July 28, 2014 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Heard on the Hill: The Diesel Rips Off the Viper

When Rep. Darrell Issa launched the security company Directed Electronics more than 25 years ago, the California Republican set out to stop automobile theft. So who would have known that a 7-foot-1-inch basketballer-turned-rapper would end up ripping off an iconic part of Issa’s own work?

Issa was honored by the Recording Academy at the annual GRAMMYs on the Hill event Wednesday evening for supporting legislation requiring radio stations to pay artists when their music is played on air. And Issa told the audience that he personally feels the artists’ plight, as he also had his work played over the airwaves without earning any royalties: NBA superstar Shaquille O’Neal used the Congressman’s voice, without permission, on one of his rap albums.

(Remember when Shaq was a rapper?)

Issa’s voice appears on Directed Electronics’ trademark product, the Viper car alarm, which scares away car thieves with the blaring phrase, “Please step away from the car.” Shaq ended up sampling Issa’s Viper recording on one of his rap songs, the Congressman recalled.

“So, I know what it is like to get played on the radio and not get paid,” Issa said.

Issa never ended up going after Shaq to get his share of the rap song’s royalties, a spokesman tells HOH. But don’t feel too bad for the Congressman: With an estimated minimum net worth of $164 million, Issa is considered among the richest Members of Congress.

Splish Splash at a Charity Gala. Washington lobbyists often like to make a splash — and one of them literally did on Wednesday night when he stumbled into a fountain at the March of Dimes Congressional gala.

Mike Smythers, a lobbyist for BNSF Railway Co. and a former White House and Senate staffer, landed in the fountain in the National Building Museum’s Great Hall in a scene that was just a smidge less dramatic than when F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald famously cavorted in the Plaza Hotel fountain.

An embarrassed (but dried-out) Smythers told HOH the story: He arrived to the dinner a little late, after the lights had dimmed. As he made his way across the unfamiliar space, he caught sight of his table mates, waved to them and then proceeded to trip into the fountain, getting soaked from his knees on down.

“Nothing’s hurt, just my ego,” he said.

Smythers, an enthusiastic supporter of the March of Dimes, said he didn’t want to let a little sogginess keep him from enjoying the speeches and the evening, which featured dueling dishes made by Members of Congress and raised money for local low-income pregnant women.

Friends have teased him about the tumble, he said, including one who sent him a link to L.L. Bean’s waders with a suggestion that he wear them to the next dinner that he attends.

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