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Roll Call

HOH Warned You!

The lawyer representing the alleged madam of a prostitution ring that operated in D.C. for 13 years says it’s a “mathematical certainty” his client’s not-so-little black book includes some of Roll Call’s readers, i.e., power players in and around Congress.

Attorney Montgomery Blair Sibley, who is representing accused madam Jeane Palfrey, tells HOH Palfrey hasn’t told him if the client list includes lawmakers. “But it’s a pretty good bet,” Sibley said.

Palfrey, who denies her “adult fantasy firm” was illegal, has only generated a few thousand dollars from donations to her Web site, www.deborahjeanepalfrey.com, Sibley said, so she still is considering selling records of her decade-plus operation to pay her legal bills, which likely will run well into six figures.

Palfrey is expected to be arraigned Friday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

“The quality of the escorts would attract a high-quality clientele,” Sibley said, explaining his certainty that the list includes droppable-in-Washington names. Other factors pointing to lobbyists, lawmakers and other bigwigs? “The cost and the location of the meetings — they were always in upscale hotels or in upscale parts of D.C., Maryland and Virginia.”

Naughty boldfacers on the list have plenty to be nervous about. Sibley said he isn’t sure when his client will decide what to do with her records. But for now, selling them “seems to be her only option,” he said.

If You Ban It, They Will Come. New, tighter ethics rules may have slowed the gravy train of gratis booze, hors d’oeuvres and cushy seats on corporate jets. But those ever-creative geniuses of capitalism have found a way to take lemons and make ... loads of money. One little jet company that could is peddling its new ethics rule-compliant services to Members who’ve had enough of flying (sniff!) business class.

Executives from Bluestar Jets have been on a scouting mission in Washington this week figuring out the best way to tap into the market of aisle-seat-weary Members following ethics-rule rewrites. The company, which provides a la carte airplane and helicopter rentals, is gearing up for a to-be-announced “widely attended” event that it plans to host on Capitol Hill, at which it’ll lay out its unique services, bargain prices and, best yet, ethics-rules-proof approach.

Although HOH didn’t have a team of lawyers on hand to sort through the company’s claims, Bluestar Jet spokesmen said the company is looking to enlist “deep-pocketed” Members and campaign committees looking for a more convenient and comfortable air-travel option than, well, waiting in line like everyone else — or paying the retail rate for flying a corporate jet.

“Flying [on private jets] has been somewhat of a pariah,” said company spokesman Marco Larsen. Larsen said choosing to reimburse companies for the use of their corporate jets — required under the new rules — is expensive, since most corporate jets are “heavy jets” with market rates between $5,000 to $8,000 per hour.

“But you don’t need a heavy jet,” Larsen insisted. And that’s where Bluestar comes in: the company wants to introduce Members to “a new breed” of smaller, cheaper private jets.

“They’re perfect for point-to-point travel, not too-far trips,” Larsen continued. “Those are about $1,200 per hour.”

Which is still pricier than flying commercial, of course. But for Members looking to keep their (ethical) noses clean, it just might be a bargain.

Star Witnesses. One sure sign Democrats are in power? Democratic darling actor/activist Richard Gere has been called to testify Tuesday before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Gere, who was last spotted in the Capitol cheering on Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) during her swearing-in ceremony in January, will discuss Tibet with the committee. Gere makes time, aside from a full-time gig as an aging sex symbol (which is time-consuming, no doubt), to serve as chairman of the board of directors for the International Campaign for Tibet.

And the committee’s subcommittee on the Western hemisphere also is getting some star-power: singer Wyclef Jean will testify on the same day that Gere does, about Haiti’s development needs.

Briefly Quoted. “There may be an eighth U.S. attorney the president would like to fire” — Democratic Caucus Chairman Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.), when asked Tuesday for his reaction to the “guilty” verdict against Scooter Libby, Vice President Cheney’s former chief of staff who was convicted of lying to federal investigators. ...

“Ooh, I’d love to be the Minority Leader” — Rep. Deborah Pryce (R-Ohio), ranking member of the House Financial Services subcommittee on capital markets, during a Monday field hearing. Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-N.Y.) mistakenly introduced her as the panel’s “Minority Leader” instead of its “ranking member.” ...

“You don’t know Shia about anything” — House Intelligence Chairman Silvestre Reyes (D-Texas), recalling the taunts he’s gotten from Hispanic Caucus colleagues after an embarrassing story in CQ in which Reyes incorrectly answered a reporter’s quiz about the Middle East, quoted in local paper El Paso Inc.

Please send your hot tips, juicy gossip or comments to hoh@rollcall.com.

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