staffers have tried to strike with them with offers of seemingly lesser items: orange juice, Jelly Bellies, Little Debbie snack cakes.
“People usually propose to us because Coke is highly coveted,” Edge says nonchalantly. “There are some people who come in every day and take … a six-pack every day.”
This and other abuses of the office’s generosity annoy Porter.
“We’re happy to help out the committee staffs that we’re on, but a lot of the time that’s stretched beyond reasonable …” he trails off while finishing a Cherry Coke Zero.
After spending his days drinking unlimited Coke products, Porter goes home to brew his own sweet tea, a staple the Georgia native misses about his home state.
Not surprisingly, considering their perks and power, both Edge and Porter say they are happy working for Westmoreland and hope to continue ascending the legislative hierarchy.