Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
September 1, 2015

April 29, 2014

Alan Grayson’s Divorce Keeps Getting Weirder

The problem isn’t that Rep. Alan Grayson and his spouse, Lolita, are stuck in a horrifically troubled union. It’s that the two should have never been allowed to take the misguided plunge in the first place.

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

At least, that’s what the Florida Democrat is now arguing, after discovering that Lolita didn’t officially split from a previous beau until four years after the Graysons had tied the knot.

The Orlando Sentinel has all the sordid details about the kooky chronology, as well as the latest he said, she said from the feuding camps’ flabbergasted legal teams.

The one development we simply could not ignore is that the lawmaker is now petitioning for possession of the 1981 DeLorean in his auto collection.

No word on whether he’s got a flux capacitor in there that could help him race back to 1990 and halt this train wreck of a relationship from ever happening.

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen Floats Lifeline for Local Watering Holes

Florida Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen was so bummed out about the imminent shuttering of the Pour House, she rushed to Twitter to rally support for a bold new initiative: the DRINKS Act.

 

 

According to a Ros-Lehtinen aide, the umbrella proposal “includes but is not limited to 18th Amendment, Hawk and Dove, Lil’ Pub, and Pour House” — all venerable Capitol Hill hangouts, save for the struggling Hawk ‘n’ Dove, that have blinked out of existence over the past few months.

Overheard: Kissing Congressman ‘Respectfully Disagrees’

“I do not feel it’s in my constituents’ best interest to leave them without representation for the second time in less than a year.”

— Rep. Vance McAllister, explaining why he has rebuffed Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s request that he resign.

Senate Aide Campaigns for Husband’s Fly Gear

Lisa Schultz, the chief of staff of the Senate Chaplain’s Office, is on a mission to make sure her man, aspiring fashion template Tim Schultz, does D.C. proud in terms of looking, hmm-hmm-good.

(Courtesy Lisa Schultz)

(Courtesy Lisa Schultz)

The only thing standing between Tim and a fabulous new wardrobe (suggested retail value: $1,815) are the would-be Dapper Dons currently leading the pack in The Style Blogger’s April Reader giveaway. Online voting for the sartorial showdown closes April 30.

Per Lisa, Tim got turned on to fine threads later in life. But he’s catching on fast.

“He became interested in men’s fashion as he entered his ‘mid-life crisis,’” she quipped, adding that “his interest is growing.”

That learning curve has impacted Tim’s professional life — Lisa said he’s been a featured writer on the men’s style site Dappered — as well as his personal shopping habits.

“Otherwise, we’d shop at my favorite thrift store in the DMV area, Value Village,” Lisa said of her predisposition toward bargain hunting.

‘Compared to What’ Prompts Barney Frank to Look Back (and Forward)

Seeing one’s life unspool before you on the silver screen would undoubtedly make anybody take stock in whom they had surrounded themselves with, what all had been accomplished and perhaps what, if anything, there is left to do.

It certainly did for retired Rep. Barney Frank.

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

The Massachusetts Democrat mentally ping-ponged through the space-time continuum while watching, “Compared to What,” a documentary about his political and private life that debuted this past weekend at the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival in New York City.

In the movie, Frank credits the late Rep. Allard K. Lowenstein, D-N.Y., with motivating him to travel to Mississippi in 1963 to champion civil/voting rights, and is later shown wrestling with a decision to break the news about his sexuality to friend and mentor Speaker Thomas P. “Tip” O’Neill Jr., D-Mass.

During a post-screening Q&A with co-executive producer Alec Baldwin, Frank revealed that he was, in fact, close to a number of lawmakers, both past and present.

The members he said he missed most include:

  • Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif.
  • Ex-Rep. Howard L. Berman, D-Calif.
  • Former North Carolina Democrat-cum-Federal Housing Finance Agency Director  Melvin Watt
  • Ex-Rep. Patricia Schroeder, D-Colo.
  • Ex-Rep. Ronald V. Dellums, D-Calif.

He also expressed affection for Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine — an e-vangelist who, apparently, helped drag Frank into the 21st century.

A devotee of traditional newspapers — the voracious reader is seen devouring different sections of his beloved New York Times in just about every scene of the film during which he’s not being directly interviewed — Frank noted that he once borrowed a tablet from Pingree. That experience evidently gave him a new appreciation for the public fascination with e-readers.

“I’m going to get the Kindle,” he alerted the assembled film aficionados at Tribeca. Full story

The 9 Kinds of Capitol Hill Flacks

Is there any job out there better than being a Capitol Hill flack? No, this is not a rhetorical question. There’s something about pitching your boss, day-in and day-out, through votes, campaigns, cable TV interviews and the occasional scandal, that allows you to go home with a satisfied grin of a job well done.

But beneath that pile of press releases are flacks with different styles — and degrees of success. As campaign season comes into full swing, Roll Call’s Team Politics and Hill Navigator put together a list of the most common kinds we’ve seen come through our inbox, and HOH heartily endorses. Full story

April 28, 2014

Lincoln’s Cottage Hosts Special Citizenship Ceremony

Oscar Umanzor, 9, center, originally from El Salvador, participates in the citizenship ceremony at Lincoln’s Cottage in Northwest D.C. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Oscar Umanzor, 9, center, originally from El Salvador, participates in the citizenship ceremony at Lincoln’s Cottage in Northwest D.C. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

On April 22, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson met with leaders in faith, business and law enforcement to discuss immigration enforcement and implore Congress to act on stalled immigration overhaul legislation.

A few miles away, in a small room steeped in history, 20 children raised their right hands and swore allegiance to the United States of America.

These children hailed from 15 different countries: from Egypt to El Salvador, Pakistan to Peru, South Korea to Syria.  “I was born in India. I came here when I was 3,” said 10-year-old Pratyush Vijayakumar. For him, being an American citizen means “that I’m from the U.S.” Full story

By Bridget Bowman Posted at 7:40 p.m.
DC

No Joke: ‘Compared to What’ Edutains New Wave of Barney Frank Fans (Video)

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

NEW YORK — Flying directly in the face of confidence-draining legislative dysfunction and abysmally low congressional approval ratings, the few hundred Tribeca Film Festival fans who joined ex-Rep. Barney Frank for the emotional roller coaster ride of reliving his past came out on the other side laughing, cheering and feeling a whole helluva lot better about our elected officials.

In reality, the new documentary (“Compared to What”) surrounding the retired Massachusetts Democrat’s final year in Congress covers all the bases — the meteoric rise to power, career-threatening scandals and hard-won happy ending — of a soapy political drama.

Many of the folks who converged on the School of Visual Arts Theatre on Sunday here in Chelsea didn’t make the trip to gawk at the skeletons in Frank’s closet or revel in partisan warfare.

If anything, several attendees came searching for a glimpse into what makes the once and future comeback king of Capitol Hill tick.

“I want to know more about him,” Carmen Hendershott, a self-described liberal, said of her sudden interest in the retired pol. “I’m aware that Barney Frank is a stand-up, liberal politician. And I came here two hours early to get a seat.”

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

The 40-year-plus resident of New York City hinted that she was “just getting into him,” but liked what she’d seen and heard so far.

“I think that in these times what people really want is to have hope,” Hendershott suggested. “Because things are so bad that if you find somebody who has integrity and who has stood up for things that needed to be defended, it makes you hope that perhaps others will. Or that perhaps the small things that you do can make a difference.”

“People still keep fighting. But, of course, with Citizens United you get Republicans burying any worthy candidate in a sea of money for the opponent. And you can’t have a democracy that way,” she argued, laying the blame for our alarmingly fractured political system squarely at the feet of the Supreme Court of the United States. Full story

Keep the Crises Coming — Flack For Dan Synder!

Dust off those resumes, Capitol Hill communicators looking to jump off the rapidly sinking ships floating around Congress: Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder needs YOUR help flogging his perennially basement-dwelling squad.

That’s right, the most vehemently despised D.C. sports team owner in recent history — amassing only a handful of playoff appearances over the past 15 seasons and struggling to reach .500 most years, which has taken its toll on even diehard fans — is on the hunt for a social media coordinator.

The Dream Job of the Week” laundry-lists a host of technobabbley responsibilities (“drive member-generated content;” “add value to social sites”) but neglects to mention all the little extras that should prove as disruptive, if not more so, than your typical congressional scandal.

The roster of heartburn-stoking carryovers includes:

  • Management’s refusal to amend the team name amidst ongoing protests by offended Native American groups (and frequent tongue lashings from fed-up lawmakers);
  • Picking fights with local press;
  • Shamelessly exploiting the cheerleading staff;
  • Brazenly squeezing every last dollar possible out of unsuspecting fans

Dealing with the constant drama should come second nature to Hill staffers who’ve grown accustomed to simply waiting for the other shoe to drop.

We imagine everyone in the office of embattled Rep. Michael G. Grimm, R-N.Y., is completely psyched to ride out the 20-count indictment handed down earlier today.

And what aspiring professional wouldn’t want to stick around and see how short-timer Rep. Steve Stockman, R-Texas, weathers a swirling ethics inquiry? (Bonus points to anyone who stays put if Stockman decides to go AWOL again.)

Why wait for the kiss-off six months from now from Rep. Vance McAllister, R-La.— who has officially thrown in the towel after getting caught canoodling with his district scheduler — when you can spend all summer sweating bullets contemplating how the Skins will shoot themselves in the foot this pre-season?

Or perhaps someone in the office of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., could just use a break from cutting and pasting the phrase “Koch brothers” into every single statement that comes down the pike:

Regardless of your reasons, run — don’t walk — into The Danny’s open arms.

A job this sweet nerve-wracking is unlikely to roll around again anytime soon. Unless, of course, Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling puts out the call for a new spin doctor.

Rep. Sean Duffy: “First, Let Me Take a Selfie”

“Alright, I’m on the way to a town hall, but first, let me take a selfie.”

So says Rep. Sean P. Duffy, R-Wis., who goes on to post a spoof of the viral video “#SELFIE” by The Chainsmokers on YouTube, mixing the song with his own self-taken pictures with constituents, fellow lawmakers and others.

Duffy posed with Barbara Walters and Speaker John A. Boehner and even took a “bipartisan selfie” with House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md.

http://youtu.be/l31PZm-YcWM

He’s even included some of Roll Call’s own documentation of him selfie-ing! Toward the end of the video, that picture of him doing a video selfie on the East Front? Photo Editor Bill Clark took that one.

“I’m jumping on a trend to try to engage my younger constituents,” Duffy told Mashable. “They need to know that a lot of what’s happening now will impact their futures. If taking a ‘selfie’ with the chair of the SEC, Steny Hoyer or Alzheimer’s research advocates, gets their attention, then it’s worth it. Plus, it’s fun.”

Duffy has been taking selfies and posting short selfie videos for more than a year. “It’s more candid and he can be more off the cuff, which people respond to,” said Duffy’s spokesperson, Cassie Smedile.

Smedile said when constituents and other groups come into Duffy’s office, they often want to take a selfie with the congressman, in addition to the posed photo.

When Duffy’s staff saw the song “#SELFIE” taking off online a few weeks ago, they thought it would be a fun idea to use Duffy’s photos to create their own video and the congressman was on board.  According to Smedile, the House Republican Conference’s digital team helped assemble the video during the recent recess.

The response has been “overwhelmingly positive in a way that I think even surprised us,” said Smedile.  She said Duffy’s younger constituents have been especially responsive to the video, sharing it with friends online and retweeting it as well.

“The point of it was to try and engage this younger constituency that isn’t necessarily paying attention to what we’re doing on a day-to-day basis, and we were shocked that they responded to it like they did.” said Smedile.

So far, the video has nearly 9,000 views on YouTube.  The Wisconsin Republican is no stranger to the limelight;  he was a cast member on MTV’s “Real World” and “Road Rules” reality programs.

Sold! Baucus’ Million-Dollar-Plus Home Set to Close

Former Sen. Max Baucus is representing U.S. interests in Beijing, as our ambassador to China, and in doing so, he left behind his quite nice D.C. digs, the sale of which is scheduled to close on May 9.

Baucus unloads his D.C. real estate. (Jason Dick/CQ Roll Call)

Baucus unloads his D.C. real estate. (Jason Dick/CQ Roll Call)

An “under contract” sign hangs outside his $1.2 million home in Eastern Market at 717 North Carolina Ave. SE, just a few blocks from the Capitol.

 “We had lots of interest,” said listing agent Christopher Ritzert, adding, “It’s a really nice

house.  It’s in a spectacular location.”

Sotheby’s International Reality, a company committed to selling luxury real estate, is handling the sale.

The listing boasts 2,100 square feet, three bedrooms, two fireplaces and a spa/hot tub.

Baucus was confirmed as top envoy to China in February, prompting him to list his home.  According to Ritzert, Baucus put the home on the market on March 20. The Washington Post reported that Baucus had lived in the house since 2009, when he bought it for $969,000.

By Bridget Bowman Posted at 2:06 p.m.
DC, HillSide, Sens, Stylin'

Reviews in for Grimm’s Healthalicious, and They’re Not Good

Rep. Michael G. Grimm is in a heap of trouble over his involvement in the New York City restaurant Healthalicious, a fast-food joint on the Upper East Side he operated before being elected to Congress. The feds have indicted him over what they say are unsavory payroll practices.

Good thing customer satisfaction wasn’t factored into the equation, because there’s a long trail of unhappy patrons.

Yelp’s most recent reviews paint a picture of high prices, mediocre food and questionable sanitation. Jordan K. of Manhattan, last week bemoaned price — “$30 on 2 salads once” — but said the “food tastes pretty fresh whenever I get it. I keep going back, so that’s something.” That less-than-ringing endorsement is about as good as it gets.

Caitlin H. from Manhattan wrote in March: “Horribly limp, watery and incredibly disappointing 10 dollar Caesar salad. … The only saving grace was the Parmesan cheese. … That is all I ate.”

In February, Sheila S. of Manhattan advised, “Don’t Go There … The guy who was preparing my salad was using one hand to prepare it and the other hand to pick his nose. No gloves. Then both hands reached toward my salad but I couldn’t tell if he was touching it with his hands or a kitchen utensil as the counter blocked my view. DISGUSTING. I will never go there again.”

Other user review sites, such as Menu Pages, are less than kind. An anonymous reviewer, perhaps concerned he or she could be thrown off a balcony if true identity was verified, said back in January: “Not good. I would not let anyone in my family eat here again.”

Scandal-tinged sites tend to attract the curious. But consider yourself forewarned, tourists: If you must go see Grimmalicous, don’t eat.

 

Related Stories:

GOP Could Be Stuck With Grimm, Despite Expected Indictment

Grimm Expected to Be Indicted

Bill Maher’s Audience Targets Grimm, Farenthold

Capitol Journalists Opt to Lay Rep. Grimm’s Threat to Rest

Michael Grimm Threatens to Throw Reporter Off Balcony (Video)

April 27, 2014

Mooving Right Along, on Capitol Quip

CapitolQuip-04-28-14.jpg

 Cliven Bundy is hot now, proving that all you have to do to become an icon is not pay your grazing fees and have some interesting views on job training! That brings us to this week’s Capitol Quip.

Send us a caption for this week’s contest by leaving it in the comments section. Editors will pick five finalists on Wednesday, and everyone can vote for the winner through Thursday.

To see our previous winners, check us out on Pinterest.

By Jason Dick Posted at 7:05 p.m.
Capitol Quip

Kathleen Sebelius *Wink-Wink-Heart* Capitol Quip

CapitolQuip-04-21-14-Final.jpg

Thanks to the many readers who contributed captions for last week’s Capitol Quip contest. Here’s the winning entry, as voted by readers of Heard on the Hill.

The winner will receive a signed color print suitable for framing from Roll Call cartoonist R.J. Matson. Check out our past winners on Pinterest.

By Jason Dick Posted at 7 p.m.
Capitol Quip

Barney Frank Doc Fits Right In at Tribeca Film Festival

AMTRAK NORTHEAST REGIONAL, EN ROUTE TO NEW YORK — Spending an hour-and-a-half immersed in the minutiae of retired Rep. Barney Frank’s day-to-day existence may sound like an odd way to spend a Sunday. But it’s part of the peek-behind-the-political-curtain cinephiles have come to expect from the intellectually challenging Tribeca Film Festival.

Audiences will get their first taste of “Compared to What: The Improbable Journey of Barney Frank,” later this afternoon.

CTW Trailer 2 mins from Pack Creek Productions on Vimeo.

An aide to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi — filmmakers Sheila Canavan and Michael Chandler picked the California Democrat’s brain as part of the process — told HOH his boss had seen an early cut of the flick and enjoyed the look back at her colleague’s illustrious career. Other House lawmakers and former congressional aides are very interested in seeing how Frank’s larger-than-life personality will come across on the big screen.

None of this, however, is particularly new to the Tribeca crowd.

TFF spokeswoman Tammie Rosen said the 13-year-old celebration of independent cinema has made a habit of welcoming those willing to get up close and personal with decision makers, as well as in-the-line-of-fire world leaders.

“We always have really buzzed-about docs that are political,” Rosen said of the festival’s rich history.

That tradition is alive and well this year, manifesting itself via hard looks at thought provoking subjects, including:

  • 1971” — an examination of the Citizens’ Commission to Investigate the FBI’s attempt at breaking into the top cop’s Media, Pa., HQ
  • All About Ann: Governor Richards of the Lone Star State” — reflections on the first woman to serve as governor of Texas
  • In Guns We Trust” — a glimpse into mandatory firearms ownership in Kennesaw, Ga.
  • Of Many” — Political scion (and mom-in-training) Chelsea Clinton showed off the religiously themed documentary she co-produced a handful of times during the festival. (The final showing is today at 2:30 p.m.)
  • Silenced” — delving into the plight of whistleblowers in a post-9/11 world
  • True Son” — chronicling aspiring pol Michael Tubbs’ run for city council in Stockton, Calif.
  • Use of Force” — a “fully immersive documentary experience” that places viewers in the middle of the fatal confrontation (2010) between immigrant Anastasio Hernandez Rojas and the U.S. border patrol

Rosen was unsure whether Frank was the first congressman to participate in a world premiere at TFF; she noted that Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Rwandan President Paul Kagame added political power in previous years.

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