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

May 7, 2013

Russian Around

From the looks of things, Secretary of State John Kerry might be a tad early for his meeting at the Kremlin.

Russian Around


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By Warren Rojas Posted at 3:54 p.m.

Rainn Wilson’s Baha’i Background and Iran’s Prisoners of Conscience

Hollywood actor Rainn Wilson, best known for bringing life to the aggravating geekery of Dwight Schrute in the NBC sitcom “The Office,” is using his celebvocat status to advocate for the release of seven religious leaders currently imprisoned in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Wilson was raised Baha’i by his parents, who converted in the 1960s, he told HOH.

The Baha’is of the United States, an official organization, says that the Iranian government has wrongly imprisoned seven Baha’i leaders and given them unreasonably harsh 20-year sentences.

“They’re not out to convert people,” Wilson said in an interview before an event at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace on Monday. “They’re just out to have their faith.”


Rainn Wilsons Bahai Background and Irans Prisoners of Conscience

Wilson speaks about the state of Baha’i prisoners to an audience at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. (Julie Ershadi/CQ Roll Call)

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‘Will on the Hill’ Jabs at CNN

If you’re looking to elicit laughs from an audience, make jokes about CNN’s blunder-filled coverage of the Boston Marathon bombings.

Or, at least that’s what participants in the annual “Will on the Hill” performance learned.

A bipartisan crowd of senators and representatives, as well as a few members of the Fourth Estate, performed the Shakespeare-inspired “Toil and Trouble” on Monday, which poked fun at a “National Necessary News Network” trying to fill airtime before a White House announcement, with no news to announce. Full story

Why Everyone Is Sweet on Scott Rigell

When last we checked in on Rep. Scott Rigell, the Virginia Republican was busy propping up various fast-food franchises stretched between Capitol Hill and Hampton Roads, Va.

With his travel diet now well-documented, HOH went digging closer to home — probing his staff for more information about the fabled dessert made by Rigell’s wife, Teri: lemon pound cake.

While our initial investigation focused on the family recipe (more on that in a moment), we soon discovered that the cult of Teri’s baking extends far beyond Rigell’s office in Cannon. Full story

May 6, 2013

Air Force Sex Assault Arrest Highlight’s Filmmakers’ Quest

A key point in last year’s Academy Award nominated documentary “The Invisible War” was that the military was structurally incapable of adequately policing sexual assault in the armed services. As if to bolster the filmmakers’ case, the Air Force officer in charge of its Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Branch has been arrested and charged with sexual battery.

“The DoD estimates that, on average, there are more than 50 sexual assaults involving military personnel each day. The only thing unusual about this particular assault is that the accused was actually arrested and charged, and that senior officers in his chain of command cannot intervene to prevent his prosecution,” Kirby Dick, the director of “The Invisible War,” told CQ Roll Call. His film’s key tenet is that the military does not follow standard criminal justice procedures in sexual assault cases, keeping them within the chain of command, and that this has helped lead to an epidemic of sexual assault in the armed forces.

Air Force Sex Assault Arrest Highlights Filmmakers Quest

Filmmakers Kirby Dick, left, and Amy Ziering promoted their film “The Invisible War,” about military sexual assault, in Washington last year. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Lt. Col. Jeff Krusinski was arrested by Arlington County, Va., police on Sunday in a Crystal City, Va., parking lot, as first reported by ARLnow. According to the police report “a drunken male subject approached a female victim in a parking lot and grabbed her breasts and buttocks. The victim fought the suspect off as he attempted to touch her again and alerted police.” Krusinski was arrested, charged and held on a $5,000 unsecured bond.

Full story

What’s Eating Jason Chaffetz?

Rep. Jason Chaffetz suffered a rude awakening Sunday, when his lunch plans were foiled by a pair of tightly shuttered doors.

“I’d been dreaming of my We, The Pizza slice of buffalo chicken pizza and dessert of choice, fries from Good Stuff,” the Utah Republican told HOH.

Although he makes his way to cheflebrity Spike Mendelsohn’s burgertorium with some regularity — “Nightly is the goal,” Chaffetz said — the House member had never wandered by on a Sunday, the only day of the week the burgeoning chainlet does not crank out any comestibles.

His next stop? Five Guys, where Chaffetz found himself staring down a well-appointed bacon cheese dog. Full story

Barr: My Newborn Girl Owes $53,000 to the Man

Rep. Andy Barr and his wife, Carol, welcomed their newborn baby girl to the world last week. In a Sunday newsletter, the Kentucky Republican called little Mary Clay “a beautiful gift from God” — and then quickly tied the news to his concerns about the national debt.

“My top priority as your representative in Congress is to reduce our rapidly growing national debt that is choking our economy and which, if left unchecked, will cripple the futures of our children and grandchildren,” the constituent newsletter reads.

Barr heralded his daughter’s birth with a graphic that includes such cutesy statistics as her weight, time of birth and … her share of the national debt.

Barr: My Newborn Girl Owes $53,000 to the Man

Full story

Panetta’s FleishmanHillard Gig ‘Not a Massive Commitment’

Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has rejoined the advisory board of global communications giant FleishmanHillard, but the new gig isn’t expected to be terribly taxing.

Panetta left the Pentagon earlier this year and returned home to Monterey, Calif., where he resumed control of his nonprofit Panetta Institute for Public Policy. At the time, he said he was looking forward to spending time with the family, hanging out at the Panetta walnut farm, etc. Full story

Take Five: Rep. Steve Chabot

It’s time for another Take Five, HOH’s chance to get to know a member of Congress with five fun questions relatively unrelated to the business of legislation. This week, Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Ohio, breaks down his love of history, Cincinnati and dogs over cats.

Q. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A. A lot of different things at different points. Probably the longest term as a kid, probably an airline pilot. It’d be interesting to fly to different places. Never did it, but that’s what I probably wanted to be. Wanted to be a schoolteacher, and I did do that. Never thought of being a politician when I was very young, but one never knows how things are going to turn out in one’s life.

Take Five: Rep. Steve Chabot

Chabot, center, is about 3 years old in this 1956 photo. He is standing with his older brother, Ron, and parents, Gerard and Doris, in Reading, a part of greater Cincinnati, Ohio. The family is standing outside the trailer where they lived. (File Photo)

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D.C. Radio Psychic Helps Launch Congressional Campaign

Who knew that 94.7 Fresh FM’s “The Tommy Show” could be the launchpad for a congressional career?

On Thursdays, the show brings on psychic Sherry Sherry to advise listeners and give them counsel. And it was on May 2 that Sherry might have provided the impetus for the next great American congressional candidate when Afghan War veteran Cole called in with a question that only Sherry could answer.

“My question is, should I run for political office?” he said.

“I see two words: Hell, yea,” she responded. Full story

PEN/Faulkner Awards Showcase D.C.’s Literary Culture

It’s easy to forget, amid Capitol Hill’s partisan din, about the capital city’s rich literary heritage.

Then the PEN/Faulkner awards pop up, once a year, reminding all around that Washington, D.C., has a strong artistic culture that has nothing to do with fiery press releases and mind-numbing think tank studies. It can be the setting for what one awards judge described as the beginning of our “unsecret time,” and it can be where authors from such small press endeavors as Cinco Puntos Press and Coffee House Press explore the American experience, whether that be through war, the flooding of New Orleans or living on the border.

The PEN/Faulkner Foundation board is populated by local authors incuding George Pelecanos, Azar Nafisi and Deborah Tannen, and the foundation provides its Reading Series in the capital region that features such luminaries as Jeffrey Eugenides, Terry McMillan and Robert Stone.

Full story

By Jason Dick Posted at 12:54 p.m.

May 5, 2013

Back in Session | Capitol Quip

Back in Session | Capitol Quip

Illustrator R.J. Matson’s latest cartoon needs a caption.

Members of Congress return from their recess with big-ticket items waiting for them, such as immigration legislation, the Keystone XL oil pipeline and whether to formally go to conference on the budget resolution. In other words, plenty of fodder for Capitol Quip comedy!

Leave us your caption in the comments section below. Editors will pick five finalists Wednesday, and then everyone can vote for the winner until Thursday afternoon. The winner gets a signed print from Matson.

By Jason Dick Posted at 7:30 p.m.
Capitol Quip

This Caption Had the Right Lift | Capitol Quip

This Caption Had the Right Lift | Capitol Quip

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.

May 3, 2013

While You Were Away …

During congressional recesses, members of Congress leave the Capitol campus and beleaguered staffers may get a day or two away, but HOH is always on duty! Here’s a roundup of the highlights from keeping a watchful eye on Capitol Hill, even during a slow week.

Bird Makes Hitchcock Proud

Capitol Police officers stationed at Second Street and Constitution Avenue Northeast got the Tippi Hedren treatment from an unfriendly crow who dive-bombed them, tourists and neighborhood folks.

An officer said the crow is likely just protecting the baby birds living in a large nest high atop the tree and joked that officers stationed at the post have alerted their commander about the “assault suspect,” which he described as a “10-inch black crow.”

Herrera Beutler Is Expecting

Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler knows what’s coming for her new kid: a lifetime of correcting people that “No, no, it’s pronounced ‘Butler.’”

That was how the Washington Republican announced on her Facebook page that she and her husband, Dan, are “expecting a baby.” This will be the couple’s first child.

Mark Sanford Gets Larry Flynt Treatment

Because things weren’t weird enough in the special election for South Carolina’s 1st District House seat, what with satirist Stephen Colbert’s sister taking on the world’s foremost Appalachian Trail hiker, Hustler publisher Larry Flynt entered the picture.

Calling former Gov. Mark Sanford the “sex pioneer of our time,” Flynt endorsed the former Republican House member who, in 2009, disappeared for several days for a tryst in Argentina with then-mistress, now-fiancee María Belén Chapur.

“Sanford’s open embrace of his mistress in the name of love, breaking his sacred marriage vows, was an act of bravery that has drawn my support,” Flynt said.

Elie Wiesel’s Revelation

Elie Wiesel told the crowd at a 20th anniversary tribute to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum that his public scolding of President Bill Clinton at the 1993 dedication of the museum was partially because of the rain.

“Our shoes were in water,” Wiesel said, as was the speech he had spent the night before writing. So he improvised and told Clinton on April 22, 1993, to “do something” about the bloodshed in Yugoslavia.

Clinton, speaking at the anniversary tribute on April 29, took it in stride, saying people like Wiesel compelled him to “get off my rear end and do something about Bosnia.”

Derby Day Addendum

We here at HOH consider our editorial mission to be, partially, one of public service. And what better way to convey that than to give our loyal readers a few ideas for how to spend the upcoming weekend.

Start it off right Friday afternoon with the grand opening of Hill Country’s Backyard Barbecue pop-up at the National Building Museum. Starting at 4 p.m. on the west lawn of the museum at Fifth Street Northwest between F and G streets, the HC crowd will serve up smoked meat, beer and tunes.  Full story

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