House Republicans were contemplating Wednesday what they might be up against with Rep. Rahm Emanuel (Ill.) now chairing the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. And many of them were surprised to hear what Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) had to say about Emanuel’s past.
Speaking to the GOP Conference, Blunt said some nice things about Emanuel — that he’s smart, politically savvy, qualified for the job and all that.
[IMGCAP(1)] Then he zeroed in on what he apparently thinks could be a real turn off to Red Staters: Emanuel’s history as — gasp! — a ballet dancer.
“This may be helpful in some districts — Rahm was in ballet in college,” Blunt said. The comment was received with the good humor it was intended, but many Republicans in the room were surprised (and maybe a little uncomfortable) to learn that Emanuel could literally dance circles around them.
“A lot of people didn’t know about it,” Blunt’s spokeswoman, Burson Taylor, told HOH. And she added that the Democrats will “need someone with a mean plié to pirouette their way into first position” in the next Congress.
DCCC spokesman Greg Speed says that’s exactly what’s going to happen. “We’re not sure why Roy Blunt is so fixated on extracurricular activities,” he said, “But Congressman Emanuel has just taken up a new hobby, sending several of Blunt’s colleagues waltzing right out of Congress in 2006.”
HOH would caution anyone who is snickering about Emanuel’s dancing tights and slippers to think twice before making him mad. The former Clinton aide is known to have a tough side: He once sent a dead fish to a political consultant who crossed him.
More After-Schrocks. Some aides to former Rep. Ed Schrock (R-Va.), who announced his retirement in August after allegations surfaced that he solicited men for sex on gay telephone dating services, were left in a vulnerable situation this week. They found out that their health insurance and school loan benefits would end Jan. 31, and that they would not receive the pro-rated paycheck for January that they say was promised them by Schrock’s former chief of staff.
The staffers insist they were originally told they would get a small paycheck in January — for the two days before the start of the 109th Congress — and that their health insurance benefits would continue through March 2.
But when one of the staffers called the House human resources office this week to find out how much her two-day paycheck would amount to so she could determine whether it would cover her February health insurance premium, she was told there would be no paycheck. Nor would there be any health insurance at all in February. Nor would she be getting her $500 monthly student loan benefit for January.
“But I have doctors’ appointments next month. Oh my God! My prescription coverage is going to run out. Everything is going to run out,” the former aide told HOH, nearly in tears.
While some former Schrock aides took jobs elsewhere, others went to work for Schrock’s successor, Rep. Thelma Drake (R). Two of the aides are still unemployed.
The two former Schrock staffers who complained to HOH do not blame Schrock, who is now a staffer himself on the House Government Reform subcommittee on energy policy, natural resources and regulatory affairs.
But they did blame Tom Gordy, Schrock’s former chief of staff who now works for Drake. “It’s a commitment he made to us that he didn’t keep,” one aide said. The other said, “It’s now the 26th and people have four more days to figure out what they’re going to do for health insurance.”
When HOH called Gordy on Wednesday he said he was working to fix the problem, and he called later to say the problem was solved. “Everything has been squared away. All their benefits will go back to the way it was. There’s nothing they’ll miss out on,” he assured us.
Gordy explained that initially he didn’t want to deal with the paperwork and IRS headache of staff payroll for just two days in 2005. To make things easier, he decided to end pay on Dec. 31 “not realizing the benefits would be cut off.”
He added, “We have bent over backwards to take care of this staff. … I loved our staff. … Believe me, they were treated very well.”
Ford Dynasty Angst. One family member who surely will not be campaigning for Rep. Harold Ford Jr. (D-Tenn.) in the Congressman’s Senate quest will be his uncle, John Ford. That Ford, a Tennessee state Senator — and the brother of former Rep. Harold Ford Sr. (D-Tenn.) — is currently in the midst of a child support battle in a Nashville court. His defense: He pays bills for two separate homes splitting his time between two different women, one of whom had three of his children, the other who had two.
He’s also the butt of late-night jokes. As Jay Leno said Tuesday on “The Tonight Show”: “A [state] Senator from Tennessee, by the name of John Ford, a Democrat, is in court for child support and he revealed he lives with his divorced wife and their three kids three days a week. … He lives with his girlfriend and their two kids the other four days a week. He’s being sued by another girlfriend for child support and his ex-wife is pregnant by him again. But the good news, today he was given the Jerry Springer lifetime achievement award.”
Kuropas Who? One of President Bush’s delegates sent to Ukraine’s presidential inauguration last week stirred controversy when Knight-Ridder reported that the man is a Ukrainian-American activist and professor whose views have been construed as anti-
The professor, Myron Kuropas, is an adjunct lecturer at Northern Illinois University in Chicago. Knight-Ridder reported that the professor’s inclusion in the delegation “appeared to be an embarrassment for the White House” and that his presence in the delegation was “greeted with dismay by several U.S. officials and Jewish-American leaders.”
The big question Wednesday was: Who invited him to join the delegation? Some (red) bloodthirsty Democrats were hoping it was Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.). They found — and HOH confirmed — that Kuropas had donated substantially to Hastert’s campaigns over the years. But Hastert spokesman John Feehery said the Speaker didn’t even know Kuropas. And he certainly didn’t invite the man to attend the delegation to Ukraine, Feehery said.
Kuropas told HOH in a telephone interview Wednesday that he was invited by the State Department to attend the Ukrainian inauguration.
He said that his comments on Jews and the Holocaust were “taken out of context” and that he was “devastated” by the bad press. He explained that he has won an award from the American Jewish Committee “for being a bridge builder. Anti-Semites don’t do that.”
He blamed partisan politics for the smear campaign, saying, “I’m known in Republican circles.” While Hastert may not know him, former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole (R-Kan.) should. Kuropas said he worked as a legislative assistant to Dole in 1977. “I was a liaison to the Helsinki Committee,” Kuropos said. The professor, who was born and raised in Chicago, says he also worked as a special assistant to President Gerald Ford.
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