Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
October 25, 2014

June 12, 2013

The Amazing World of Congress

Looks like Michigan Republican Rep. Bill Huizenga made some new friends while strolling around the National Cable & Telecommunications Association trade show:

The Amazing World of Congress

(Courtesy Bill Huizenga)

With five young ‘uns at home, we have no doubt he’s more familiar with oddball ‘toons than grown-up shows.

‘Senator’ Strips for Cash in Campaign Video (Updated)

Updated 3:45 p.m. | An effort to pass a campaign finance overhaul bill gets racy in its most recent move to get money out of politics.

In a YouTube video published this morning, the Represent.Us campaign to “end corruption” and “get America back” portrays a fictional senator stripping down to his Old Glory underpants and allowing a pack of lobbyists to jam dollar bills just about everywhere, right up to where the sun don’t shine.

That’s a flag we don’t need waved. As our pals at sister blog Political MoneyLine wrote, “Members of Congress will not like it. Most viewers will not like it. But that may be the point they are trying to make about soliciting campaign funds.”

Randy Hackett, the ad man behind the video, produced it pro bono, Represent.Us Director Josh Silver said. “He cares so much about the issue.”

For his part, Hackett said he wanted to make sure the video would get people’s attention.

“Did it turn you on?” he asked HOH. “It’s not supposed to,” he added — but only after we conceded that yes, it did, just a little. “It’s supposed to repulse people,” he said.

Peak Kwinarian, the actor who plays the salacious senator in the video, said he was taken aback by the pseudo-patriotic drawers the creators asked him to wear for his role.

“When I originally saw them, I did have a moment there,” he said. “[But] it’s not the actual flag. … I wasn’t desecrating the flag.”

Kwinarian said this was his first foray into exotic dancing, though he said he did once wear high heels and play a woman in a musical called “Zombies From the Beyond.”

“It was a campy piece,” he clarified.

The video is only the most recent move in the campaign to get a draft of legislation known as the American Anti-Corruption Act a vote in Congress. Former Federal Election Commission Chairman Trevor Potter drafted the act. Its website says the measure would transform how elections are financed, how lobbyists influence politics and how political money is disclosed.

All the Congressional Baseball Game News That’s Fit to Print

We’re one day away from the 52nd Annual CQ Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game, and with that comes a boatload of baseball news and data from our newsroom.

Topping off the news today is former Rep. Zach Wamp’s induction into the Congressional Baseball Hall of Fame. The Tennessee Republican was a force in the field and at the plate, and he gets a much-deserved honor to show for it.

And where do the GOP hopes lie in stopping the Democrats’ recent win streak? It might just be in keeping it simple, and small.

Also, don’t forget to check out the Democratic and GOP rosters. Find out who bats left but votes right, and vice versa!

NSA Is ‘Aware’ of Impending Trolling

Hours after his testimony before the Senate Appropriations Committee this afternoon, National Security Administration Director Keith Alexander might have to answer to a much more formidable force: a legion of ticked-off netizens who will be sending deliberately loaded messages to test the NSA’s capabilities. But according to the NSA’s press flacks, the agency is “aware” of the situation.

Operation Troll the NSA invites users to send off buzzword-heavy messages at 7 p.m. EDT tonight in the hopes of jamming up the NSA’s behemoth domestic surveillance system known as PRISM. Full story

June 11, 2013

Ralph Hall, Accidental Tourist

To those who were wondering if Rep. Ralph M. Hall, R-Texas, was, in fact, lost while hanging at a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender soiree in Rayburn, the answer goes both ways.

“Last week, due to a scheduling error, I entered an ongoing reception, accompanied by staff, in the belief that we were attending a reception to honor a fellow congressman. One of the sponsors immediately greeted me, courteously welcomed us and offered refreshments,” Hall told HOH about the warm reception he received from Victory Fund folks June 5.

At some point, the worm turned.

“When I inquired about the congressman being honored, the sponsor did not know anything about that reception and presented his card. At that moment I realized that this was not the reception I intended to attend, and I put down my glass, thanked the sponsor, and told him we would be leaving,” Hall explained, adding, “Many of those in attendance probably were surprised to see me walk in, but were not surprised to see me leave quickly.”

Full story

With Richmond in Rearview, Salahi Sets Sights on Washington

Though not quite conceding that his long-shot bid to become the next governor of Virginia is all but officially over, tabloid vet Tareq Salahi is now eyeing one of the Old Dominion’s congressional seats.

A more cynical journalist might suggest that, based solely on the handful of gawkers (think: polo buddies and long-lost acquaintances) present at his campaign rollout last fall, Salahi’s political career seemed doomed from the start. Naysayers might also bring up that follow-up events, including one-off wine tours through the Virginia countryside and a NASCAR-themed stunt in Las Vegas, fizzled out rather quickly.

But, we here at HOH are more interested in what Salahi might bring to the table today.

“My political goals are not about me, not about publicity, but about serving the hard-working people of Virginia,” Salahi asserted in a combo release advocating a write-in effort for the governor’s race while also floating the idea of giving Congress a go in 2014.

Full story

Hot Dog! Mike Rogers Lauds Local Food Vendor

During a brief break from trying to wrap his head around the PRISM-related madness currently gripping Capitol Hill, House Intelligence Chairman Mike Rogers, R-Mich., managed to squeeze in a shoutout to the ultimate local businessman: a food trucker who caters to the Michigan statehouse.

“Look who’s back in business!” the Michigan Republican trumpeted on social media, commemorating the resurrection of a Lansing, Mich., tradition, Clint’s Hot Dog Cart.

A Rogers aide told HOH that the congressman has been friends with Clint’s wife, Linda, for more than a decade and said he has been excitedly awaiting the return of the iconic tube steaks.

Full story

Marco Rubio Not Afraid of Hard Work | Overheard

“I didn’t come to the Senate to sign on to a bunch of letters and give a speech once a week on the floor.” — Florida Republican Marco Rubio pauses, during a heated defense of the immigration overhaul, to explain that he didn’t battle his way into the World’s Greatest Deliberative Body just to sit idly by on the sidelines.

Marco Rubio Not Afraid of Hard Work | Overheard

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

But while he is here, might as well unload a few custom water bottles, right?

DREAM Reavers

The Senate today started debating the finer points of a contentious immigration package.

Internet detractors, meanwhile, are working hard to smear those most intimately involved:

DREAM Reavers


You stay classy, America.


The Congressional Baseball Game’s Unsung Stars

There has been so much ink given to the burgeoning rivalry between Reps. Cedric L. Richmond, D-La., and Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., as we approach Thursday’s 52nd Annual CQ Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game that sometimes even key utility and longtime players get lost in the shuffle.

Such is certainly the case with Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., and Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., veterans of the game who are the 2013 games Democratic and Republican “Spotlight” stories.

So if you haven’t heard about which team Smith grew up rooting for before changing allegiance to the Mariners, or if Flake ever could throw a 93 mph fastball, read on:

Democratic Team Spotlight: The Democrats’ ‘Adam Bomb’

GOP Team Spotlight: Flake at the Hot Corner

June 10, 2013

What a ‘Gang of Eight’ Tattoo Would Look Like

During Senate debate of the motion to proceed to immigration legislation drafted by the “gang of eight,” Sen. Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., suggested he’s been in so many Capitol Hill gangs that it “might be time to get some tattoos.”

The majority whip’s quip prompted Huffington Post politics and immigration reporter Elise Foley to tweet the hashtag #gangof8tattoos, launching a Twitter debate of what Durbin and his cohorts should get inked.

Suggestions for the gang’s joint session at DC Ink:

What a Gang of Eight Tattoo Would Look Like

Lobbying Norton to Save D.C. From Income Tax

Updated 5:35 p.m. | Capitol Hill resident and repeat shadow Senate candidate Nelson Rimensnyder wants his fellow denizens to know they’re being hosed by the federal government. And he’s hoping to recruit Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., to carry that message forward in Congress.

Rimensnyder will kick off his latest push to secure D.C. voting rights at noon Saturday at the Cleveland Park Library (3310 Connecticut Ave. NW) via a meeting outlining his position that District residents should be exempt from federal income taxes.

His rallying cry is that D.C. should be considered the same as Puerto Rico and other tax-exempt U.S. territories — at least until it receives a vote in Congress.

“They don’t require them to pay federal income taxes,” Rimensnyder said of his take on government-sponsored disenfranchisement. “It’s only fair.”

Full story

Ralph Hall Lets His Hair Down

It’s not every day you spot a lifelong conservative mingling with the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender crowd. But, as we’ve learned here at HOH, magic happens within these walls on a regular basis.

The fish-out-of-water sighting this time around involves Rep. Ralph M. Hall, R-Texas, enjoying the hospitality provided by the Victory Fund during its June 5 reception in the Rayburn House Office Building foyer:

Ralph Hall Lets His Hair Down

(Courtesy HOH tipster)

We can’t be sure how many other snowy-haired nonagenarians were floating around the gay-pride shindig, but Hall had to be the only person in the room who both helped co-found a hyper-vocal wing of his previous party (the Blue Dog Democrats) and has a solid “B” average (hasn’t dropped below 84 percent) from the American Conservative Union over the past decade.

Full story

Prankster Wants to Jam NSA Lines

Cyber-warriors looking to sling a little mud in PRISM’s all-seeing eye are calling on outraged Americans to join them in disrupting the National Security Agency’s phone/email dragnet on Wednesday.

The plan, to effectively “jam up the NSA’s scanners” at 7 p.m. Wednesday, hinges on having LOTS of people reach out and touch someone with this deliberately loaded message:

Prankster Wants to Jam NSA Lines


“We created the site as a fun comment on the current controversy. We’d love it if the NSA saw it,” the rabble-rouser told HOH. Full story

‘Dirty Wars’ Director Dishes About Tight-Lipped Members of Congress

LOS ANGELES — Interviewing Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., about drone warfare was both frustrating and enlightening, the director of the new documentary “Dirty Wars” told a sold-out screening here about talking to the member of the Senate Intelligence Committee about classified targeted-killing campaigns.

“It was completely comical sitting down there in that interview,” Richard Rowley told an after-film discussion audience on June 7 about his visit with Wyden.

Dirty Wars Director Dishes About Tight Lipped Members of Congress

Rowley discusses the new documentary after a June 7 screening in Los Angeles. (Julie Ershadi/CQ Roll Call)

Full story

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