Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
September 16, 2014

September 16, 2014

Web Firm Shows Democrats Extra Love Behind the Scenes

There are those who suspect that politicians, and by extension, their corresponding messaging operations, will say one thing even if they secretly believe something else entirely.

Not so with Wide Eye Creative, a web design outfit which champions its clients every bit of the way.

BuzzFeed’s Jeremy Singer-Vine stumbled upon just how deep the site developer’s devotion permeates while sniffing around the back end of Senate hopeful Alison Lundergan Grimes’ campaign page.

 

Web Firm Shows Democrats Extra Love Behind the Scenes

(Screenshot)

 

Those who view the page via its assigned URL would never know about the ASCII love Team WEC tucked into the coding language — because it’s not meant for them.

“Just a nice little easter egg for anyone who looks at the code,” WEC creative director Ben Ostrower said of the digital valentine inserted into a jumble of characters that give the web meaning.

According to Ostrower, WEC began seeding its political sites with similar signatures about a year ago. Full story

Overheard: This Is Your Brain on Baked and Wired

“Could you put me back on hold? I’ll hang up in a bit, but I really like your hold music.”

— Man on phone at Georgetown’s Baked and Wired.

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Female Senators Work as a Team, Gillibrand Assures Supporters

If there’s one thing Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand has come to appreciate about working on Capitol Hill (there’s gotta be something good about #ThisTown, right?), it’s the collaborative environment she and the other 19 female senators have joined forces to foster.

Female Senators Work as a Team, Gillibrand Assures Supporters

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

“We cheer each other on,” the New York Democrat told well-wishers at a D.C. book party about the camaraderie the female pols have developed in their respective chamber.

“We don’t agree on everything. But we often want to find the common ground, because we want to get things done,” she explained to HOH. “And that makes a huge difference.”

Gillbrand trumpeted the workplace sisterhood during remarks she gave at a cocktail party in honor of her new book, “Off the Sidelines.” Political activist Connie Milstein, someone Gillibrand has apparently come to count on, opened up her fabulous art-filled home for the event.

“I’m just grateful for every bit of generosity you’ve ever extended,” Gillibrand thanked the beaming host. Full story

The Maine Attraction: Chellie Pingree Cultivates Her Own Food Capital

The Maine Attraction: Chellie Pingree Cultivates Her Own Food Capital

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

NORTH HAVEN, Maine — Should she ever tire of battling opposing lawmakers on Capitol Hill, Rep. Chellie Pingree could always kick back and indulge in one of her favorite pastimes: shaking cocktails for the pleasure seekers who pour into her farm-to-table restaurant each summer.

“I am always telling people that it’s good to have a backup career when you are in Congress. And being a bartender isn’t really that different,” the Maine Democrat shared during a candid discussion about her blossoming dining empire.

Still, the three-term lawmaker insists she never planned on becoming a hospitality maven.

“When I bought the inn, I really intended it to be more of a community project to help create a few jobs … and make sure that it was easier for people to find lodging when they had a guest coming,” Pingree said.

The Maine Attraction: Chellie Pingree Cultivates Her Own Food Capital

But her budding portfolio, which includes the critically acclaimed Nebo Lodge and its larder-filling sibling, Turner Farm, appears to be steadily outperforming her modest ambitions. She currently employs about 70-plus people (predominantly women) in a community comprised of around 300 year-round residents.

How this fledgling restaurateur managed to become the toast of her floating-in-Penobscot-Bay town is no big mystery.

She planted the seeds for this unexpected success decades ago. Full story

September 15, 2014

Montana State Society to Spike Mendelsohn: Que Cojones

Montana State Society President Jayne Leffingwell wants hospitality heavy Spike Mendelsohn to man up and get his own thing going.

Montana State Society to Spike Mendelsohn: Que Cojones

(Screenshot)

“Mendelsohn aka the Ballburglar, is attempting to hijack The Montana State Society’s signature event ‘The DC Testy Fest’ by hosting his own DC Festicle. While a testivus for the rest of us sounds fun, stealing our original sack lunch is not ‘Good Stuff,’” Leffingwell said in a tongue-in-cheek statement.

The Montana State Society has done its part to exalt the nether regions-related nosh for more than  a decade now. Mendelsohn is jumping into the fray on Sept. 21 with the unveiling of Spiked Events’ debut soiree, a come-as-you-are affair featuring live music, micro wrestling, circus performers and culinary cook-offs.

Per Festicle promotional materials, Mendelsohn is expected to face off against fellow toques Erik Bruner-Yang, of Toki Underground fame, and Tim Ma, the driving force behind Maple Ave and the newish Water & Wall, in a “Top Chef-style” competition where the contestants will have to conjure up some tasty from the featured testes.

And that just rubs Leffingwell raw.

“With more than 750+ attendees going nuts and consuming nearly 200 lbs of testicles this year, we like to consider ourselves the reigning rocky mountain oyster aficionados,” she maintained.

“The ball is in your court Mr. Mendelsohn. We’ll see how you measure up,” Leffingwell said.

 

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Tim Ryan Dresses Down Urban Outfitters Over Sweatshirt-gate

Bizarrely stained outer wear that Urban Outfitters rather unbelievably tied to Kent State University has made Rep. Tim Ryan’s blood boil.

Tim Ryan Dresses Down Urban Outfitters Over Sweatshirt gate

(Screenshot)

 

“On May 4, 1970, four students lost their lives at Kent State University and changed our country forever. It is deplorable for Urban Outfitters to exploit the pain and suffering of this national tragedy for their gain,” the Ohio Democrat said in a tersely worded official statement. “May 4th was a seminal and transformational moment in American history and we should never lose sight of its immense impact. Those who cannot remember the past, are condemned to repeat it.”

Ryan is referring, of course, to the horror scene that unfolded in Kent, Ohio, some 44 years ago, when the Ohio National Guard opened fire on Vietnam War protestors, killing four students and wounding nine others.

Full story

Rock On, Rockland

Rock On, Rockland

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

ROCKLAND, Maine – It may be a small town, but Rockland’s got a lot going for it.

The Maine Lobster Festival drives droves of shellfish lovers to the shores of the Penobscot Bay each August, the plastic bib-draped masses assembling to honor (and devour) the region’s claim to fame.

Bumping into newsmakers is evidently not uncommon. One New Yorker, who relocated to the area with his wife after their youngest flew the coop, said he catches sight of Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. from time to time in neighboring St. George.

“He’s totally normal up here. Doesn’t like anyone to call him judge,” the Empire State expat said of his dealings with the summering Supreme Courter.

Natives, it would seem, have very specific tastes when it comes to conducting their day-to-day affairs.

Core concerns include keeping:

Activities al fresco (topless freecycling, anyone?)

 

Rock On, Rockland

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

 

Rock On, Rockland

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

Full story

September 14, 2014

Congress, Bringing Up the Rear on ISIS | Capitol Quip

Congress, Bringing Up the Rear on ISIS | Capitol Quip

Congress seems to be unified that President Barack Obama needs to do something about the situation in Iraq and Syria. What that is, is a little less clear — given the muddled message from members. This brings us to this week’s Capitol Quip captioning contest.

Send us a caption for this week’s contest by leaving it in the comments section. Editors will pick five finalists on Wednesday, and everyone can vote for the winner through Thursday.

To see our previous winners, check us out on Pinterest.

 

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By Jason Dick Posted at 7:05 p.m.
Capitol Quip

Eric Cantor, at a Loss | Capitol Quip

Eric Cantor, at a Loss | Capitol Quip

Thanks to the many readers who contributed captions for last week’s Capitol Quip contest. Here’s the winning entry, as voted by readers of Heard on the Hill.

The winner will receive a signed color print suitable for framing from Roll Call cartoonist R. J. Matson. Check out our past winners on Pinterest.

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Mark Sanford Surprised Maria Belen Chapur With Facebook Post; She Blames Politics For Breakup

Mark Sanford Surprised Maria Belen Chapur With Facebook Post; She Blames Politics For Breakup

Chapur and Sanford in happier times. (Courtesy CNN)

Mark Sanford asked fiancee Maria Belen Chapur to wait two more years for a wedding. She said no — and Sanford then surprised her by writing that epic, now infamous Facebook post announcing the breakup and blaming the split on an ugly custody battle with his ex-wife, Jenny Sanford.

Chapur told The New York Times in an interview from Paris — where she had just spent a week with Sanford — that the South Carolina Republican wanted her to wait two more years for a wedding, an offer she rejected.

“I’ve already been five years waiting and two years since the engagement,” she said, when asking why she wrote to Sanford and rejected his offer of waiting two more years as a girlfriend before matrimony.

She told the paper she thinks the request by Sanford to wait two more years had more to do with his political ambitions than with his custody dispute, though in two years the custody dispute would be moot.

“I think that I was not useful to him anymore — he made the engagement thing four months before the elections,” Chapur told the Times. “So this is not about his son, this is about his career and his ambitions,” she said, even as she called Sanford “the love of my life.”

Full story

By Steven T. Dennis Posted at 10:12 a.m.
Uncategorized

September 12, 2014

Bill Maher Names Flip a District Pick

Bill Maher Names Flip a District Pick

Kline is the target of Bill Maher’s Flip a District effort. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Updated: 3:44 p.m. | From now until Election Day, comedian Bill Maher has made it his mission to ensure Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., does not come back to Congress.

On Friday evening, Maher announced Kline as the target of his Flip a District campaign after the six-term Republican garnered the most votes from viewers during a live taping of his HBO program, “Real Time with Bill Maher,” at the Warner Theater in Washington, D.C.

“I know what you’re thinking: You never heard of John Kline,”  said Maher, who added Kline is “one of those silent threats you never see coming … He’s not funny. He’s just wrong about everything.” Full story

By Bridget Bowman Posted at 10:46 p.m.
FightingWords, Reps

The Mark Sanford Breakup Mixtape

Nobody likes a breakup. So when the Roll Call newsroom caught wind of South Carolina Rep. Mark Sanford’s 2,346-word Facebook post announcing his breakup with fiancée Maria Belén Chapur as the result of an ongoing custody battle with his ex-wife, we wanted to help.

Here’s a Spotify playlist that Rep. Sanford can drown his sorrows with while he eats his Ben and Jerry’s.

 

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Mark Sanford Calls Off Engagement in Epic Facebook Post

Mark Sanford Calls Off Engagement in Epic Facebook Post

Sanford broke the news on Facebook. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

In an epic Facebook post, Rep. Mark Sanford announced he is calling off his engagement with Maria Belén Chapur because of the stress of an ongoing custody dispute with his ex-wife, Jenny Sanford.

The South Carolina Republican famously left the state as governor for a secret tryst with Chapur while claiming he was hiking the Appalachian Trail. When he was caught, the incident interrupted an ascendant political career and ended his marriage before he made a comeback.

In the 2,346-word Facebook post, Sanford details the stress of his ongoing custody disputes with his ex-wife, including a new suit seeking to limit his access to one of his sons — something Sanford said he already doesn’t have because she has full custody and has been limiting his access already.

“I cannot do this anymore,” he says at one point. Here’s a key passage:

“In their summons I am ‘restrained’ from the following:

“Consuming or being under the influence of illegal drugs or excessive amounts of alcohol in the presence, or while responsible for, the care of the minor child.” This really is crazy. Why would one throw out the need for restraint if it were not a problem – or if one did not want to raise the specter of a problem? On this one all I can ask is that you talk to anyone who has seen or known me over my entire 54 years in the Low Country. I have never taken any illegal drug in my life. I did not drink in high school or college and though I do drink now, my consumption is so limited that my friends give me a hard time about it. I will have but one beer or two when out at a social occasion.

“Restrained from entering or attempting to enter the property of Plaintiff.” We have already been through this with the Super bowl and my taking our youngest son Blake home from a Super bowl party two years ago when his mom was out of town. I made the wrong call (though I thought the right call as a dad to be with him and not to just drop him off) and have never set foot on her property since then. I don’t know why this is being brought back up again.

“Exposing the minor child overnight to a member of the opposite sex not related by blood who could be reasonably construed as a paramour.” Though Jenny herself has certainly not lived up to this clause it is clearly aimed at me given near everyone knows about Belen and in that regard it seems designed to create intrigue where none exists. The younger boys have never spent a night housed under the same roof with Belen and with the exception of one night and a major conversation that lasted well into that night, the same holds true for the older boys. I was primarily motivated to do so by a love for the boys and wanting to go to great lengths to never again put them in an uncomfortable spot. I was also motivated by fear because there was very frequently a consequence in not being allowed to see the boys if I did something my former wife disliked.

No relationship can stand forever this tension of being forced to pick between the one you love and your own son or daughter, and for this reason Belen and I have decided to call off the engagement. Maybe there will be another chapter when waters calm with Jenny, but at this point the environment is not conducive to building anything given no one would want to be caught in the middle of what’s now happening. Belen is a remarkably wonderful woman who I have always loved and I will be forever grateful for not only the many years we have known and loved each other, but the last six very tough ones wherein she has encouraged me and silently borne its tribulations with her ever warm and kind spirit.”

If the Palmetto State bachelor needs help completing the catharsis, maybe this Spotify playlist compiled by the Roll Call newsroom will help.

Related Stories:

Sanford Steps Out With Fiancee at CNN Party

Fantastic Sanford-Appalachian Trail Gala Timing

Mark Sanford, Baby He Was Born to Run

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Congressional Hits and Misses: Week of September 8 (Video)

After a five-week recess, members returned to discuss the “crisis with ISIS” and Dick Cheney while reminding C-SPAN viewers to “tweet, tweet, tweet.”

 

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Designer Flips Gillibrand Gaffe Into Local Fundraiser

Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., has provided some cover for colleague Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., who offended local residents by demeaning a suburban enclave that wasn’t quite to her liking, via a custom made T-shirt.

Designer Flips Gillibrand Gaffe Into Local Fundraiser

(Courtesy Mark Warner)

Gillibrand got called on the carpet after ARLnow.com founder Scott Brodbeck uncovered the less-than-flattering description she provided of Arlington, Va., in her new book, “Off The Sidelines.”

Warner wrapped his head around the conundrum and came up with a unique solution: novelty wear. He presented Gillibrand with the specially-ordered shirt and made light of the turf war on Twitter.

Whether the community at large is ready to forgive Gillibrand remains to be seen.

But T-shirt creator CustomInk is betting there’s enough civic pride floating around at the moment to turn this negative into a net positive.

The designer has launched a fundraising campaign putting copycat T-shirts up for grabs at $20 a pop. The goal is to raise approximately $1,000 (organizers are requesting an initial run of at least 50 orders), with the collected funds flowing through to the Arlington Food Assistance Center. Full story

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