Washingtonienne Hits the Hill

Posted July 9, 2004 at 6:55pm

Capitol Hill’s naughtiest, most notorious web blogger, Jessica Cutler — aka Washingtonienne — was spotted outside the Capitol last week flirting with a K-9 officer and petting his German shepherd police dog.

A very reliable source says Cutler told the officer she was running “errands” that day. “I’m always running errands,” she told him. [IMGCAP(1)]

Or maybe, HOH can’t help but wonder, she could have been visiting “friends” around campus who, according to her weblog, sometimes helped her make ends meet on her meagerly $25,000-a-year salary in exchange for, um, favors. Her writing about her encounters with (often married) men both in and out of government is pretty much what got her fired as a staff assistant to Sen. Mike DeWine (R-Ohio) in May.

Or perhaps she was seeking inspiration for the autobiographical novel she’s writing about the diary of a not-so-typical (we hope) young female staffer. “Washingtonienne” is due to be published sometime next year by Hyperion Publishing, according to Cutler’s agent, Pilar Queen of Carlisle and Co., in New York, where Cutler grew up.

Or maybe — and please pause while HOH has an anxiety attack — Cutler, 26, was on the Hill last Wednesday morning retracing her steps from the titillating photo shoot she did the week before on the grounds of the Capitol! That’s what we’re told by folks in the know. On July 1, Cutler posed “around Capitol Hill,” a source said, for a (presumably clothed) portion of the photo spread she’s doing for the November election issue of Playboy.

And there she was, nearly a week after the photo shoot, “looming” around the Capitol, as one source put it, chatting up a police officer. Washingtonienne and the officer talked outside the House, near the driveway off Independence Avenue. Cutler was drinking a Starbucks coffee, wearing blue and white checked pants and a white tank top. Sans bra, we’re told.

“On my life,” said the eyewitness, a young female staffer, sounding exasperated and none too pleased about seeing the braless blogger.

But the officer, who, incidentally, was not familiar with Cutler or her nom de blog Washingtonienne, didn’t seem offended. He and Cutler chatted for several minutes.

“You look familiar,” the officer said.

“I used to work up here but I got fired,” responded Cutler, who still lives in Washington, although in May she told HOH that she might move back to New York because, as she put it, “I don’t think I can get a job anywhere in this town for a long time.”

Then Cutler asked if the officer’s dog was “nice” and said, “If not, I can win him over.” (But we’re not sure the dog was carrying his wallet.)

K.O. In Radio-TV Gallery. Well, we’d always heard that the most dangerous place to be in Washington was between a camera and Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.). But we thought that old saying was just a joke!

Until, of course, we saw C-SPAN’s and CNN’s footage of the sensational, if brief, fight that erupted Thursday after a news conference in the Senate Radio-Television Gallery between New York Post reporter Vince Morris, a strapping 6 foot 3 inch, 200-pound 38-year-old hunk, and CBS cameraman P.G. Cuong, a much, much (we can’t put enough muches here) shorter and slightly less hunky 50-something-year-old.

Morris kept blocking Cuong’s clear shot of Schumer and Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) at their news conference about who-knows-what. This is nothing unusual. Cameramen and still photographers have always been known to get a little testy when reporters get in their way, especially those pesky print scribes who don’t understand the first thing about getting good sound or pictures (It is the “Radio-TV” gallery after all).

It all started politely. On C-SPAN footage, you can see Cuong tapping Morris on the shoulder and gesturing for him to get out the way. And you can see Morris frowning incredulously, waving Cuong off with his open hand. Morris tried to move to the side and give CBS a clear shot, but still, Morris’ head was blocking Clinton. So Cuong zoomed in on the Senators and did get his clear shot.

Apparently, though, he has some pent-up frustration. And, apparently, so did Morris, who has a new baby at his house keeping him up at nights and whose newspaper last week blared the big “scoop” snafu of the century about Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) choosing Rep. Richard Gephardt (D-Mo.) as a running mate.

After the news conference ended and the Senators left the gallery, Cuong walked up to an unsuspecting Morris, stood on the riser that Mikulski, who is a little bit shorter than Cuong, always uses at her press conferences, and grabbed Morris by the back of the neck.

“You a–hole,” Cuong yelled. “You blocked the shot. You a–hole!”

A wild-eyed, steamy Morris whipped around and yelled back at Cuong: “What are you talking about? You’re crazy.”

“No, you crazy,” Cuong shot back, as he lunged again — from his step stool — for Morris, putting his hands around Morris’s neck.

And this is the part where Morris loses it.

“Wait! Did you just hit me?” Morris yelled. And then he just charged Cuong, shoving the cameraman back about 10 feet, over several chairs that were sent tumbling around the gallery.

There were lots of “Oh my Gods” and “Whoa, whoa, whoas!” in the room as Morris stormed out. And Cuong didn’t go chasing after him. “Hey, man. It’s not worth it,” another guy said to Cuong.

One eyewitness who is familiar with Gallery policies and who knows both Cuong and Morris told HOH that both men were at fault.

Even HOH has been yelled and pushed aside by photographers and cameramen for blocking their shots during news conferences. We’re busy and stressed out on deadlines and it just happens.

But since the yellin’ turned to shovin’ in this case, the Executive Committee of Correspondents of the Radio-Television Gallery is deciding what to do. The group has scheduled a meeting for 1 p.m. today to “go over the situation,” according to Dave McConnell of WTOP radio and chairman of the committee.

“It’s best for all of us to cooperate when we gather the news here. And for the most part we do… . It’s unfortunate when people get a little bit aggressive,” McConnell said.

For what it’s worth, a panel of judges at Roll Call who watched the big fight on screen have declared Morris the champion.

Dems Go Ape Over Weller Wedding. One day Rep. Jerry Weller (R-Ill.) announces that he’s found the love of his life. The next, he’s being castigated for it by Democrats. All because Weller’s fiance’s father reportedly is a notorious former dictator in Guatemala accused of having a lengthy record of human rights violations.

First, Weller’s campaign opponent, Democratic nominee Tari Renner, put out a statement saying Weller shows “questionable judgment” by “aligning himself with the family of one of the 20th century’s most hideous dictators.”

Weller is marrying Guatemalan Congresswoman Zury Rios Sosa in what would be the first ever inter-parliamentary wedding between a U.S. lawmaker and one from overseas.

Renner, in her statement, quoted Frank Boyd, a professor of Latin American studies at Illinois Wesleyan University as calling the Weller’s future father-in-law, former Guatemalan Army Gen. Jose Effrain Rios Montt, the “most brutal dictator of the 1980s” and the “Slobodan Milosevic of Guatemala.” According to the Chicago Tribune, Montt is currently under investigation for war crimes.

Renner also attached excerpts of published newspaper accounts about the former general and accounts in which Weller’s fiance defends her father as having been unfairly maligned and delivers fiery speeches on behalf of the former dictator’s presidential campaign.

Now Weller is the one who feels maligned.

After Weller’s Democratic opponent took shots at him, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee followed up with a press release which blared: “Should Jerry Weller Serve on the International Relations Committee?”

The DCCC release questions whether Weller should be allowed to continue to serve on the committee and, more precisely, on the Western Hemisphere subcommittee, when he’s marrying into the family of Jose Effrain Rios Montt whose tenure, the release said, “the State Department declared ‘the most violent period’ of Guatemala’s 36-year Civil War?”

Weller, who said he plans to marry “sometime after the election,” said his serving on the International Relations Committee is “no more a conflict than a farmer who serves on the House Agriculture Committee or a lawyer on the Judiciary Committee.”

He said the DCCC’s attacks are “wrong and mean-spirited” and that his fiance, who he describes as his “soul mate” and “best friend” is one of Guatemala’s “most admired women by the people of her country.”

As for Renner, Weller said she is just trying to “take something beautiful and turn it ugly.”

As for the DCCC, he said, “Frankly, they owe my fiance an apology.”

HOH had already made this point. But if anyone needs to be concerned about Rios Sosa’s daddy, it’s Jerry Weller!