Boozy Block Party

Posted February 9, 2005 at 6:41pm

The 100 block of D Street Southeast should be renamed Frat Row.

That’s where Reps. Chris Chocola (R-Ind.), Clay Shaw (R-Fla.), Nancy Johnson (R-Conn.) and Mark Foley (R-Fla.) are planning a major boozefest to get their donors liquored up. Once they are, they will do what any grown-up frat boy-turned-politician does to his drunk, vulnerable guests: take advantage of them.

The upcoming April 5 “D Street Block Party” isn’t your typical $10 hot dog, cherry Coke and warm beer neighborhood bash. It’s a fundraiser for GOP members who sit on very powerful committees.[IMGCAP(1)]

The block party will feature margaritas with Chocola for $1,000 per person, bourbon tasting with Shaw for $500 a person or $1,000 per PAC, martinis with Johnson for $1,000 a person, and wine tasting with Foley for $1,000 a person.

Since all four of the Members live within a few doors of each other, this block party will be a lobbyist’s dream.

“The PACs really love it. They can go hit four Members — three of them on the Ways and Means Committee — all within 15 minutes,” Todd Meredith, a fundraiser for Foley and Johnson, told HOH.

Meredith said the D Street Block Party is becoming an institution. “Our goal is one day to be able to close down the entire block of D Street,” he said.

That idea won’t go over so well with some neighbors, especially the grungy libs who live in the infamous Animal House on the same block. That’s the group house inhabited by Reps. George Miller (D-Calif.) and Bill Delahunt (D-Mass.) and Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.).

While Foley uncorks his Bordeaux and Johnson shakes her Grey Goose martini, these guys undoubtedly will be swigging stale Pepsi.

Not that they’re going to try to shut down their GOP neighbors’ block party or anything. But they may try to come up with a clever, if passive-aggressive, way of crashing it.

“The members of that house are nice guys and pretty entrepreneurial,” said Durbin spokesman Joe Shoemaker. “I wouldn’t be surprised to see them put up a sign for free munchies.”

Then he quickly added, “Well, not free. Maybe $500 for a bag of pretzels.”

Hell’s Bells. House votes deterred Members from absolving their sins on Ash Wednesday: Several Members were on their way to Mass when the dreaded roll call bells went off.

Freshman Rep. John Salazar (D-Colo.), a Catholic, was among them. He tried twice on Wednesday morning to receive his ashes but got called away for votes. He had to leave the noon service at St. Joseph’s.

He planned to try again for the quickie five-minute service in the Capitol at 5 p.m., but as Salazar said, “Five minutes in church isn’t enough to absolve most politicians of their sins. I go to church every Sunday.”

House Chaplain Daniel Coughlin, a Roman Catholic priest, distributed ashes to some Members on Wednesday, though he wouldn’t say which ones. But he said he was “disappointed” that House votes interrupted Members’ plans to receive their ashes, which he said is worn as a “badge of courage.”

Coughlin told HOH that he called one of the Cloakrooms early Wednesday to inquire about votes and was told there would not be a vote until about 3 p.m. “Then within 20 minutes they called for a vote,” he sighed.

But the early bird Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas), who is Episcopalian, didn’t miss a thing. He went at 7 a.m. to St. Mark’s Episcopal Church to get his ashes, his spokesman Michelle Stein told us.

Helmet Head. Today will be a humbling, humiliating day for Rep. Robert Brady (D-Pa.). He made his bed, and now he must lie in it.

The outrageous Super Bowl bet he made with Rep. Marty Meehan (D-Mass.) has come back to haunt him. Since his beloved Eagles lost to the Patriots, Brady will have to wear an official New England helmet all day today, all over Capitol Hill.

“I think he has to wear it everywhere,” Brady’s chief of staff, Stanley White, told us.

The wager was Brady’s idea. If the Eagles won, Meehan would wear Brady’s souvenir helmet, which was once worn by Eagle Jevon Kearse. If the Patriots won, Brady would wear a Patriots helmet. Brady placed the bet with confidence that the Eagles would finally win its first-ever Super Bowl trophy.

But Brady will be the helmet head today, not Meehan. “He’s almost physically ill,” White said of his boss.

The two Members are expected to appear together on CNN’s “Crossfire” today to discuss what Meehan spokesman Matt Vogel called “the Eagles’ terrible clock management in the final minutes of the game.”

But Vogel said Meehan is “feeling generous in victory” and is promising not to humiliate Brady too much.

Gannon Controversy. Former aides to ex-Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) were among those cheering Wednesday’s abrupt resignation of reporter Jeff Gannon from Talon News, a Web site affiliated with the conservative-activist site GOPUSA.

Gannon, whose name is a pseudonym, prompted controversy by asking a softball question at a recent briefing with President Bush. His appearance in the White House press room raised eyebrows in journalism circles and led to his outing by bloggers as a GOP operative.

The media watchdog group Media Matters for America said Wednesday that its review of Gannon found that his stories “often consist of little more than reprints of Republican talking points, and that Talon News itself is more of a partisan political organization than a news outlet.”

Gannon’s Web site Wednesday left this message for readers: “The voice goes silent. Because of the attention being paid to me I find it is no longer possible to effectively be a reporter for Talon News. In consideration of the welfare of me and my family I have decided to return to private life.”

Daschle aides are elated because Gannon wrote extensively about the South Dakota Senate race, and former Daschle aides claim that the writer was essentially carrying water for Sen. John Thune’s (R-S.D.) successful campaign. Gannon fired away at everything linked to Daschle’s campaign, even writing a spate of articles attacking the dean of the state’s political writers, Sioux Falls Argus-Leader columnist Dave Kranz, for allegedly shilling for Daschle.

“He and Thune’s campaign worked hand in hand,” said one former Daschle aide. “This guy became a dumping ground for opposition research.”

Thune’s office did not respond for comment by press time.

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