The former staffer, Sonja Wagner, 74—a graphic artist who, like many of her colleagues, saw pornography as a “survival job”—was for 16 years a freelance art director on scores of Perretta’s X-rated titles before he stopped giving her work in 2009. She said that it was common knowledge among Perretta’s employees that female members of Garrett’s staff had complained about Perretta’s company, apparently to building manager Vornado Reality Trust, which maintains offices in the building on the second, fourth, and fifth floors. According to Wagner, Garrett’s staff did not want to share the second-floor bathroom with pornographers, and soon after raising the complaint they began using the bathroom on the fifth floor to avoid them.
The staff complaint illuminates one of the darker corners of Garrett’s political philosophy—one that seems to mesh with Perretta’s. Garrett, a Tea Party icon and a “birther” who, citing states’ rights, was one of only 33 representatives to vote against the reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act in 2006. The act prohibits voting discrimination based on race, and 390 house members voted to renew it.
A 2010 survey by the University of Washington Institute for the Study of Ethnicity, Race & Sexuality indicated that Tea Party supporters have a 25 percent higher probability of being racially resentful than those who do not support the Tea Party.
Garrett’s staff apparently harbors a reflexive segregating impulse reminiscent of the pre-1965 Jim Crow laws enforced in all southern states of the former Confederacy. These laws demanded racial segregation in public facilities, notably “white only” and “colored only” bathrooms. In this peculiar 21st century case, Garrett’s staff wanted “separate but equal” facilities for pornographers and Republicans.
Ironically, Perretta’s company also produces a line of magazines marketed to an African American audience, including Hype Hair, Today’s Black Woman, Black Men, and Word Up. Yet Perretta has referred to his minority employees as “animals,” and in one instance said to an African American art director, “Shrink that photo—like your ancestors shrunk heads.”
Among the hardcore magazines and websites that Perretta controls are Club, Gallery, High Society, Swank, Gent, Genesis, Fox, Velvet, Just 18, and Cheri.
“It’s against house ethics for me to comment about Garrett’s campaign,” said Ben Veghte, who works in Garrett’s Washington office.
The office of Scott Garrett for Congress has so far not returned calls and so has neither confirmed nor denied that Garrett was aware that his staff had complained about Perretta’s company, one of the largest producers of hardcore pornography in America.
Vornado Realty Trust, as a policy, does not comment on tenants, and so has neither confirmed nor denied that members of Garrett’s staff had formally complained to them about having to share a bathroom with employees of a company that produced hardcore pornography.