Republicans for Reid

Posted June 6, 2005 at 6:55pm

It may sound like a headline from The Onion but the news is true: Two longtime Republicans are throwing a fundraiser for Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, the Democratic “obstructionist” from Nevada.

Jessica Marventano and Robert Fisher, two lobbyists for Clear Channel, the mostly conservative radio conglomerate, are hosting a breakfast on Monday, June 13, at Charlie Palmer Steak on Capitol Hill. The invitation lists Marventano, the head of Clear Channel’s Washington, D.C., office, and Fisher, the company’s Senate lobbyist, as the hosts, but the fundraiser is being held “on behalf of” the Clear Channel political action committee, according to company spokesman Travis Larson.

[IMGCAP(1)] Clear Channel had no further comment on the fundraiser. But sources close to the event dismissed the notion that a fundraiser thrown by Republicans for the Democratic leader of the Senate amid one of the most acrimonious, partisan periods in history is anything other than normal. (Insert guffaws here.)

But some other Washington lobbyists were quite surprised to hear about the Clear Channel event.

“It has to be a misprint. Or Hell has frozen over. Who’s doing that?” one K Street lobbyist asked in an e-mail to HOH. Another lobbyist, a Democrat, said he “would describe it as unusual but not unprecedented.” Another said, “I can’t remember anything like this ever happening.”

Reid’s office is soaking up the newfound love being bestowed upon the Nevada Democrat.

“What happens in Vegas doesn’t always stay in Vegas,” said Reid spokeswoman Rebecca Kirszner without an ounce of irony, of course. “Harry Reid has had the support of Republicans in Nevada for years and now we know he has the support of Republicans in D.C. as well.”

Another Stem-Cell Spat. Rep. Dave Weldon (R-Fla.) is disputing a spinal-cord injury patient’s claim that the Congressman used her image without permission during the recent stem-cell debate in the House.

According to Wired magazine, Susan Fajt, who had adult stem-cell surgery after suffering a spinal-cord injury in a 2001 car accident, sent a letter to Weldon seeking an apology.

During the May 24 House debate, Weldon, who is a physician, went to the floor and spoke out against embryonic stem-cell research. He held up a huge picture of Fajt and said, “This poster is of a young lady who was paralyzed for years and had an adult stem-cell transplant.”

Fajt expressed outrage over Weldon’s speech in an interview with Wired. She told the magazine, “If Weldon wouldn’t have used me and said a cure is going to be found with adult stem-cell research, embryonic stem-cell research may have been federally funded.”

Weldon insists that Fajt gave him permission to use her image.

“The only reason Congressman Weldon referred to Miss Fajt’s photograph during debate was because Miss Fajt herself gave the Congressman permission to do so during a meeting with him, his staff and her parents in his office,” Weldon spokeswoman Jaillene Hunter told HOH. “The Congressman’s one-sentence statement in reference to Miss Fajt is completely consistent with her own testimony before the United States Senate. Since her position apparently has changed, the Congressman will no longer refer to her or her photograph in the future.”

In the Name of Love. Reporting on Irish rocker Bono’s latest trip to Washington was largely consumed by news coverage of his lunch with fellow boot aficionado Condaleezza Rice, the secretary of State. So most folks probably aren’t aware that the U2 frontman also met with Reid (does the Minority Leader wear boots?) just before lawmakers split town for a week-long Memorial Day recess.

Everyone in Reid’s office went gaga over perhaps the world’s most famous rock star. Well, everyone that is except Reid, who seemed slightly dubious of Bono’s role as a lobbyist for the Bush administration’s commitment to fight global AIDS.

While his staffers fawned over Bono, Reid, in his typical no-nonsense Nevadan fashion, had a wee bit of advice for the rock star: Don’t be a water boy for the White House.

Actually, according to one well-placed source, Reid told Bono not to “let the White House use him.” Not missing a beat, Bono replied, “Well, I’m not a cheap date.”

Sigh. HOH will start saving.

Par-tay! Rock the Vote, aka the “youth voter” mobilization effort, is throwing a killer shindig this week. The organization is honoring former President Bill Clinton and Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Barack Obama (D-Ill.) for their efforts in getting young folks to be more politically active.

Too bad Clinton won’t be there, ’cause for people who hate to miss parties, it sounds like this should appear on the “don’t miss” list. (Because of travel conflicts, Clinton will address the crowd via video.) Sexpot soulstress Nikka Costa will perform at Rock the Vote’s first anniversary awards dinner at the National Building Museum. And at the after-party at Dream nightclub in Northeast Washington, the Black Eyed Peas, as well as Costa, are set to perform.

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