Firing Away at Feehery

Posted March 19, 2004 at 5:15pm

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is demanding an apology from House GOP aide John Feehery for suggesting that she has pushed an “appease Saddam Hussein” policy.

Pelosi fired off a private letter to Speaker Dennis Hastert on Thursday demanding that the Illinois Republican“disassociate” himself from the comments his spokesman made to Roll Call last week.

“This type of discourse degrades our national debate and is beneath your high office,” Pelosi wrote. “Though we reached different conclusions on whether or not Saddam Hussein posed an imminent threat to the United States, we should never part company on the need for a responsible national dialogue on these matters.”

Feehery declined to discuss the matter with HOH, adding that his boss is not likely to comment either.

Pelosi first revealed her anger at Feehery during her weekly press briefing, which was also marked by fiery talk on an ethics matter. When reporters pressed Pelosi about the possibility that Republicans will now press an ethics charge against her because of irregularities with her political action committee, Pelosi said she’s not afraid of any threats.

“Bring them on,” she said, repeating the statement a second time for emphasis.

After being hit with nearly a dozen follow-up questions about the PAC, Pelosi finally declared, “I am more concerned about the Speaker’s spokesperson calling me an appeaser of Saddam Hussein. And, for that, I demand an apology.”


The More Things Change … With C-SPAN celebrating its 25th birthday last Friday, HOH thought it might be intriguing to check out some of the reviews of the network’s early days.

And sure enough, a July 7, 1979, story in TV Guide provides some interesting perspective on Pelosi’s current charge that Republicans are leading a “drive-by Congress” that doesn’t work very often.

When, 25 years ago, TV Guide asked for a review of C-SPAN from Phil Jones, who was covering Congress for CBS News, he cracked: “Nobody is using it much. The fact is, the House Members haven’t done a damn thing this session.”


Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow. The always-quirky Maria Pappas, who finished fourth in Tuesday’s Democratic primary for the Illinois Senate seat, has filed a lawsuit against a Vidal Sassoon Salon over a bad dye job.

The Cook County treasurer is seeking $50,000 in damages in the suit filed two days after her primary loss, according to the Chicago Tribune, amid charges that her skin was burned by some bum dye mix.

The Tribune reported that the fight stems from a March 19, 2002, session at the Chicago salon during which, Pappas alleges, her stylists failed to properly test the hair-coloring chemical before applying it, causing the adverse reaction. She ended up in an emergency room with swollen eyes and respiratory discomfort.

Pappas soldiered on and appeared as a political commentator on WGN that night, which must have made for must-see TV. The suit claims that she had “severe redding and swelling of the scalp line, redness on the jaw extending to her neck, and redness and swelling across her cheeks and forehead.”

For the sake of gossip columnists in Washington, it’s really a travesty that Pappas didn’t win the Democratic nomination.


Martha, Can You Spare $1,000? Who would have expected Rep. Richard Gephardt (D-Mo.) to turn up in Martha Stewart’s phone logs?

But a long piece in The New Yorker magazine about the design diva notes that Stewart’s logs “revealed an existence of enviable privilege and variety” over the course of her criminal trial.

Amid phone messages — some from friends wondering if they could borrow her white Jaguar and one from Gephardt wanting to speak to Stewart “about his upcoming trip to New York” that inevitably was connected to campaign fundraising — there was this gem:

“Melanie Griffith (sounding exactly 12 years old) heard you were looking for someone to ‘cook with on TV’ and she’d like to recommend her sister, Tracy, who is ‘forty, beautiful, a sushi chef in LA, and a HUGE Martha fan.’”


Bet Your House on Victory. Rep. Richard Burr (R) may be locked in a tight Senate race in North Carolina, but that hasn’t stopped him from planting roots in Washington.

Last fall, the five-term Republican bought a $525,000 townhouse on Capitol Hill from his retiring colleague Rep. Cass Ballenger (R-N.C.), according to property records.

But Burr says the purchase doesn’t mean he knows for sure that he’ll be sticking around Washington for at least another six years.

“I’ve got a very tough election,” Burr said. “One can’t predict the outcome.”

Burr rented the basement from Ballenger for the past few years and decided to buy the place when his fellow Tar State Member announced that he would leave Congress at the end of 2004.

Now that Burr is the landlord, he has no plans to kick Ballenger downstairs. Instead, he will continue to live in the basement and rent the upstairs to Ballenger until the end of this year.

Burr wasn’t the only Member who bought property from a retiring colleague last year.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) bought a place from former Rep. Van Hilleary (R-Tenn.), who is now a lobbyist with Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal, after Hilleary lost his campaign for governor.

Graham bought half of the $411,000 townhouse from him years ago, and then purchased the final half last summer.


Not Standing Pat. Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) is still beefing up his leadership office during this election year, bringing in savvy legislative strategist Pat Griffin to serve as a senior adviser.

In recent months, Daschle had already brought on veteran House aide Phil Schiliro to serve as his policy director and Todd Webster, a former spokesman for Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), as communications director.

Griffin’s long career has included distinguished stints as senior floor assistant for then-Senate Majority Leader Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) as well as Democratic Secretary of the Senate, in addition to time on the Budget panel and the Democratic Policy Committee.

“I am pleased that Pat Griffin has agreed to return to the Senate,” said Daschle. “With his vast experience in legislative affairs and his knowledge of Senate procedure, Pat will be an important asset for all Senate Democrats.”

Griffin served as head of White House legislative affairs in the first term of the Clinton administration, before moving to K Street. He recently retired from his position at the firm Griffin, Johnson, Madigan, Peck, Dover and Stewart.


Obey-Wan Kenobi. Rep. David Obey (D-Wis.) is proving to be an important funnel to The Center for American Progress, John Podesta’s new liberal think tank.

Scott Lilly, Obey’s longtime Democratic staff director at the powerful Appropriations Committee, has become a senior fellow for government studies at the center. He recently left the House after 30 years on Capitol Hill.

Lilly joins David Sirota, Obey’s former spokesman, who now edits the center’s daily “Progress Report” — which provides talking points to Democratic surrogates.

Brody Mullins contributed to this report.