Some members of the Congressional Black Caucus were raising their eyebrows at the planned entertainment at this week’s annual CBC Foundation conference.
While the event is drawing such major stars as Democratic presidential hopeful John Kerry and running mate John Edwards, as well as Sean “P. Diddy” Combs and Bill Cosby, one performer whose name was circulated is stirring outrage: R. Kelly, who is facing child pornography charges for allegedly videotaping sex acts with a 14-year-old girl.
[IMGCAP(1)] After several sources told HOH that R. Kelly was scheduled to perform, a CBC spokeswoman said, “He is not going to be able to make it, which makes this a moot issue.” Kelly was not listed as a scheduled performer on the group’s Web site.
She said Kelly’s name was “floated and we decided to go with other entertainers” instead.
Another source suggested that someone in the Illinois delegation must have invited Kelly, what with Kelly hailing from Chicago. But Rep. Danny Davis (D-Ill.) initially told HOH that R. Kelly performing was probably just a rumor.
“I know I wouldn’t have invited him,” Davis said, and pointed out that it probably wasn’t Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) who invited Kelly either. “Bobby Rush is a preacher!” Davis pointed out.
But another CBC member heard from event organizers as late as Wednesday afternoon that R. Kelly was still scheduled to perform. And the member wasn’t happy about it.
“First Michael Jackson, now this?” the CBC member said. “What are we, the society for accused child molesters?”
And later, Davis called to say he checked around and heard that R. Kelly was, in fact, scheduled to perform at the dinner.
“It surprises the hell out of me,” Davis said. “Had I been doing the inviting, R. Kelly would not have been on my list. I just really don’t know what the rationale was.”
Gingrey Dodges Lawsuit. First-term Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.) is one of those docs President Bush has been talking about — or stumbling about, as was the case on Tuesday. Gingrey, an obstetrician who delivered babies for 26 years before becoming a lawmaker, returned to Capitol Hill this week after fending off a malpractice lawsuit.
A state judge in Cobb County, Ga., dismissed the case against Gingrey, saying he and two of his former OB/GYN partners were not responsible for a patient’s miscarriage after her appendicitis went undiagnosed.
“I am so glad to have this behind me,” Gingrey told HOH. After the case was thrown out Thursday, Gingrey hopped on a plane to New York to watch Bush accept the Republican Party’s nomination for a second term. Lo and behold, in his speech, Bush spoke about a need for tort reform and referred specifically to obstetricians.
“I kept thinking, ‘Does he know I’m sitting over here?’” Gingrey said, in awe that he had just left a courtroom where he was battling his own medical malpractice suit only to wind up hours later at Madison Square Garden listening to the president rant about the seeming epidemic. “’Cause every time I see [Bush] he says, ‘How’s things going, Doc? Hang in there. We’re going to get you some relief.”
But Gingrey said he didn’t think Bush was aware of the lawmaker’s personal experience, which he said has consumed him throughout his entire first term in the House.
“It was a major distraction from my Congressional responsibilities. … It was painful. It’s a great relief to be out from under that,” he said. (At least for the meantime. No word yet on whether the plaintiff plans to appeal.)
Gingrey said he doesn’t believe the suit against him was frivolous, but that it should have been directed at the hospital and surgeons who treated the patient — too late, he said — for her appendicitis. Rest assured, Gingrey will be using his personal malpractice experience to push for tort reform.
Bush worries about that, too. During a stump speech in Missouri on Tuesday, Bush said, “We’ve got an issue in America: Too many good docs are getting out of business.” Then, uttering yet another malapropism, Bush added: “Too many OB/GYNs aren’t able to practice their love with women all across the country.”
Asked about the provocative flub, Gingrey joked, “I’m OK with doctors being sued for that.”
John Thune: Eat Your Heart Out. If Sen. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) likes good food and powerful women, he’ll be in his happy place tonight. A who’s who of Washington women are throwing a bash for the Senator tonight at the home of Democratic public relations mavens Tony and Heather Miller Podesta.
The “women for Tom,” as their invitation reads, can relax, drink some wine, flirt with their favorite Senator and, best of all, enjoy some home Italian cooking by the Podesta brothers — Tony and John, the Clintonite who founded the Center for American Progress.
Daschle and his generous donors can expect a little maiale tonnato, a pork dish, and poached chicken with lemon basil dressing from chef John. Chef Tony will be making an arugula salad with blood oranges and fennel, carrots with lemon zest and garlic, and assorted roasted veggies. (And unlike some unnamed master chefs at highbrow restaurants, John does not cook his vegetables in meat stock, sister-in-law Heather told HOH.
“Of course, Tony’s the better chef,” she said.
That family dispute aside, Women for Tom say they plan to raise $50,000 tonight — a hefty goal considering the stiff competition: Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) is the attraction at a Democratic National Committee fundraiser across the street.
“This is the place to be,” Ms. Podesta bragged. “It’s all about the food.”
And the women. Besides Linda Daschle, others on the host list include: Kim Dorgan, wife of Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.); Debbie Dingell, wife of Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.); Nancy Zirkin, a women’s civil rights leader; Winnie Stachelberg, new head of the Human Rights Campaign; Hilary Rosen, a volunteer at HRC and former head of the Recording Industry Association of America; Susie Turnbull, who heads the Women’s Leadership Forum at the DNC; and many others.
Dinner will be served by a slew of former Daschle staffers. Joel Johnson will be head waiter, Larry Stein the busboy and Mark Patterson the bartender. (And no drinking allowed on the job. Orders of Ms. Podesta.)
Erin P. Billings contributed to this report.