Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
November 28, 2014

Posts in "ScandalFaced"

February 21, 2014

Ex-Rep. Mel Reynolds Ducks Zimbabwean Porn Charge

Former House lawmaker Mel Reynolds has been kicked out of Zimbabwe due to immigration issues but will not have to stand trial on since-dismissed pornography charges.

As reported by the Chicago Tribune, the trouble-prone pol — who was arrested earlier this week — pleaded guilty Feb. 21 to overstaying his welcome in the African nation and was subsequently ordered to leave the country. Full story

By Warren Rojas Posted at 3:58 p.m.
Reps, ScandalFaced, Whuck

February 18, 2014

Former Rep. Mel Reynolds Arrested in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwean authorities on Tuesday arrested former congressman and convicted felon Mel Reynolds under suspicion of possessing pornographic material and violating immigration protocol.

Reynolds’ diplomatic problems, first reported by The Associated Press, are just the latest embarrassment in a short-lived political career dominated by scandal.

The Illinois Democrat was elected in 1992 to the House and re-elected in 1994 but never completed his second term, resigning in 1995 following a conviction on sexual misconduct charges stemming from an affair with an underage campaign aide. Reynolds was found guilty of misusing campaign funds and bank fraud two years later. He spent a couple of years in prison but was pardoned in 2001 by President Bill Clinton.

Former Rep. Jesse L. Jackson Jr., who last fall was sentenced to 30 months in prison for helping himself to $750,000 in campaign funds, had replaced Reynolds after his initial fall from grace. Democratic Rep. Robin Kelly won a special election to succeed Jackson in the 2nd District in early 2013.

Reynolds unsuccessfully attempted to mount a comeback in 2004, vying to unseat Jackson, and again last year, in an attempt to succeed his successor.

“The bottom line is my past is my past,” Reynolds assured Roll Call a decade ago. “I don’t wear mistakes that I have made as a badge of shame, just as I don’t wear all of my accomplishments as a badge of confidence.”

February 14, 2014

Joel McHale to Headline White House Correspondents Dinner

Joel McHale to Headline White House Correspondents Dinner

(Ray Tamarra/Getty Images)

“Community” star and “The Soup” host Joel McHale has been charged with bringing the funny to this year’s White House Correspondents Dinner.

The annual “nerd prom” is scheduled to take place at the Washington Hilton on May 3.

“We’re thrilled that Joel will headline the dinner when we celebrate our centennial,” White House Correspondents Association president Steven Thomma trumpeted in a release. “He’s sharp, funny, and just the type of comic who can navigate the unique challenge of our dinner, making fun of Democrats, Republicans and especially the news media. Washington can use a little good-natured ribbing.” Full story

February 11, 2014

Tareq Salahi Switches to a Pets-First Footing for Congressional Bid

Aspiring lawmaker Tareq Salahi didn’t seem to get much traction out of the pro-business, anti-regulatory positions he built his failed gubernatorial bid around. For this next act, he’s going to the dogs.

Tareq Salahi Switches to a Pets First Footing for Congressional Bid

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

Salahi, who has tossed his hat into the ring to replace retiring Rep. Frank R. Wolf, R-Va., now wants to be the animal lover’s candidate of choice.

“When I am elected to Congress, I plan on introducing a bill to create a national animal abuser registry,” the former reality TV personality announced Tuesday.

The corresponding news release suggests the sudden policy shift was at least partially predicated on the impending arrival of Love Your Pet Day (Feb. 20) — though Salahi certainly appears to have strong feelings about the issue.

“Study after study shows that violent criminals often begin their downward spiral by abusing animals and eventually escalating to abusing humans,” the House hopeful charged.

How best to institute the pet project remains a work in progress.

“Once Mr. Salahi becomes Congressman, he would like to work with a nationally recognized animal welfare nonprofit, like HSUS or the ASPCA, to ask their input,” a campaign aide told HOH, referring to the Humane Society of the United States and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Team Salahi might be better off hooking up with the Animal Legal Defense Fund. Full story

February 4, 2014

Today’s Congressional Special: Grasshopper Soup

No word on whether the unsuspecting House staffer who got served an apparently insect-laden cup of soup whilst dining Tuesday in a congressional cafeteria leaped right out of his/her chair. But we’ve got to imagine the meal-time surprise did not sit well.

Today’s Congressional Special: Grasshopper Soup

(Courtesy Cloture Club)

HOH attempted to touch base with the undoubtedly shocked party, but has not yet successfully contacted the individual who fished what certainly looks to be a deceased grasshopper from the depths of a Restaurant Associates-supplied repast. It’s not even clear which eatery dished out the offensive sustenance, as some rumor mongers insist the blame belongs to cooks in the Rayburn, while others maintain that the horror show happened in Longworth’s cafeteria.

Regardless, the phenomenon quickly spilled over onto social media and congressional listserves, as fellow aides shared the gross-out pic across Twitter and the House intranet.

Restaurant Associates did not respond to email queries concerning the suspect lunch offering. The congressional caterer has run up against some interesting issues as of late, including engaging in less-than-appetizing shop talk and brazenly flouting food labeling rules.

February 3, 2014

Radel Gone, but Not Forgotten

Just because ex-Rep. Trey Radel tendered his resignation a week ago, doesn’t mean GOP leaders are ready to let him go just yet.

Radel Gone, but Not Forgotten

(CQ Roll Call photo illustration)

The embattled freshman lawmaker from Florida, who went from rising star to spectacular flame-out after being busted for possession of cocaine last fall, cast his final vote on Jan. 27.  Yet his name remains enshrined in the roster of active lawmakers on the House Republican Conference’s official website.

Sorry, GOP Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington, but your rap lyric quoting, Skymall-reviewing, Vine-making homey is outta here. And he’s not coming back this time.

January 15, 2014

Welcome Back, You Crazy Kids!

The second session of the 113th Congress is now fully under way.

And while we’re happy for the steady stream of fresh content, the truth is, it is an election year. So who knows how much time we have with the following striking personalities once the legislative wheels come careening off.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas

Welcome Back, You Crazy Kids!

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Folk hero? Conniving villain? Canadian?

 

 

We prefer to think of Cruz as the Senate’s wildest card. Full story

January 10, 2014

Trey Radel Wanders Away From the Web

Back before he got pinched for cocaine possession, Rep. Trey Radel would light up his various social media channels several times a day with snarky observations, behind-the-congressional-scenes videos and quirky selfies.

Trey Radel Wanders Away From the Web

(Courtesy Trey Radel)

These days, his mind appears to be elsewhere.

Having recently returned to Congress after a brief stint in rehab, the Florida Republican has pretty much clammed up across the board. He has not shared anything on Facebook since blasting out his combo mea culpa/back-to-work statement on Dec. 29.

And Radel’s once robust Twitter feed boasts just three posts since a Dupont Circle drug buy blew up in his face back in November. Full story

January 9, 2014

Now That’s a Traffic Jam: Bullock Needles Christie About Bridgegate

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock offered embattled New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie a sneak peek at what it would take to bring commuters to a standstill in the Treasure State.

Christie has faced intense scrutiny since news broke that several of his aides purportedly orchestrated major traffic problems for the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee, N.J., last fall in a suspected act of political retaliation.

December 31, 2013

HOH Year in Review: Ode to Semnani Edition

As die-hard HOH fans are undoubtedly aware, this institution underwent a paradigm shift earlier this year when my co-columnist and partner, Neda Semnani, took her leave in order to pursue her dream of becoming a full-fledged author.

HOH Year in Review: Ode to Semnani Edition

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The indomitable yin to my sophomoric yang, Semnani approached each looming deadline with verve and aplomb.

Armed with incisive wit, a healthy amount of skepticism and a burning desire to crawl inside the headspaces of those who make their living from supposedly exercising the will of the vox populi, Semnani fearlessly probed those in power — and their often tragicomic associates — until she got to the heart of what was really going on.

I miss her every day.

Luckily, I’ve got these gems to remind me of how lucky I was to have worked alongside a true congressional junkie. Full story

December 17, 2013

Tareq Salahi Wants What Frank Wolf’s Got

Aspiring lawmaker Tareq Salahi may not have clinched the Virginia governorship that he wanted this past fall. But he’s more than willing to slide into the seat retiring Rep. Frank R. Wolf, R-Va., has now put into play for 2014.

Tareq Salahi Wants What Frank Wolf’s Got

(Scott J. Ferrell/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The last time he visited the halls of Congress, the reality TV alumnus sat quietly while members of the House Homeland Security Committee grilled him and his now-ex-wife, Michaele Salahi, as to how, exactly, they had managed to gain entrée into one of President Barack Obama’s earliest state dinners. The next time, he’d prefer to walk through the chamber doors as a peer.

“I am well acquainted with the financial struggle and hardship many Virginians have been facing and have empathy and respect for the people who have somehow managed to tough it out in these challenging economic times,” Salahi said in a release announcing his candidacy for Virginia’s 10th District. “They need a strong voice on capitol hill.”

Salahi’s last bid at becoming a political player — the self-styled “Crash the Vote” campaign — involved him vying to become the next Republican governor of the Old Dominion. After GOP leaders named Ken Cuccinelli as their standard bearer in the politically charged race, Salahi rebranded himself as an independent and continued making the rather offbeat rounds.

“His recent gubernatorial campaign has become the launch pad for a more plausible run for congress,” Team Salahi asserted via email.

Of course, there’s still all that bad blood to deal with.

Then again, some party poopers maintain that Salahi needn’t worry too much about offending potential co-workers.

“The only way Tareq Salahi will get to Congress is by slipping past security,” a GOP campaign operative assured HOH.

December 9, 2013

Filner Receives Probation, Fine for Misconduct

Bob Filner, the California Democrat who stepped down as mayor of San Diego amid a cloud of sexual-harassment allegations, was sentenced on Monday to complete 90 days home confinement, plus three years of probation.

Filner resigned his position in late August. He pleaded guilty to a felony false imprisonment charge and two counts of misdemeanor battery in October, after being accused by multiple women of harassment and inappropriate conduct.

“Certainly the behaviors before this court today will never be repeated. And I am confident I will come out of this a better person,” Filner pledged in a pre-sentencing statement.

Filner initially attempted to defuse the media frenzy the mounting accusations sparked by enrolling in counseling, but he eventually elected to leave office. As part of the plea deal, the former 10-term congressman must wear a GPS-enabled monitoring device throughout his probation, may not run for public office until his probation is over and was fined about $1,500.

Things began going south for Filner shortly after his fiancee called off their engagement in July.

Former Hill Aide Spins Pages’ Tales Into Political Thriller

Newly minted author Michael Middlechurch uses the everyday drama of doing Congress’ bidding to propel the trio at the heart of his Hill-centric novel, “The Buddy System,” into the nightmarish side of politics.

The former House page handler told HOH he began writing his debut novel the day after the longstanding educational program was shuttered in 2011, weaving together the stories he’d so eagerly collected from participating high schoolers with a story arc developed for his own edification.

“I wanted to create a fictionalized account for why it ended,” Middlechurch explained, noting that he and many of the other instructors were left unsatisfied with the party line about budget constraints and modern conveniences rendering the program useless.

“The Buddy System,” the first book of a planned trilogy, was designed to delve into a “deeper reason that is more intriguing.” The main story line focuses on a trio of congressional pages and what they do in their off hours — “I created this apartment in Dupont Circle where they party and have a good time when they’re not in school,” Middlechurch shared — which, naturally, leads to a series of misadventures. (Paging Florida Republican Trey Radel!)

Although the novel is clearly fiction, Middlechurch said many of the characters and situations are rooted in reality. Full story

November 19, 2013

Trey Radel Facing Cocaine Charges (Updated)

Updated 5:44 p.m. | Rep. Trey Radel, R-Fla., is scheduled to be arraigned at 9 a.m. Wednesday on a misdemeanor charge of possession of a controlled substance, a court date stemming from a three-week old arrest involving cocaine.

Trey Radel Facing Cocaine Charges (Updated)

Radel, center, makes a point at a May press conference. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

In a statement, the freshman lawmaker said: “I’m profoundly sorry to let down my family, particularly my wife and son, and the people of Southwest Florida. I struggle with the disease of alcoholism, and this led to an extremely irresponsible choice. As the father of a young son and a husband to a loving wife, I need to get help so I can be a better man for both of them.

“In facing this charge, I realize the disappointment my family, friends and constituents must feel. Believe me, I am disappointed in myself, and I stand ready to face the consequences of my actions.

“However, this unfortunate event does have a positive side. It offers me an opportunity to seek treatment and counseling. I know I have a problem and will do whatever is necessary to overcome it, hopefully setting an example for others struggling with this disease.

“Please keep my family in your prayers.”

Updated 5:44 p.m.

When asked whether GOP leaders would urge Radel to resign, a spokesman for Speaker John A. Boehner told CQ Roll Call: “Members of Congress should be held to the highest standards, and the alleged crime will be handled by the courts. Beyond that, this is between Rep. Radel, his family, and his constituents.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said “I feel very sad for his family, and bad,” at a BuzzFeed Brews event on Tuesday evening. “His leadership will have to deal with him,” she added.

The arrest, first reported by Politico, happened on Oct. 29 here in the nation’s capital. Radel, who has missed votes on the House floor this week, will have to answer to D.C. Superior Court Judge Robert S. Tignor.

A quick scan of the social media-obsessed pol’s Twitter feed on the day in question didn’t point to anything being out of the ordinary:

“Had some fun last few wks,” he alerted followers, touting signature time-wasters like his real-time reviews of SkyMall catalogs.

Then again, perhaps Radel was trying to clue us in about this little habit all along.

Back in March, he told HOH that Cartagena, Colombia — the one-time seat of the Pablo Escobar-controlled Medellin Cartel — was his favorite vacation spot.

Emma Dumain contributed to this report.

November 15, 2013

‘You’ve Got Hate!’ What Not to Wear Edition

The consensus appears to be that playing fashion critic is not my strong suit.

‘You’ve Got Hate!’ What Not to Wear Edition

(Courtesy Jamison Foser)

A recent 93-word intrusion into Federal Reserve nominee Janet L. Yellen’s wardrobe has spawned pages and pages of unbridled outrage, prompting feminists, economists and all-around pragmatists to flood comment boards and social-media feeds with burning questions about this publication’s sudden interest in sartorial decision-making.

Where is the blistering assault on President Barack Obama’s strict rotation of blue or gray suits, some wondered. Why no exposés about current Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke’s penchant for Jos. A. Bank wear, prodded others. Hell, when have you ever taken note of a man’s appearance? (Oh, let’s see, just in the recent past there were musings about South Carolina Republican Rep. Mark Sanford’s shorts, North Carolina Republican Rep. Howard Coble’s blazer and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum’s sleeveless gear.)

Then, of course, there were the personal attacks.

Outraged peers and readers alike urged me to “suck a fat one” for polluting the politisphere with “Breitbart-level juvenile” “garbage” I presumably vomited onto my keyboard because I am “obviously a sexist douchebag.”

“Are you Claudia from the Babysitters Club, determined to never wear the same outfit? Do you burn your clothes the minute you take them off?” demanded one email interrogator. (No clue. Never read that series.)

“How would you like comments on your heritage or weight being relevant to your worth?” asked another. (Fair point.) Full story

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