Hot Ticket

Posted March 7, 2005 at 6:47pm

Americans for Tax Reform President and formerly confirmed bachelor Grover Norquist is getting married April 2 at an undisclosed location in Virginia. (Gotta keep the paparazzi away, after all.) He and his fiancée, Samah Alrayyes, went to the same high school in Weston, Mass., though they did not become sweethearts until recently. Norquist is 48. Alrayyes, who works for the foreign aid agency USAID, is 31.

Former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), a longtime Norquist confidant, was one of the first invited guests to RSVP “yes.” Reps. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) and Ed Royce (R-Calif.) have also said they’ll attend. Norquist described the wedding as a “modest” affair.

The lovebirds will be honeymooning in the Seychelles but not until two weeks after their wedding. First, they have to attend the National Rifle Association board meeting in Houston.

Norquist, who sits on the NRA’s board, said he met his wife-to-be, who sources say is gorgeous, in those legendary “GOP circles.”

“She’s a good Republican,” Norquist told HOH. “And she’s a very good shot.”

Off the Record. Rep. Jim Gibbons (R-Nev.), who apologized last week for plagiarizing a speech in which he derided “Birkenstock-wearing, hippie, tie-dyed liberals,” has since removed that and all other speeches from his Congressional Web site.

Gibbons’ spokeswoman, Amy Spanbauer, told HOH that the content was removed from the Congressman’s Web site because “we are working to make our site printer-friendly throughout. We hope to have all technical issues resolved soon.”

During his speech in Elko, Gibbons said all those tree huggers would be put death at the hands of Saddam Hussein or Osama bin Laden. He said of those who wanted to go to Iraq to volunteer as human shields, “it’s just too damn bad we didn’t buy them a ticket.”

In a letter to the editor of the Lahontan Valley News this past weekend, Gibbons clarified that what he meant was that “if they wanted to be human shields, they should shield our soldiers and citizens, who have earned and deserve shielding.”

The Elko Daily Free Press discovered last week that Gibbons’ speech in Elko was plagiarized from a copyrighted speech delivered in 2003 by Alabama Auditor Beth Chapman.

The Great Gretzky. Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.) is pulling out all the stops to attract donors to a fundraiser Wednesday night. She’s offering top donors a chance to hug her and get a picture taken with the Congresswoman and her famous cat, Gretzky.

A hug and a photo-op with Sanchez and Gretzky will cost $5,000. For $2,500, Sanchez jokes that donors will be allowed to join the “We like you a little Loretta club.”

As the Orange County Register reported, “You can still get a picture, but only if you hold the cat. For a thousand bucks, contributors only get to eat the food.”

Sanchez’s kitty has become famous across the Capitol. The newspaper quoted Danny O’Brien, chief of staff to Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Del.), as saying, “We call him the Gretzkinator.”

Gretzky, a big, fluffy, white cat, is the centerpiece of Sanchez’s Christmas cards. One year, according to the Register, he was “featured in a convertible wearing designer sunglasses. Last year he posed with his mistress on a holiday mantel.”

Sanchez is delighted with Gretzky’s celebrity status. “You would be amazed at how many phone calls I got the one year he wasn’t on my holiday card,” she told HOH. “He’s met many of his California fans, but this will be his first face time with his East Coast fan club.”

Democrats Become Foodies. Democrats have finally had enough of the soggy (tofu) club sandwich with stale potato chips. For the first time in more than a decade, the National Democratic Club has hired a chef, a real chef, an executive chef named Tony Hang.

He comes to the club from the State Plaza Hotel in Foggy Bottom, where he served as head chef. Before that, Hang was the sous chef at the Culinaire International at the National Gallery of Art.

His eclectic menu includes an amazing array of fresh and creative salads, Atlantic salmon, pan-Pacific grilled chicken, filet mignon, grilled fennel-crusted pork chops, Carolina catfish, New England sea scallops, crawfish etouffée, roasted prime rib and, of course, the signature “Wilson” burger with American cheese. And, yes, the Democratic club serves french fries and other things that HOH would not mention in the company of certain Republican leaders, including French onion soup and French brie en croute.

Democratic lobbyist Tom Jolly, of Jolly Rissler, Inc., is still in shock over the club’s facelift. “Now we can actually take our clients there!” he laughed.

“We are eating so well now we can hardly believe we’re Democrats,” said Jim Zoia, the club’s president, who also serves as the Democratic staff director for the House Resources Committee.

Hmmm, sounds like a challenge. Is there an “Iron Chef Capitol Hill” in the offing?

Please send your hot tips, juicy gossip or comments to hoh@rollcall.com.