Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
October 24, 2014

STACHEgate

The latest chapter for the American Mustache Institute-backed STACHE Act is a difficult one, but it does contain a Burt Reynolds element.

The Stimulus to Allow Critical Hair Expenses Act, popularly known as the STACHE Act, proposes to provide as much as $250 in tax breaks for facial-hair maintenance. This tax policy was put forward by the AMI, the leading facial-hair policy think tank. The group was on Capitol Hill last week lobbying for Congressional support for this tax break.

On Tuesday, it looked as if the STACHE Act finally found a champion when the AMI released a statement to announce that mustachioed Maryland GOP Rep. Roscoe Bartlett had forwarded the group’s proposal to the House Ways and Means Committee.

It turns out, however, that Lisa Wright, Bartlett’s press secretary, had forwarded the group’s white paper to the House Ways and Means Committee without the Congressman’s prior knowledge.

Because we are real journalists at HOH, we called and emailed Bartlett’s office and both the majority and minority committee offices. Only the minority returned our calls during business hours.

We did receive several forwarded emails from Bartlett’s office, however!

“Lisa Wright, Congressman Roscoe Bartlett’s press secretary, surmised that the [American] Moustache [sic] Institute approached  Congressman Bartlett because Congressman Bartlett was interviewed by WTOP reporter Paul Shinkman as part of his MOVEMBER 2011 effort to grow a moustache in honor of his late father,” Wright wrote in an email to reporters.  “Ms. Wright referred the Moustache [sic] Institute’s tax proposal to the House Ways and Means Committee which has jurisdiction over tax legislation.”

Wright did return our calls last night at 8:30 p.m., but HOH was not there because we were out pounding the bricks, like editors in the movies tell their reporters to do.

At 11:30 p.m., however, Deborah Burrell, Bartlett’s chief of staff, had Wright send out an email addressing the STACHE Act issue.

“There was no bill only a white paper that was sent by Lisa Wright, Press Secretary, as a media inquiry to the committee staff without Congressman Bartlett’s knowledge nor permission,” Burrell said. “There was no response from committee. For the record: Roscoe is pro-stache, but he does not believe Americans should pay for people’s personal grooming decisions.”

Dr. Aaron Perlut, AMI’s chairman, was gobsmacked when he heard the news.

“The American people want public officials to stop worrying about partisan politics and start worrying about our country’s future,” he told HOH. “We just hope the brazen actions of Rep. Bartlett’s chief of staff, Ms. Burrell, don’t doom America to a second-rate superpower in terms of rugged good looks.

“Perhaps if she recognized the STACHE Act provisions apply to women who wax or groom and that for each supporter of the movement, H&R Block makes [a] contribution to charity, Ms. Burrell may be inspired to ask not what you can do for your country, but what your country can do for your good looks.”

The group has a plan to woo Burrell, and the Congressman, back to its side, however.

“We will send her an autographed photo of Burt Reynolds,” he said.

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