No Runaway Bride

Posted May 6, 2005 at 6:19pm

The mayor of Spokane, Wash., Jim West, who has admitted having relationships with adult men and visiting gay online chat rooms, said during one particular AOL chat fest that he would marry freshman Rep. Cathy McMorris (R-Wash.) if he were to go to the altar again, according to a newspaper report.

The Spokesman-Review, which broke the story of West’s gay relationships and exposed allegations that he molested two boys in the 1970s, ran a transcript on Friday of a chat between

West and a Spokesman-Review forensic consultant posing as a teenager online.

“If I thought I would marry again, I’d marry Cathy McMorris the congresswoman,” wrote West, using the screen name jmselton, an apparent reference to his name, James Elton West, according to a transcript in the Spokesman-Review.

“Is she nice?” the forensic consultant replied.

“Very and cute,” the mayor reportedly answered. “Sweet is more like it.”

Strange segue, but then the two chat room participants had explicit online sex. (And we mean explicit.)

While West might want to marry McMorris, the freshman Congresswoman apparently wants nothing to do with him. McMorris’ spokeswoman, Connie Partoyan, said of the online comment: “That’s a one-sided opinion. It’s like me saying, ‘If I could marry again, I’d marry Brad Pitt.’”

She described McMorris and West as “friends and colleagues” and said the Congresswoman, who worked with West in the statehouse, is “shocked and saddened by what she heard” about the West controversy “just like everyone else in Spokane.”

West has denied allegations that he molested boys in the ’70s, but he admitted in an e-mail to all city employees, “I have visited a gay chat line on the Internet and had relationships with adult men.” He apologized “for the shame I have brought to the mayor’s office and the city.”

Cinco de What? Hispanic Democratic staffers and aides to Democratic Hispanic Members were delighted to find a glaring mistake in a GOP outreach letter marking Cinco de Mayo.

At least the House Republican Conference knew that Cinco de Mayo meant May 5. And at least the GOP aides over there knew it was an excuse to drink margaritas and reach out to millions of potential Hispanic American voters. Unfortunately, though, they got the meaning of the holiday wrong. (But not as wrong as Democrats would have you believe.)

The GOP Conference created a sample press release saying, “Congressman ____________ today marked Cinco de Mayo with the following statement acknowledging the significance of the holiday of independence and of the ties between the United States and Mexico.”

That’s nice and all but, as Democratic aides were quick to point out, Cinco de Mayo is NOT Mexican Independence Day. That would be Diez y Seis de Septiembre, Sept. 16.

“I really don’t blame the poor Republicans,” said Matt Miller, spokesman for House Democratic Caucus Chairman Bob Menendez (N.J.). “It’s hard to spend 364 days ignoring Hispanics and then pop up for one day to throw back a Corona and celebrate the wrong holiday.”

But it is Democrats who stand corrected, according to GOP Conference spokesman Greg Crist: Republicans don’t drink Corona; They prefer Dos Equis. Furthermore, he pointed out, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said last year, “Cinco de Mayo represents freedom and self-determination for the people of Mexico, and it is a symbol of Mexican unity, patriotism and pride.”

“How is independence different than freedom and self-determination?” Crist asked.

If you’re wondering, Cinco de Mayo is actually a celebration of a victory by Mexican forces over the French at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. HOH lives to give.

Mr. Tight Jeans. Now we know firsthand why Rep. Butch Otter (R) easily won that “tight jeans” contest at a bar back home in Idaho in 1992. He should re-enter, ’cause 13 years later, those Wranglers are still leaving little to the imagination.

HOH spotted Otter wearing his painted-on denim and cowboy boots in the Speaker’s Lobby on Thursday afternoon after leaving the chamber (sans jacket and tie, ahem) for the final vote of the week. Heads turned as Otter nearly trotted — he couldn’t move his legs very well — through the lobby, clearly excited about a cowboy weekend out West that includes a little roping with the boys. Oh yeah, and maybe a little campaigning for that gubernatorial race he’s involved in.

“He’s clearly headed home. He’s obviously had it with these stuffed shirts and Washington lobbyists,” noted Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.) as he watched his colleague gallop by. In a deep, husky voice, Foley joked, “He’s a wrangler.”

Foley, incidentally, in stark contrast to Otter, stood there in the Speaker’s Lobby looking like a page out of GQ magazine, wearing a gorgeous Joseph Abboud suit, a bright Turnbull and Asser tie, a pink Ralph Lauren shirt with matching handkerchief, Cole Hahn shoes and, of course, a Rolex watch. “Come on, I come from Palm Beach. I gotta look the part,” he said.

But enough of the glamour — HOH couldn’t stop thinking about Otter’s skin-tight Wranglers. How in the world did he get them on? And how in the heck can he climb on a horse in those things?

“Denim is a very flexible material,” replied Otter’s spokesman, Mark Warbis, in a telephone chat later. “That’s what all cowboys do — they wear their jeans tight. It’s not for a fashion statement. You don’t want a bunch of loose material hanging around.”

Well, maybe in Idaho. Other cowboys from other Western states are over the tight jeans thing.

“While a well worn pair of original fit Wranglers is a staple in the West, there’s no longer any shame in admitting it’s time for the relaxed fit,” said an aide to a Western Congressman. “We’re very open-minded out here.”

Sherwood Update. Cynthia Ore, the woman who called police on Rep. Don Sherwood (R-Pa.), has now hired an attorney, according to the Times Leader newspaper of Wilkes-Barre, Pa. Ore, 29, also claimed to the paper that Washington, D.C., police have refused to give her a copy of her 911 call.

“Who would you help, a young girl or a Member of Congress?” Ore asked in an interview with the Times Leader. “He lives in the Hill House so they knew. It’s mostly Congressmen and also Senators.”

Ore called 911 from Sherwood’s apartment on Sept. 15 saying, according to the police report, that he “choked her for no apparent reason.” Sherwood denies the accusation and says he was only giving her a back rub. Police did not charge Sherwood. They said both parties were unwilling to discuss what actually happened and that Ore “did not seem to be of sound mind.”

Sherwood issued a statement last week apologizing “for the pain and embarrassment I have caused my family and supporters.”

Erin P. Billings contributed to this report.

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