Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 11, 2016

February 10, 2016

Office Space: Gregory Meeks’ New York Gallery

Meeks is Roll Call's guest on Office Space this week. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Meeks is Roll Call’s guest on Office Space this week. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

In this week’s edition of Office Space, Rep. Gregory W. Meeks, D-N.Y., shows off his collection of pens, Easter eggs and his affinity for desks.

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Confectioners Association Spreads Valentine’s Day Sweets

Gindlesperger delivers Valentine's Day candy in Hart. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Gindlesperger delivers Valentine’s Day candy in Hart. (By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The National Confectioners Association spent Wednesday walking around the Capitol and handing out candy to every member’s personal office.

The candy dropped off to House and Senate offices included conversation hearts made by Necco and chocolate hearts made by Dove. They also gave out information about the candy industry.

They left the treats with staff. “We don’t want to interfere with what is going on, but do want to bring a little sweetness to people’s day,” the association’s vice president of public affairs and communications Christopher Gindlesperger told HOH.

The association has gone to the Hill in the past to pass out candy, chocolate, gum and different products.

“It’s all part of our efforts to share the power of sweet,” Gindlesperger said. “It’s our way to share information and educate lawmakers on our economic impact and leadership initiatives.”

The association represents all manufacturers of chocolate and gum in the United States and some internationally. “Capitol Hill’s a partisan place at times and can be pretty tense. We’re trying to bring a little happiness to everyone’s day and lighten up the mood,” he said.

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Feingold Gets Awkward Endorsement Announcement

Feingold is running for Johnson's senate seat. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Feingold is running for Johnson’s Senate seat. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

In a not very literate way, teachers’ union announced their endorsement of former Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., who is taking on Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., in a rematch of their 2010 race.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported on the endorsement from the American Federation of Teachers’ Wisconsin chapter, which contained an awkward mistake, followed by a simple mistake. Full story

By Alex Gangitano Posted at 3:30 p.m.
2016, Oopsie

It’s ‘The Payne Report’ — Radio From Rutgers

The Payne Report launches on Feb 5. (

“The Payne Report” airs next on March 4. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Donald M. Payne Jr., D-N.J., has launched a new radio show, created to find connections between hip-hop and government, and for his first show he welcomed Congressional Black Caucus chairman G.K. Butterfield, D-N.C., and discussed a range of political issues.

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By Alex Gangitano Posted at 3:19 p.m.
DC, Reps

It’s ‘Paws for Love’ Time on Capitol Hill

Dole at the ASPCA's Fourth Annual Paws for Celebration pet adoption event in July (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Dole at the ASPCA’s Fourth Annual Paws for Celebration pet adoption event in July (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A Valentine’s Day animal adoption event on Friday will bring adorable pets in need of a home to Capitol Hill. Hosted by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus, “Paws for Love” features 11 animal rescue groups from the surrounding area.

The fourth annual “Paws for Love” will take place at 11 a.m. on Friday in Cannon 345. Longtime advocates for animal welfare issues, such as former Sen. Bob Dole, R-Kan., and his wife, former Sen. Elizabeth Dole, R-N.C., will be there. Full story

Senate Leaders Honor Longtime Gallery Director

UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 10: Ed Pesce hangs out in his Capitol office on his last day as director of the Periodical Press Gallery, February 10, 2016. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Ed Pesce hangs out in his Capitol office on his last day as director of the Periodical Press Gallery. Senate leaders from both parties honored him with remarks. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Senate leaders used opening remarks on the floor Wednesday to honor Ed Pesce, the longtime director of the Senate Periodical Press Gallery, calling him a fixture behind the office’s signature saloon doors.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., commended Pesce’s work, along with gallery staff, who act as nonpartisan liaisons coordinating communication between congressional staff and media outlets across several countries.

“Their fingerprints can be found on nearly every part of the Senate’s business,” Reid said.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., got a little more personal – calling Pesce out for his constant exercise and dedication to certain films.

“You might see Ed queuing for the premier of a ‘Star Wars’ sequel, maybe even a prequel,” McConnell said.

McConnell called Pesce a fixture in the chamber with coworkers recalling “his infectious laughter and dedication to team building.”

Pesce, joined by his colleagues and reporters, sat in the gallery of the chamber as the leaders made their remarks.

“Fiction is one of his favorite genres,” McConnell said, at times looking up at Pesce. “History is the other. He certainly witnessed plenty of it firsthand.”

Pesce said McConnell was right to point to his relentless exercise – and said he was humbled and honored leaders took the time to express such personal appreciation for staff on the Senate floor.

Pesce, whose last day was also Wednesday, started working on Capitol Hill shortly after he graduated college in 1990. He became deputy director of the Senate Periodical Press Gallery in 1996. In December, Pesce announced he would retire from the position he has held since 2000.

He didn’t give details on his future employment plans but said it will probably be in communications or writing. In the meantime, he’s been traveling and enjoying time off. He recently enjoyed a rarity for anyone working in government and the press – having days off on both Christmas and New Year’s.

Reflecting on his 25 years working on Capitol Hill – including 11 sergeant-at-arms and a 50-50 split in Senate leadership – Pesce said his work has not always been easy, but that it was professionally rewarding to be a go-to person who worked with every staffer and reporter, no matter their allegiances.

“That’s a unique aspect,” Pesce said.

Contact Rahman at remarahman@cqrollcall.com or follow her on Twitter at @remawriter

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Burr’s ‘Thing’ Needs Repairs

Burr drives the Thing in 2011. (Photo By Tom Williams/Roll Call File Photo)

Burr drives the Thing all over Washington. (Tom Williams/Roll Call File Photo)

Senator Richard Burr’s, R-N.C., beloved Volkswagen Thing faced some problems on Wednesday, with the North Carolina Republican tweeting a photo of three men pushing his car on the side of a road. Full story

Take Five: Rep. Mike Coffman

COPOL14_017_082914

Back home, Coffman tours the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

It’s time again for Take Five, when HOH talks with a member of Congress about topics relatively unrelated to legislative work.

This week, Rep. Mike Coffman, R–Colo., talks about the Super Bowl 50 champion Denver Broncos, skiing in central Europe and Rocky Mountain oysters.

Q: Who is your favorite player on the Denver Broncos?

A: Peyton Manning. A couple years ago, I met him and I think that I was just so impressed with him, how humble he was. I think he’s a good person, a great role model. It was at a fundraising breakfast for Boy Scouts of America, he was the keynote speaker. That’s where I had the opportunity to meet him. I don’t think he will play another season with this last game being the Super Bowl. In Colorado, [former Broncos quarterback] John Elway had two Super Bowl wins in 1997 and 1998. I think back to back is really hard to do, particularly in the way the NFL does the draft, they try and equalize things. Given the fact that Manning’s 39 years old, I think he’d be wise to retire. Talk about stepping out on such a high note.

Q: Where and with whom did you watch the Super Bowl on Sunday?

A: With family, back in Colorado.

Q: If you could be any profession other than a politician, what would you be?

A: I love my past two professions before I came here. I was in the Marine Corps, but I think I’m too old for that. And I was a small business owner. I love that, being an entrepreneur. If I could go back, I think I would go back to either one of those. I had a property management business that I started from scratch in 1983 and I sold it in 2000.

Q: Do you ski, and if so, when did you learn?

A: Even though I lived in Colorado growing up, I really didn’t get into skiing actually until I was in the United States Army. I joined the Army when I was 17 years old and I think when I was about 18 I was on the border of [the former] Czechoslovakia. And, we drew names out of a helmet to go away there for a week and I drew the winning number. And I got to learn how to do recreational skiing there. When I came back home and went to the University of Colorado, I got into skiing pretty heavily. I now like skiing in Vail.

Q: What is your favorite local Colorado food?

A: Rocky Mountain oysters, usually at a bar. It’s something we do back home; it’s kind of hard to explain. [Editor’s note: Rocky Mountain oysters are fried bull, pig or sheep testicles.]

Contact Gangitano at AlexGangitano@cqrollcall.com and follow her on Twitter at @AlexGangitano

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‘Homeland’ Producer Brings Animal Training Message to Hill

grijalva

Grijalva will join PETA and Raff at the briefing. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Emmy award-winning executive producer of Showtime’s spy drama “Homeland,” Gideon Raff, wants to ban animals from taking part in military training, and he’s bringing his message to Capitol Hill, along with congressional allies and the animal rights group PETA.

On Wednesday, Raff will moderate PETA’s congressional briefing, “Saving Soldiers by Sparing Animals,” along with hosts Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva, D-Ariz., and Ted Lieu, D-Calif.

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February 9, 2016

Scalise Brings Navy SEAL O’Neill to Whip Meeting

 

Scalise invited O'Neill to his meeting Tuesday. (Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Ryan Zinke, a former Navy officer, connected Scalise, above, with O’Neill. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Former Navy SEAL Rob O’Neill, who claims to have fired the shots that killed Osama bin Laden, was House Majority Whip Steve Scalise’s special guest to his Whip Team meeting Tuesday.

The Whip Team meeting is a regular weekly meeting attended on fly-in nights by members to discuss the week’s legislative business and hear from those with legislation on the floor.

Rep. Ryan Zinke, R-Mont., also a former Navy officer, connected O’Neill with Scalise, R-La., according to the Whip’s office. Zinke served in the Navy from 1985 to 2008.

O’Neill, a Montana native, was a sniper before leaving the Navy in 2012. In 2014, he claimed he fired the head shots that killed bin Laden, the al-Qaeda leader, during a raid in 2011.

In October, a British Islamic State supporter published O’Neill’s name and address and called on members in the U.S. to target him, the Mirror reported.

Past special guests to Whip Team meetings have been Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and former Vice President Dick Cheney.

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Shkreli’s Lawyer: Congress Tried to Humiliate Him

Shkreli (left) stands with Brafman (right) at the House Oversight and Government Reform hearing. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Shkreli (left) stands with Brafman (right) at last week’s House Oversight and Government Reform hearing. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Benjamin Brafman, the criminal defense attorney for former pharmaceutical executive Martin Shkreli, is claiming the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s reason for compelling his client to testify last week was to humiliate him.

Brafman gave the committee advance knowledge that if Shkreli appeared before them, he would invoke the Fifth Amendment, he wrote in the New York Law Journal on Wednesday.

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A Post-Boehner Era Ash Wednesday

boehner pope

Boehner spoke about Ash Wednesday in his first speech after taking the speaker’s gavel in 2011. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

In former Speaker John A. Boehner’s first speech after taking the gavel in January 2011, he referred to Ash Wednesday in an attempt to humble Congress.

“In the Catholic faith, we enter into a season of service by having ashes marked on our foreheads,” the Ohio Republican said. “The ashes remind us that life in all its forms is fragile — our time on this Earth, fleeting. As the ashes are delivered, we hear those humbling words: ‘Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return.’” Full story

Bernie Sanders Supporters Go for ‘Revolutionary’ Food

Sanders speaks at a Get Out the Vote rally in Manchester, New Hampshire. (Meredith Dake-O'Connor/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sanders speaks at a Get Out the Vote rally in Manchester, N.H. (Meredith Dake-O’Connor/CQ Roll Call)

D.C. residents supporting Sen. Bernard Sanders, I-Vt., in the New Hampshire Caucus will meet Tuesday night at Marx Café Revolutionary Cuisine, appropriate enough for a campaign that bills itself as a political revolution. Full story

Food Network Star Keeps Bumping Into Politics in Eat Tour of D.C.

Ducote (middle) McCoy (right) on Food Network Star, Season 11. (Photo courtesy of Food Network)

Ducote (middle) and McCoy (right) on Food Network Star. (Photo courtesy of Food Network)

With Mardi Gras quickly approaching, celebrity chef Jay Ducote, the self-proclaimed “food ambassador for South Louisiana,” spent a week eating his way through Washington and shared his thoughts on how hard it is to get away from politics in D.C., even when you try.

His main event was dinner at Acadiana on Feb. 2, which he hosted with the National Beer Wholesalers Association. He led the 20-person event through a Louisiana-themed beer-pairing dinner. “For the record, I feel like Acadiana did a remarkable job with the food,” he said. “Several of those dishes could have served at any restaurant in Louisiana without anyone blinking and eye.” Full story

The First Congress, and the First Earmark?

UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 1: Capitol visitors walk across the East Plaza of the Capitol on Monday, Feb. 1, 2016. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Could the Capitol have gone to Trenton, N.J.? (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Was Washington, D.C., the first great earmark?

The Capitol building might not be sitting as the center of a city built along the Potomac and Anacostia rivers if a senator didn’t stand to make a nice profit.

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