December 5, 2011

In his Nov. 30 column, “A bully leaves his pulpit,” Dana Milbank grossly mischaracterized how I and my colleagues, members of Rep. Barney Frank’s staff past and present, feel toward him. I feel fortunate to have worked for him, and I have the highest respect for his integrity, brilliance and dedication to enduring democratic principles. But my colleagues and I also are grateful to him for his absolute loyalty to us, for his graciousness in sharing credit for what we collectively accomplish and for his respect for our personal lives outside the pressure-cooker environment of Capitol Hill.

In a congressional culture of deference, we all know him simply as Barney. He demands that we deliver at the highest standards of government service, but he often praises us publicly and privately for our work and dedication. He allows us to take time to care for our loved ones and to raise our children, and he respects the importance of family. If he makes a bad decision, he personally takes the heat; he doesn’t use staff as a shield.

This isn’t only my opinion. I speak here for 60 of my colleagues who asked to co-sign this letter. But one simple metric tells the heart of the story: Barney has one of the most tenured offices on Capitol Hill. Where career longevity in “tough” offices can be measured in weeks or months, Barney has 10 staff members who have been with him for more than 10 years.

I have real affection and the highest regard for Barney Frank. When a caller to our office who disagrees with Barney’s politics asked me how I could work for him, I said simply, “with great pride and honor.” I know my colleagues would agree.

Bruno Freitas, Washington

The writer is chief of staff and legislative director for Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.).