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Heard on the Hill: Ode to a Staffer’s 40th Birthday

Buying a birthday gift for a House employee can be tricky with all those pesky ethics rules, but lobbyist Peggy Ellis found a creative way around them.

When the 40th birthday of Paul Teller, executive director of the Republican Study Committee, rolled around earlier this month, Ellis took it upon herself to pen a poem to mark the occasion. “An Ode to Paul Teller’s Birthday Present” bemoans the difficulty of buying gifts that don’t violate House ethics rules.

“My mother always taught me, when going to a party, be sure to take a card and a present — something smart-y,” the poem reads.

“But mother never had to deal with the House Committee on Ethics, whose birthday rules — even for good friends, are completely pathetic.”

Along with the poem, Ellis gave Teller a “lousy bottle of bubbly” that set her back $6.99 at Safeway.

Teller calls the poem “classic” and says it was a highlight of his birthday.

“When you get to be my age, you’re just glad you can still read anything without a magnifying glass. But this was one of my favorite gifts because of how much heart it showed,” he says.

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