Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
April 21, 2014

Posts in "Staffers"

April 8, 2014

Hill Staffers Swarm Taco Bell Tray, Terrify Server

Ustedes quieren Taco Bell!

Pity the poor Taco Bell employee who was tasked with delivering a tray of tacos to a gaggle of Hill staffers at a Tuesday reception in the Rayburn House Office Building.

“This reception shows no shame as staff fills up boxes and garbage bags of burritos,” our daring congressional staffer/tipster tell us. See for yourself:

A Crash Course in Congressional Hanky-Panky

An offbeat observation by someone who sounded none-too-surprised to learn that Louisiana Republican Rep. Vance McAllister had been busted getting busy with a congressional aide got us thinking about whom, exactly, Capitol Hill playboys spend their time seducing.

“It’s always the schedulers,” an HOH reader opined online after perusing the tawdry tale of McAllister’s videotaped make-out session with district aide — and Facebook friend (social media has doomed us all) — Melissa Hixon Peacock.

A Crash Course in Congressional Hanky Panky

(Screenshot)

The Ouachita Citizen exposed the interoffice dalliance (both McAllister and Peacock are married to other people) with the help of a grainy surveillance video purportedly leaked to the local paper by another McAllister aide.

While Peacock clearly fit our conspiracy theorists’ bill in this particular case, HOH decided to examine the past 20 years of congressional sexcapades to discern whether libidinous lawmakers do, in fact, have a clear cut “type.”

Ex-Rep. Gary Condit, D-Calif.

A Crash Course in Congressional Hanky Panky

(CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Object of his affection: the late Chandra Levy, his intern. Full story

April 4, 2014

Ex-Hill Aide Taps Different Constituencies for PR

Gary Meltz, a one-time aide to Rep. Eliot L. Engel, D-N.Y., who has since carved out a niche for himself in the crisis management game, is inviting friends and colleagues to come celebrate the birth of Meltz Communications.

The fledgling communications firm officially threw open its doors in late January. But Meltz suggested that the myriad demands of actually setting up shop have made it nearly impossible to stop and enjoy a single minute of the momentous life change.

Ex Hill Aide Taps Different Constituencies for PR

(Courtesy Meltz Communications)

He hopes to rectify all that by indulging friends with a few drinks, some gourmet treats and signature matchbooks (‘natch) at an invite-only reception scheduled to take place April 8 from 6-8 p.m. at the Science Club (1136 19th St. NW). Full story

April 3, 2014

Pols Party Down at GRAMMYs on the Hill

Performers from across the musical spectrum helped star-stuck lawmakers get loose Wednesday night, as the annual GRAMMYs on the Hill awards once again blew the socks off of straight-laced Washington.

Pols Party Down at GRAMMYs on the Hill

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

The invite-only affair gave politicos the opportunity to mingle with chart-topping artists from every decade dating back to the 1960s, a who’s who of vocal talent that included singer Dionne Warwick, Tejano band Los Lonely Boys, the Hanson Brothers and Grammy winners Lady Antebellum. The musicians, in turn, tipped their hats to those on Capitol Hill who’ve proved to be real good listeners, handing out awards to House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

Pols Party Down at GRAMMYs on the Hill

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

“There’s very few places in this country that they would actually honor members of Congress,” the California Republican quipped while on stage with songwriter Booker T. Jones and Lumineers frontman Wesley Schultz. Full story

April 1, 2014

Pols Chime In on Capitol Bells

A former House staffer turned civic-engagement evangelist, Ted Henderson has amplified his efforts to connect Congress with constituents by introducing a new way to stake out personal positions: virtual “motions.”

The former aide to ome-time Michigan Democratic Rep. Dale E. Kildee told HOH that a fair amount of Hill types — 9,500 total users, including 6,800 House vote alert subscribers  (versus the 250 currently seeking Senate vote updates) — have taken notice of his fledgling tool.

Henderson estimates that roughly 200 to 250 House members and their staffers are utilizing the smartphone app (and companion website) to keep tabs on the issues folks from their home districts are rallying for/against online.

Lawmakers have begun taking their own stands by utilizing the app’s nascent motion-writing feature.

Pols Chime In on Capitol Bells

(Screenshot)

Instead of simply voting a certain issue up or down, the “motion” function gives CB users the opportunity to post a brief statement (up to 200 characters) that can then be shared on other social media platforms.

Per Henderson, the abbreviated stump speeches should help politicians cut through the legislative noise by injecting easily digestible appeals into the conversation.

“Here’s who I am. Here’s what I’m working on … and it’s all translated into regular English,” he said.

Some early adopters have already hopped on their virtual soapboxes, Henderson said, including Pennsylvania Democratic Rep. Matt Cartwright (the first to pen a “motion”) and Colorado Democratic Rep. Jared Polis (“a huge supporter”).

Moving forward, Henderson hopes to maximize CB’s vote matching capabilities — it currently only compares users’ positions to members from their home-state delegation — by opening up the cross-referencing to presidential and congressional candidates.

And he’s determined to draw even more lawmakers into the feedback loop.

“I want people to use it anytime they’re talking about a bill online … [because] it’s adding that gateway to constituent engagement,” Henderson asserted.

He plans to continue making his case to the online masses next week via Reddit’s “Ask Me Anything” forum  (perhaps as early as April 7).

March 26, 2014

Hill Staff Invited to Kick It at Capital Soccer Classic

Congressional aides used to scoring points in the office can take a shot at proving themselves on the pitch in a few short weeks during the nascent staffer tournament woven into the program for the 2nd Annual Capital Classic.

The multifaceted fundraiser, co-hosted by the U.S. Soccer Foundation and Politico, is scheduled to take place from 5-10 p.m. April 8 at RFK Stadium (2400 East Capitol St. SE). The charity event benefits Soccer for Success, a futbol-intensive after-school program.

Last year, various members of the Congressional Soccer Caucus faced off in a friendly match with fleet-footed colleagues and professional soccer players. A 6-6 tie at the end of regulation play prompted a sudden-death shoot out, which turned into a narrow victory for House Democrats. Full story

March 24, 2014

Vegetarian Lobby Plants Bug in Michelle Obama’s Ear

The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine and Congressional Vegetarian Staff Association have recruited a number of professional athletes to discuss the benefits of adhering to a plant-based lifestyle at an April 1 luncheon.

But the diet-conscious crusaders really want first lady and “Let’s Move!” founder Michelle Obama to throw her weight behind their mission.

“As you know, obesity-related diseases, such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and stroke, account for 70 percent of all deaths in the United States. The good news is that if every American adds two servings of fruits and vegetables to his or her diet, his or her risk for all-cause mortality will automatically decrease by 10 percent. If we move toward an entirely plant-based diet, we can cut the risk of heart disease—the biggest killer in America—in half,” PCRM Founder and President Dr. Neal Barnard alerted FLOTUS in a March 24 letter inviting her to the “Teaming Up 4 Health” preview party scheduled to take place April 1 from 1:30-2:30 p.m. in room 201 on the House side of the Capitol Visitor Center.

Barnard also invited Education Secretary Arne Duncan and acting Surgeon General Boris Lushniak to the healthy eating event.

The luncheon, which will feature complimentary garden vegetable wraps supplied by Whole Foods, gourmet salads (carrot and beet, spring mix medley) and vegan baked goods from Banana Love Mufffins, is open to everyone, though organizers are hoping to cap attendance at 150.

Those interested in participating are encouraged to RSVP to: jberger@pcrm.org.

As part of the program, Barnard will lead a discussion with U.S. Olympic swimmer Kate Ziegler, triathlete and ultra-marathoner Brendan Brazier, taekwondo world champion Daba Modibo Keita and CBS radio host Chuck Carroll.

Vegetarian Lobby Plants Bug in Michelle Obamas Ear

(Courtesy Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine)

The group will also preview the “Teaming up 4 Health” campaign scheduled to go live April 8 — a multimedia effort set to include video testimonials, collectible trading cards and quickie recipes. Full story

March 12, 2014

Tim Walz Cooks Up Second Consecutive Minnesota Hotdish Win

For four years, one title has eluded Michele Bachmann, and it’s not “president.”

Tim Walz Cooks Up Second Consecutive Minnesota Hotdish Win

(Meredith Shiner/CQ Roll Call)

The Minnesota congresswoman and one-time Republican presidential hopeful just wanted to win Sen. Al Franken’s annual hotdish off Wednesday before leaving Congress.

Grandma Phoebe’s Sunday Supper:

Tim Walz Cooks Up Second Consecutive Minnesota Hotdish Win

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

Unfortunately, just as Mitt Romney kept her from the top of the national ticket, two-time hotdish champion Tim Walz, D-Minn., vanquished Bachmann from the win she so desperately coveted.

Turkey Trot Tater Tot Hotdish:

Tim Walz Cooks Up Second Consecutive Minnesota Hotdish Win

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

To the victor, goes the Pyrex with a special plaque. Full story

Flacks Invited to Bipartisanly Commune at Tortilla Coast

Professional mouthpieces from both sides of the aisle are priming the pumps for recess via a “Bi-Party-San Communications Mixer.”

Flacks Invited to Bipartisanly Commune at Tortilla Coast

(Courtesy DCNet)

The media-related happy hour is scheduled to take place Thursday at Tortilla Coast (400 First St. SE) from 6 to 8 p.m. (That won’t crimp your style, will it, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas?)

The event, which is being sponsored by iConstituent and Broadnet, is designed to welcome new and returning members of the Democratic Communicators Network and Republican Communications Association.

According to DCNet board chair Hannah Kim, first-timers joining the respective advisory panels include:

  • Kezmiché “Kim” Atterbury, communications director for Rep. G. K. Butterfield, D-N.C.
  • Brett Morrow, communications director for Rep. Mark Takano, D-Calif.
  • Alex Nguyen, communications director for Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wis.
  • Rob Runyan, press secretary for Sen. Thomas R. Carper, D-Del.
  • Michael Marinaccio, digital coordinator for the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee
  • Ben Miller, communications director for Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis.
  • Michael Rekola, deputy press secretary for Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif.
  • Trevor Foughty, deputy chief of staff and communications director for Rep. Todd Young, R-Ind.

Those who swing by to congratulate the ascending messengers will be privy to two free drink tickets apiece and complimentary Tex-Mex-style appetizers.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story inadvertently listed the positions panelists hold within their respective networking groups instead of their posts on Capitol Hill.

BLT Steak Baits Hill Staffers With Recess Bites

BLT Steak plans to reward those who stick around town next week with a specially designed “recess menu” featuring nearly a dozen gourmet snacks.

The power lunching haven’s (1625 I St. NW) “10 Till 10” promotion will be available March 17 through March 21, 5-10 p.m. each evening at the main bar.

A restaurant spokeswoman said Executive Chef Jeremy Shelton experimented with the concept in February and has since decided to roll out seasonally inspired nibbles each time lawmakers are scheduled to high-tail it home.

Featured items ($10 each) for this month include:

  • Sweet & Sour Sweetbreads
BLT Steak Baits Hill Staffers With Recess Bites

(Courtesy BLT Steak)

  • House-cured American Wagyu bresaola with toasted brioche bun and frisee
  • Artisanal cheese plate
  • Creamy polenta with spring pea ragout
  • Bacalao croquets paired with spicy tomato aioli
  • Yellowtail crudo accompanied by white balsamic, avocado and fennel
  • Bone marrow spring roll with  gorgonzola fonduta and candied walnuts
  • Head cheese escorted by violet mostarda and soft-boiled egg
BLT Steak Baits Hill Staffers With Recess Bites

(Courtesy BLT Steak)

  • A “Corned Beef & Cabbage” creation forged from corned beef sausage, pickled baby Brussels sprouts and Dijon cream
  • Grilled baby octopus tied together by feta, olives and oregano

Shelton said he is particularly fond of the corned beef  (“It’s very fitting for St. Patrick’s Day,” he opined) and multi-layered polenta (“Works very well with the fresh flavors of English peas and chanterelles with parsley and mint,” he said), but really hopes folks give the head cheese a whirl.

“Maybe it’s a chef thing, but we all love it. I just haven’t been able to get it to catch on with the clientele,” Shelton said of the offal challenge.

No word on what he’s got in mind for April. But if history is any guide — during February’s soft launch he dished out beef tartar with house-made fries, Parmesan-crusted bone marrow with green tomato mostarda, polenta with pork ragu, escargot with garlic cream, roasted vegetables accompanied by date butter, sheep’s milk ricotta and hazelnuts, lobster fritters with lemon aioli, grilled sweetbreads married to marinated mushrooms, and local oysters — those left behind in the future might eat better than their district-bound counterparts.

March 11, 2014

Barack Obama’s Turn on ‘Between Two Ferns’

With the March 31 deadline looming to shepherd as many of the uninsured as possible underneath the umbrella of the Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama has turned to Hollywood for a little help, appearing on Funny or Die’s parody talker, “Between Two Ferns.”

During the deliberately screwy program, host Zach Galifianakis typically walks guests through a minefield of insane questions and uncomfortable pauses.

POTUS fared better than most, firing back at Galifianakis with scripted comebacks skewering the comedian’s film career and personal hygiene. Joke writers apparently had plenty of time to prepare; The New York Times reported that Team BTF approached the White House about arranging the surreal sit-down last summer.

The preparation was wasted on Republicans, who were, understandably, not terribly amused.

Rep. Randy Weber of Texas couldn’t help but challenge the president’s priorities. (Benghazi’s still at the top of his list.)

 

 

Full story

Restaurant Associates Recruits Raw Foodie for Lunch Demo

Postmodern Foods Founder and CEO Denise Hicks will prepare eco-friendly dishes and drinks in the Longworth cafeteria Wednesday as part of a special arrangement worked out with the Congressional Vegetarian Staff Association.

 

 

The green living demo is scheduled to take place from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. According to Restaurant Associates spokeswoman Gina Zimmer, Hicks is expected to share tastes of her Raw Greens Juice, forged from celery, cucumber, apples, kale, spinach, parsley and lemon (among other things),  Cinnamon’y Cashew Milk and Massaged Kale Salad, featuring the titular greens, onion, assorted seeds (pumpkin, fennel), apple cider vinegar and olive oil.

“The guest chef thing was something we and Restaurant Associates agreed would be a good way to offer different food options,” CVSA staffer Adam Sarvana said of the pro-plant-based eating pop-up. “They deserve all the credit for choosing Denise to do it.”

Hicks is expected back on the Hill on March 28; that’s when she’ll join Miss DC 2013 Bindhu Pamarthi as co-headliner at the next CVSA event.

By Warren Rojas Posted at 5:01 a.m.
Food, HillSide, Staffers

March 10, 2014

Aaron Schock’s New Spox Is Ready to Rock

Benjamin Cole, a former pitchman for energy policy advocacy groups, has landed on Capitol Hill and is already burning up the communication circuits.

The newly minted spokesman for Illinois Republican Aaron Schock spent the past several years serving as the communications director for the American Energy Alliance, which is the mouthpiece for the think tank-y Institute for Energy Research.

Trouble is, Cole used the emails he had harvested at AEA to help introduce himself around Congress — which means his missive turned up in the inboxes of many unsuspecting (and thoroughly uninterested) Democratic press shops.

Aaron Schock’s New Spox Is Ready to Rock

(Screenshot)

Along with sharing his title and contact info, Cole assured everyone the he had “hit the ground running,” quickly working in a plug for the Schock sponsored, anti-Affordable Care Act bill poised for a floor vote this week. “I did not send to every Cap Hill Office. Only to a pre-existing contacts list that I have maintained, somewhat effectively, through the years,” Cole told HOH of the note he fired off.

Our tipster dubbed the self-congratulatory blast “embarrassing.”

“This guy was a flack for the dubiously named Institute for Energy Research … who used to blast all of our email boxes with similarly breathless triumphs,” the House staffer suggested.

Although initially annoyed, the Democratic operative quickly reconsidered and left the door open to getting fed more intel from uber-chatty counterparts on the other side of the aisle. “If House Rs want to add House Ds onto their staff listserves, it might help everyone make better sense of their rudderless leadership here,” our source quipped.

March 7, 2014

Democrats Roast Ann Richards’ Granddaughter, Set Political Bar High

Democratic operatives all over town had a ball Friday afternoon ribbing their colleague, Democratic National Committee spokeswoman Lily Adams, after the 27-year-old was declared the future of the Texas Democratic Party on cable news.

It all started Friday morning, when MSNBC’s “The Daily Rundown” featured a segment on political up-and-comers in the Lone Star State.

Dallas Morning News reporter Wayne Slater prognosticated that Adams will likely be a future occupant of the Texas governor’s mansion, her late grandmother Ann Richards’ former crib.

“This is the one that’s just going to cause waves today,” Slater foreshadowed. “She is extraordinary. She is bright.”

Full story

Congress Reveres Guest Prayer Leaders

Maintaining that whole separation of church and state split is a tightrope act on any given day of the year.

Congress Reveres Guest Prayer Leaders

(Courtesy Scott Peters)

Church has, as of late, taken the lead on Capitol Hill thanks to the contributions of high-profile, and intimately connected, spiritual leaders.

Last week, Rep. Scott Peters experienced the rare privilege of having his father, retired pastor and civil rights activist Harvey Peters, usher in the legislative day with a prayer.

“Few members of Congress get the chance to see a parent speak in the House chamber, and I am truly thankful that I was able to share this moment with him, and with my Mom, RuthAnn, who watched from the gallery,” the California Democrat shared on the House floor. “His work instilled in me and my three sisters the values of courage and equality that I’ve tried to bring to my own service.”

An aide to the Rev. Patrick J. Conroy, the chaplain of the House of Representatives, told HOH that the chaplain’s office has limited data regarding immediate family members who have presided over the morning prayer, but confirmed that Peters is in a fairly exclusive group.

Rep. Bruce Braley is in the club.

The Iowa Democrat got to see his brother, Rev. Brad Braley, prepare Congress for the work ahead during the of summer 2010. Full story

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