Without a Paddle — Er, an Ore

Posted June 17, 2005 at 6:30pm

Rep. Don Sherwood (R-Pa.) is still married and living with his wife, according to a spokesman, despite a multimillion-dollar lawsuit filed by a Rockville, Md., woman who alleges that Sherwood beat her several times during a five-year romantic relationship. [IMGCAP(1)]

The lawsuit, filed by Cynthia Mirella Ore last Wednesday in Superior Court of the District of Columbia, seeks $5.5 million in compensatory and punitive damages and accuses the Congressman of assault and battery and “intentional infliction of emotional distress.”

Ore, 29, alleges that Sherwood “repeatedly and violently” abused her, including hitting her on her “face, neck, chest and back,” pulling her hair and “repeatedly choking and attempting to strangle” her with his hands.

Sherwood’s lawyer, Bobby Burchfield, declined to say how he and his client would proceed. Counting from the time it was filed, they have 20 days to answer the lawsuit. But Burchfield told HOH in an interview that they would not consider settling out of court for “anywhere close to the amounts” Ore has demanded. He said if she insists on “pursuing litigation on those terms, then I suspect it will be resolved at trial.”

Burchfield said the Congressman “emphatically denies that he ever physically abused Ms. Ore.” The lawyer also pointed out that police who responded to Ore’s now-infamous 911 call from Sherwood’s apartment on Sept.15, 2004, never charged the Congressman with anything. “We think the case has no factual merit whatsoever,” he said.

Sherwood is only admitting to giving Ore a back rub — a costly one if the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has its way. DCCC aides say they plan to make an issue of the sordid incident, and now the lawsuit, in Sherwood’s re-election campaign. But to date, the DCCC has released no names of potential candidates to challenge Sherwood, and the district was drawn to be safe for a Republican.

Ali G, Punk’d! Gotta hate it when somebody else beats you at your own game. But that’s apparently what happened last week to Sacha Baron Cohen, the outrageous and offensive comic who hosts HBO’s “Da Ali G Show,” who has tricked and embarrassed many an unsuspecting American politician, delighting his audience of mostly hip, young viewers (yes, like HOH, right?).

The office of Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) was contacted by a producer for California-based One America Productions who said the company was making a documentary about American democracy. Kingston agreed to give an interview.

But aides quickly suspected something fishy was going on. For one thing, the crew inexplicably freaked out when Kingston had to change the location of the interview from his personal office — which one crew member had already surveyed with a small mini-camera — to his leadership office in the Capitol.

“They started panicking, is the best way to describe it,” Kingston’s spokesman, David All, told HOH. All described the production crew of 12 as “strange, distant, awkward — not your typical film crew.”

So he started asking questions while he waited with them outside the Capitol as they waited for their “reporter” to show up. That’s when the cat came out of the bag: Someone with the production outfit mentioned that they had done work for “Da Ali G Show” and he described the reporter as “an immigrant from Kazakhstan traveling around the nation talking about democracy.”

Duh, All thought. He had seen (and enjoyed, we hope) plenty of Cohen’s outrageous character, Borat, a sexist, racist, whateverist Kazakh television reporter. So All figured the reporter they were waiting on must be Sacha Baron Cohen himself. All says when the crew realized he was on to them, one of the producers called the reporter, presumably Cohen, on his cell phone, had a brief conversation with him, hung up and then told All the interview with Kingston had to be rescheduled.

All went back to his desk and whipped off an e-mail to other GOP aides warning them: “You may get a call from Tim Schildberger, a producer identifying himself with One America Productions, regarding a documentary they are working on about America. We did. The production company could be a front production crew for a comedy show which runs on HBO called ‘Da Ali G Show.’”

The e-mail warning saved the day for Rep. Lee Terry (R-Neb.), who was also on the production company’s call list. (Darn that David All for ruining our fun!) Terry spokeswoman Jen Rae Hein, having seen All’s e-mail, played naïve when Schildberger called her. She agreed to let his production crew interview the Congressman, but she secretly planned a joke on the crew. She was going to have her boss turn to Ali G or Borat or whatever character he was playing and say, “‘Mr. Cohen! It’s nice to meet you.’” She said they were even going to have the Secret Service play along and pretend to arrest Cohen if, in fact, Cohen had anything to do with the production company.

But Schildberger pulled the plug on the interview, suspecting that Terry’s office may have been on to him. “He said I was ‘too sweet of a girl’ to pull one over on,” Rae told HOH. But Schildberger never admitted that he was with “Da Ali G Show” or involved in the making of the movie “Borat.”

Cohen, incidentally, was spotted downtown at last weekend’s gay pride parade posing as Borat and his photo quickly appeared on local blogs.

When HOH called Schildberger at a number provided by a Congressional aide he answered, “Tim here” in a thick British-sounding accent. When we inquired about “Borat” and “Da Ali G Show,” he said, “I’m very low on the totem poll. So let me just refer you to other people.”

Those people never called back. But they’d better regroup and figure out another way to trick Members into making tools of themselves. (Please, for all our sakes, figure something out!) As David All proudly said in his press release, “If you’re looking for someone to stick their own foot in their mouth, every ‘real’ reporter knows to call DNC Chairman Howard Dean.”

Now there’s an idea for Cohen!

Type O? From a Friday news release sent out by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.): “Pelosi Honors Nobel Piece Price Recipient Aung San Suu Kyi on Her 60th Birthday.”

Matthew Murray and Emily Pierce contributed to this report.

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