PAC Man

Posted February 20, 2004 at 6:02pm

If freshman Sen. Norm Coleman (Minn.) really wants to become the next chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, he may want to brush up on the federal law that prohibits fundraising on federal property.

This came to light after someone slipped HOH a copy of the Minnesota Utility Contractors Association’s latest newsletter, which features a delightful photo of Coleman posing in his St. Paul office with — of all things — a PAC check in his left hand.

The caption helpfully notes that the MUCA officials were indeed there on Dec. 12 to “present” the smiling Coleman, who’s pictured with the American flag behind his right arm and the official seal of the U.S. Senate above his head, with a $1,000 check from the political action committee of the National Utility Contractors Association.

According to the Senate Ethics Manual, federal law states: “Solicitation or receipt of contributions in any room or building by a Federal employee in the course of official duties is prohibited. The sole exception is for contributions received by an individual on the staff of a Member of Congress, provided the contributions are transferred to the Member’s political committee within 7 days.”

Unfortunately for Coleman, Federal Election Commission records show that the PAC check was deposited in his re-election fund on Dec. 23, 11 days after the meeting.

“The Senator takes full responsibility for this mix-up,” Coleman spokesman Tom Stewart told HOH, adding that the boss did not have any advance knowledge that the check was coming and “immediately” turned the money over to a staffer.

“In hindsight it clearly never should have happened — it was a rookie mistake,” said Stewart. “Even the appearance or the perception of a problem is not acceptable, and we’re committed to making sure it doesn’t happen again.”

Wooooo, Pig Sooey! Conservative Rep. John Boozman (R-Ark.) was stunned to learn that someone has purchased the “boozmanforcongress.com” domain name and turned it into a gay porn site.

Visitors to the site are immediately greeted with the words “Gay Nude Chat” in big letters. Further down the home page are the words “Hot Studs USA” with young men featured in various states of undress.

“Live guys here 24/7 waiting to expose all … just for you,” says the site.

Boozman spokesman Patrick Creamer told HOH that the lawmaker obviously has nothing to do with the site and is uncertain whether it is a political dirty trick. Boozman has lawyers at the National Republican Congressional Committee reviewing the site to find out what can be done to get it shut down.

“Congressman Boozman was outraged and disturbed when this case of cyber-squatting was brought to his attention,” said Creamer. “The site has no connection to his campaign and, frankly, is inappropriate at any domain name.”

Noting that the site appears to be tied to a porn site known as “MilitaryGuy.com,” Creamer added: “This certainly is not the proper way to support our troops.”

Red Hot Candidate? The Senate campaign of 42-year-old Rep. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) sent out a press release last week touting the fact that the candidate turns up in a photo spread marked “Looking Senatorial” in this month’s Men’s Health magazine.

“The magazine, the most widely read men’s periodical in the world, features a full-page photo of Toomey — titled ‘Red HOT Right Now’ — right next to a bright red bi-plane,” Toomey’s campaign boasted about the section of the mag that touts young go-getters in all walks of life.

The campaign also helpfully pointed out that the mag says Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) is “suddenly facing the challenge of his life” from Toomey in the April GOP primary.

“When he’s in Washington, Toomey’s wardrobe stays on message,” adds the mag, which quotes the lawmaker as noting he usually sticks with dark suits. “Back in his home state, though, Toomey may cut loose — as he does here — in an Ermenegildo Zegna ensemble that’s perfect for flying his twin-engine Piper Seneca from event to event.”

And the mag offers this tip: Good khakis can take you anywhere because “they can look dressed-down in the morning, then be gentrified with a coat and tie at night.”

HOH was appreciative of the fashion advice but was a wee bit surprised to see Toomey — who’s challenging Specter from the right — turn up in an issue with other stories like “Sex Secrets! 25 Ways to Drive Her Wild.”

Or then there’s this story: “Free Sex: Is Monogamy Bad? Our man says bedding lots of women qualifies as a self-improvement plan.”

But Toomey spokesman Joe Sterns stressed that the other stories “reflect nothing” on the boss. “This simply was a feature on rising stars in various professions,” he said. “And he certainly is a rising star in the Republican Party.”

Forget NASCAR Dads. Hot-shot political reporters apparently have been scooped by the Weekly World News when it comes to spotting the most important block of voters in this election year: Britney backers.

The newspaper normally devoted to revealing the presence of space aliens on Earth breathlessly reported that American politicians are quietly “sucking up to Britney Spears in a dramatic bid to get her millions of devoted fans voting for them” this year.

“Washington insiders say there’s already a move afoot to name the next aircraft carrier off the assembly line the USS Britney Spears in honor of the pop tart’s accomplishments,” said the story. “And Congressmen who are up for reelection and this year’s presidential wannabes are openly talking about changing the name of the military’s prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to the Britney Spears Detention Center, a switch that would serve double duty by delighting Britney’s fans while infuriating terrorists who consider celebrities to be little more than demons from Hell.”

As if that was not enough, a White House “source” is quoted asserting that President Bush has reacted “not unfavorably” to the suggestion that Spears be named U.S. ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina.

HOH grew increasingly suspicious of these claims, however, when the story went on to quote an “observer” as saying that Bush is particularly impressed with Spears because they have a common bond: “They both tend to come across as inarticulate when they speak openly and off the cuff, even though both are geniuses when it comes to manipulating the public. They also know what it feels like to be made fun of. They know what it’s like to be hurt.”

In other words, Bush feels Britney’s pain.

What Security? A few Senate staffers waiting patiently to re-enter the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Feb. 13 after a fire alarm were stunned to watch 30 to 40 people suddenly sidestep the metal detectors and head right back into the building — all the while being moved along by Capitol Police officers.

Capitol Police spokeswoman Sgt. Contricia Sellers-Ford explained that the group of VIPs had been waiting to begin a ceremony marking the promotions of several Capitol Police sergeants and lieutenants when the fire alarm had gone off and were being escorted back into the building to continue with the program.

“There were several officers within the group and it was headed by officers who kept the group within sight at all times,” said Sellers-Ford, who assured HOH that the group stayed as “a secure package” during its entire time outside the building.

“I don’t care who they are,” grumbled one Senate aide who waited in the cold for his turn to go through the security checkpoint. “The rest of us who are staff people and who know we’re not supposed to do that stood there looking like fools.”

The staffer noted that he also would have preferred the convenience of skipping the security lines, but realizes it’s not a good idea: “I think that in the context of everything that we’ve been through in the past two years how could you give that order?”

John McArdle contributed to this report.