Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 14, 2016

Posts in "Staffers"

February 10, 2016

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 or follow her on Twitter at @remawriter

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February 4, 2016

Prepare for a Healthy Super Bowl Sunday

Sodexo's Fimbres will be at the event Friday. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sodexo’s Fimbres will be at the event Friday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Congressional Vegetarian Staff Association is providing no-meat Super Bowl snacks in the Capitol on Friday.

The Veggie Touchdown is the group’s 2016 kickoff event, which was rescheduled due to the blizzard. No RSVP is required and the event starts at noon in the Capitol Visitor Center, Room 268.

Full story

February 3, 2016

Staffer Turned Entrepreneur to Make Shark Tank Début

Blount, left, and Rodgers, right, will appear on ABC on Friday night. (Photo courtesy of ABC)

Long time House staffer Willie Blount will make his television debut on Friday on the ABC show, Shark Tank, where he’ll pitch a pair of gloves he’s invented to a panel of investors.

Blount is the director of information systems for the House Legislative Counsel and has worked on Capitol Hill for 16 years. Aside from his job, his veteran, inventor and motorcycle rider background got him on the show.

“I wanted to control music while I rode my motorcycle, so I decided it needed to be done with your hands,” Blount told HOH.

The idea came to him in 2009, in 2011 he pitched it to his cousin, Tarik Rodgers, and in 2012, the company launched. Rodgers was personally interested in investing because he is a skier and is now the chief operating officer.

The invention, BearTek Gloves, function as a remote control, which is used by touching your thumb to one of six points, two on each finger. The entity is a technology company that licenses through manufacturers so they can integrate it into their brands.

Shark Tank 2

Blount’s invention. (Photo courtesy of ABC)

Blount, 41, served in the Marine Corps as an aviation radar technician for six years before working on the Hill.

“Balancing is very hard,” he said. “Something’s got to give when you’ve got a family, a job and a business. So what goes? Sleep.” He is the father of a 14-year-old boy and 5-year-old girl.

Blount was invited to the veteran’s episode of Shark Tank. About 40,000 companies apply to be on Shark Tank and only 130 get interviewed; Blount got the call to be interviewed on the show in September, but was scheduled to fly to Los Angeles at the same time as his sister’s wedding. ABC allowed him to come  the morning after the wedding, but he could tell only his wife where he was going.

ABC makes it very clear that just because your interview was filmed, doesn’t mean your segment will air. The station also stresses that even if none of the shark “investors” picks you, your interview can still air. Blount got a call that his interview would air a week and a half ago.

Don’t ask how he did. Blount has not even told his wife.

Tune into ABC at 9 p.m. on Friday. BearTek Gloves’ segment is 10 minutes long and 14 minutes into the episode. The company is having a viewing party on Friday at the Columbia, Md., Buffalo Wild Wings, and all are welcome.

Contact Gangitano at and follow her on Twitter @alexgangitano.

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By Alex Gangitano Posted at 4 p.m.

January 11, 2016

Staffer by Day, Dailey Method Studio Owner by Night

The House Energy and Commerce Committee has its very own workoutaholic. Tim Torres has been the committee’s deputy IT director for five years. Last month, he launched a barre and cycle studio, the latest outlet for The Dailey Method, on U and 12th streets NW.



On a typical day, Torres arrives at the studio around 5 a.m. and leaves for Capitol Hill at 8:30 a.m. At about 6 p.m., he goes back to the studio. “I’m still getting the hang of trying to find time to sleep,” he told HOH. Full story

December 2, 2015

Where the Drinkers Are in Congress

Just how many drinks are staffers imbibing at work events? CQ Roll Call set to find out. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Just how many drinks are staffers imbibing at work events? (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The congressional drinking culture is alive and well, helped along by the demands of the job.

According to a survey of congressional staff, nearly half, or 47 percent, of staffers attend social events for work either once or twice a week. Those events are predominantly serving alcoholic beverages. Perhaps that helped lead to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that shows the District of Columbia with a slightly higher percentage of adult binge drinkers (22 percent) as compared to the national average of 16 percent. Full story

By Rebecca Gale Posted at 5 a.m.

November 17, 2015

‘Stabbing in the Senate’ Focuses on Hill Staffers

'Stabbing in the Senate' is a murder-mystery focused on Capitol Hill. (Bridget Bowman/CQ Roll Call)

‘Stabbing in the Senate’ is a murder-mystery focused on Capitol Hill. (Bridget Bowman/CQ Roll Call)

Capturing the real-life drama of Capitol Hill in fiction can be a daunting task, but Colleen Shogan had an advantage: She’s been there, done that.

Shogan, 40, now the deputy director of the Congressional Research Service, used her time as a Senate staffer as the basis of her debut mystery novel, “Stabbing in the Senate,” the first installment in her Washington Whodunit series. Full story

November 16, 2015

Mobster-Turned-Minister Addresses Hill Staff

Michael Franzese is not your typical minister.

Around 30 years ago, he was listed among the most powerful mafia bosses, part of the notorious New York Columbo family. But after finding God while serving time in prison, he reformed. And on Nov. 13, he found himself talking about faith and redemption with Capitol Hill staff. Full story

November 5, 2015

Hill Community Remembers George Burke

Staffers honored George Burke Thursday. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

Staffers honored George Burke Thursday. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Gerald E. Connolly, D-Va., joined nearly 100 staffers and a few journalists outside the Rayburn House Office Building Thursday to honor Connolly’s late communications director, George Burke.

Burke, who had had known Connolly for 30 years and whom the lawmaker regarded as a close friend, passed away on Oct. 30 at the age of 64 after battling cancer. “He leaves a big hole in our operation and our family,” Connolly told the group gathered in the Rayburn horseshoe entrance on the warm afternoon. Full story

Spicing Up Career Move Messages, Hill Staffer-Style

Huffman raided Huffman for his new legislative director. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Huffman raided Huffman for his new legislative director. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

With constant turnover and promotions on Capitol Hill, getting the formulaic career move email can be, well, boring.

But one Hill staffer chose to take a different approach to the “FYI, I have a new job” notice by framing his promotion as a new position.

“It’s with a heavy heart that I let you know that this Friday will be my last day as Senior Legislative Assistant for Congressman Jared Huffman (CA-02),” Logan Ferree wrote in an email a tipster sent to HOH. “On Monday, October 9th I will start as the Legislative Director for Congressman Jared Huffman (CA-02).”

“This new job will bring with it a host of challenges,” Ferree continued, “but I believe my experiences in the Huffman office prepare me well for working in the Huffman office.” Full story

November 3, 2015

March for Life Previews 2016 Theme for Hill Staffers

UNITED STATES - JANUARY 22: The March for Life passes by the Russell Senate Office Building and heads past the Supreme Court on Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015, the anniversary of the Roe v Wade abortion decision. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

March for Life organizers are reaching out to staffers on Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Two months before their annual rally against the Roe v. Wade ruling, organizers of the March for Life will lift the curtain on their 2016 theme, “Pro-Life and Pro-Woman Go Hand in Hand,” at a Capitol briefing.

Geared toward Hill staffers who oppose abortion from either side of the aisle, Wednesday’s lunchtime event will encourage attendees “to be bolder on the issue of life,” said Tom McClusky, vice president of government affairs for the March for Life Education and Defense Fund. Full story

November 2, 2015

George Burke Death Stuns Connolly, Va. Democrats

UNITED STATES - NOV 2 : Gerry Connolly, D-VA.,talks to the media after voteing at the Kena Temple in Fairfax Virginia. .( Photo By Douglas Graham/Roll Call via Getty Images)

Connolly knew Burke for more than three decades. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Congressional spokesman George A. Burke died on Oct. 30 after battling cancer, a departure that left his boss, Rep. Gerald E. Connolly nearly at a loss for words.

“For more than 30 years I have been fortunate to call George my close friend. We will all miss his stories, his unwavering optimistic approach to life, and his love for his friends and family,” the Virginia Democrat said in a statement. “His loss will leave a great void in all our lives and I will miss him dearly.” Full story

By Warren Rojas Posted at 3:26 p.m.
Reps, Staffers

October 8, 2015

End. Multitasking. Now.

Eating at one’s desk is bad enough.


(Screenshot from Cloakroom)

House staffers clearly need to clean up their act. Full story

October 2, 2015

The NRCC Benghazi Fundraising Web Page That Wasn’t

The NRCC wanted donors to be "Benghazi watchdogs" over Hillary Rodham Clinton (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The NRCC wanted donors to be “Benghazi watchdogs” over Clinton. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Don’t remember the National Republican Congressional Committee’s brief foray last year into raising money off the House Select Committee on Benghazi?

Neither did the NRCC apparently — until Thursday. Full story

Members of Congress, Staff Tee Off to Remember Chip Kennett

Kennett with his wife, Sheila, in Nov. 2014. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Kennett and wife Sheila in November. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Members of Congress, current and former staffers are among the honorary host and tournament committees of The Chip Kennett Memorial Golf Tournament, scheduled for Oct. 26 at the Westfields Golf Club in Clifton, Va.

Kennett was a former Capitol Hill staffer who received a stage IV lung cancer diagnosis in 2012 at the age of 31. He became an advocate for more cancer research funding and increased access to clinical trial medications, even testifying to Congress about his personal experience. He died on Jan. 17, at the age of 34.

Advocates within the cancer community credit his fight with helping spur congressional action. Full story

September 29, 2015

Aspiring Filmmaker Screws Around With Congress

It took some doing. But Brett Lewis is just about finished with his ode to everything that’s wrong with #ThisTown, the ribald “C Street.”

Party animals let it all hang out in the trailer for "C Street." (Screenshot)

Party animals let it all hang out in the trailer for “C Street.” (Screenshot)

“Some things happened along the way, but I persevered,” Lewis, who lost his mother to cancer last spring, said of the unexpected twist and turns he’s had to navigate to translate the vision in his head on to the big screen.

He originally intended to share his version of “pols gone wild” with the world ahead of the 2012 elections, but had to delay that self-imposed deadline as the money hunt — he attempted to raise $50,000 in 2012, but came up short — and personal issues continued cropping up.

All that’s changed. Full story

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