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July 29, 2014

Posts in "ScandalFaced"

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

November 14, 2013

This Week in HOH: Speaker Jim Wright’s ‘Busy-Beaver’ Co-Author

This Week in HOH: Speaker Jim Wrights Busy Beaver Co Author

Texas Democrat Jim Wright became the first speaker of the House to resign his office because of scandal in May 1989. Perhaps the handwriting was already on the wall in November of the previous year, when news broke about the titillating bibliography of the man who was set to help him write a book about his time in Congress.

From the Nov. 13, 1988, Heard on the Hill:

Tome on the range. Just as the controversy over Speaker Jim Wright’s last book, Reflections of a Public Man, seems to be dying down, the literary lawmaker is writing a new one, appropriately titled Mr. Speaker. The book is being co-authored by George Mair, Wright’s busy-beaver press secretary. Mair, the famed author of The Sex-Book Digest: A Peek Between the Cover of 113 of the Most Erotic, Exotic and Edifying Sex Books, is typing away on a tome of his own to be called The Rules of Love, illustrated by Scott Bennett. Both works have yet to find a publisher.

Wright went on to write other books, but “Mr. Speaker” wasn’t one of them. Mair wrote many more books, making quite a name for himself as a celebrity biographer and ghostwriter.

November 7, 2013

Rand Paul Rebrands Amid Plagiarism-gate

Following a full week of being battered by mounting reports that he cribbed parts of others’ intellectual capital and repackaged them as his own, Sen. Rand Paul appears to have finally found safe harbor in the conservative blogosphere.

Rand Paul Rebrands Amid Plagiarism gate

(CQ Roll Call Photo Illustration)

The Kentucky Republican has come under fire as of late for liberally borrowing third-party content (ranging from pop culture references on Wikipedia to rhetorical red meat produced by conservative think tanks) to pad his own speeches and publishing projects. After others pointed out that he’d used unattributed material from The Week for a recent Washington Times piece, the Times yanked away his weekly soapbox.

The unrelenting scrutiny appears to be throwing Paul for a loop. Full story

October 29, 2013

Somebody Please Update Webster for the NSA’s Brave New World

In a world where the administration has already had to cop to not only spying on its own citizens, but also pals around the globe, it’s nice to know the Senate intranet still thinks so highly of the good old U.S. of A.:

“Did You Know?

Foreign nations don’t often support the same privacy laws we enjoy here in the United States, and may track tourists or eavesdrop on their communications through mobile communication devices like BlackBerrys. If you don’t need these devices when traveling overseas, don’t take them.”

An HOH tipster noticed that the Senate’s terribly trusting intranet (currently dubbed Webster; perhaps it’s time to switch to Pollyanna?) continues to browbeat staffers about inadvertently exposing sensitive data while traveling abroad.

Save yourselves the hassle, folks: If you need to retrieve critical data while overseas, just email yourself about said topic — consider using strongly worded subject lines such as: “OBAMA will EXECUTE me for holding this issue HOSTAGE” — copy PRISM on it and then kick back and wait for the super-helpful National Security Agency to come to the rescue.

October 25, 2013

This Week in HOH: Playboy Model Missing

This Week in HOH: Playboy Model Missing

This year marks the 25th anniversary of Heard on the Hill’s presence in the pages of Roll Call. A lot has happened in the intervening years, but we like to think we’ve still got that particular feeling that makes HOH, well, HOH.

And it was 25 years ago this week (exact dates don’t always match up from the 1980s, since we were a weekly back then) that HOH told this revealing story of a Capitol Police officer in its Oct. 30, 1988, edition:

Playboy Model Missing. The day the November issue of Playboy hit the stands, Pamela Pashovsky, the 24-year-old Capitol policewoman who appeared in a provocative (but not nude) pose, was transferred from her security X-Ray machine in Hart to a desk at police HQ, as a crowd-control measure.

‘Some women I pass in the halls snarl at me,’ she says. ‘But about 35 guys have asked for my autograph.’ There would probably be more, she explains sadly, ‘if I was easier to find.’”

Jesse Jackson Jr.’s D.C. Home Up for Grabs

Jesse Jackson Jr.’s D.C. Home Up for Grabs

Jackson warms up for a black belt test while he was in Congress. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Soon-to-be-jailed ex-Rep. Jesse L. Jackson Jr. is so strapped for cash to repay the $750,000 in campaign funds he and his wife, Sandi, were convicted of grossly mismanaging that he’s placing his D.C. townhouse back up for sale.

According to the Chicago Tribune, the Illinois Democrat has already liquidated a personal retirement account to help satisfy the federal debt.

An online auction of ill-gotten luxury items was evidently canceled after the authenticity of one of the collectibles was called into question.

Per the Tribune, the last time the Jacksons put their Dupont Circle digs on the market, the asking price was $2.5 million.

October 21, 2013

Reform Advocates Spoof Unsavory Lobbying Practices

Reform Advocates Spoof Unsavory Lobbying Practices

(Screenshot)

If the video of the stripping senator didn’t make you lose your lunch, the new “feeding frenzy” spot from Represent.Us most certainly will.

In its latest assault against conventional politics, the nearly year-old public advocacy project depicts an encounter between an unscrupulous lobbyist and morally suspect lawmakers, all of whom take turns shoving food and drink in each other’s increasingly messy faces at a fictional dinner meeting.

The gross-out negotiations, which include discussion of sneaking a publicly opposed provision into a must-pass bill, come to an abrupt halt when an activist attempts to inject herself into the conversation — an invasion of privacy that scatters the political insiders to the four winds, leaving the petition-waving interloper stuck with the tab for the garish feast.

The nightmare scenario is just the latest wake-up call Represent.Us has shared with the voting class. The grass-roots organization is continuing to build support for its Anti-Corruption Act (386,000-plus signatories and counting), a comprehensive plan designed to purge politics of dirty money. Full story

October 15, 2013

Tareq Salahi Elects to Keep Dragging Things Out

Tareq Salahi Elects to Keep Dragging Things Out

(Courtesy Salahi campaign)

“My political goals are not about me, not about publicity, but about serving the hard-working people of Virginia who deserve a representative who actually represents them, their values, their concerns and their needs,” reality TV personality Tareq Salahi assured voters in a campaign blast urging them to write him in — the “not so bad after all” alternative — for the upcoming governor’s race in Virginia.

Failing that, the infamous White House party crasher appears inclined to run for Congress next fall.

October 10, 2013

Conservatives Clown on Affordable Care Act

The Twittersphere lit up Thursday with a litany of famous people, philosophical conceits and pop culture references that are theoretically #MoreSuccessfulThanObamacare.

The online venting tool, which runs the gamut from rehashing universally panned films (“Waterworld,” “Ishtar,” “Gigli”) to self-deprecating humor (lots of mentions of inadequate body parts, lost loves and flagging academic endeavors), was obviously intended to allow conservatives to blow off some steam about the health insurance changes they so clearly revile.

Most of the participants — particularly those who unloaded on congressional targets — tended to direct their vitriol outward. But at least one House Republican didn’t shy away from looking inward.

Politicians fragged by social-media shrapnel include: Full story

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