Smallest Fundraiser Ever

Posted October 21, 2005 at 6:48pm

Call it the dive bar of fundraisers. On Wednesday, Rep. Tom Feeney (R-Fla.) will be holding an event at his bare, dingy, 500-square-foot Capitol Hill efficiency — a space famous for its lack of style, comfort and anything remotely refined.

Feeney’s crappy crib, located in Southeast just behind his favorite dive, the Hawk ’n’ Dove, was first glamorized in The New York Times magazine in 2003. That piece, and another in the Orlando Sentinel, painted a portrait of a “crash pad” devoid of everything but a futon-and-bunk-bed combo and a fridge stocked with Budweiser, Diet Coke, Oreos, crackers and E-Z Cheese (pizza flavor). [IMGCAP(1)]

The self-deprecating Feeney now hopes to cash in on his minimalist, if not-quite-indie, rap. The tongue-in-cheek invitation for Wednesday’s fundraiser asks donors to join the Florida Congressman for “a reception at his Washington Penthouse. … As seen in The New York Times magazine and the Orlando Sentinal” (sic).

“After being featured in The New York Times,” Feeney told HOH, “when people come up here from Orlando they want to see three things: They want to see the Washington Monument, they want to tour the Capitol and they want to visit Tom Feeney’s apartment.”

For $250 a piece, or $500 per political action committee, donors can hang out, drink Budweiser and Diet Coke, eat Ritz crackers and E-Z Cheese, and take turns sitting on the futon, which is pretty much the only seating he has.

“It’s becoming a historic landmark,” he declared. But unlike other famous Washington sites, Feeney doesn’t need permission from the National Park Service to hold a party.

The Congressman’s chief of staff, Jason Roe, and another aide will be dressed in tuxedos at the event, chivalrously ushering guests up to the penthouse as they arrive. And Feeney? “Out of respect for the newest of D.C.’s famous landmarks, I’m going to be wearing a tuxedo, too.”

The Powerballs That Be. Millionaire Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), who — as if he needed it! — won $853,492 in last week’s Powerball lottery, wasn’t the only Member of Congress who had a winning ticket.

True stuff. Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) and his staff won a whopping $4, which will be split nine ways, between the Congressman, seven staffers and an intern.

Jaime Harrison, Clyburn’s policy adviser and counsel, sent HOH an e-mail saying, “We just wanted to join Sen. Gregg in announcing our winnings.”

Harrison said they bought their lucky ticket at Capitol Hill Liquor and Deli on Pennsylvania Avenue Southeast. They thought long and hard about what wild things they might do with their winnings, but ultimately he said they decided, “We’re going to donate it to the intern.”

Who’s Who at U2. Maybe “Sunday Bloody Sunday” was the secret cue for VIPs to safely leave the MCI Center during both U2 concerts last week.

On Wednesday, our spies tell us, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) left 35 minutes into the concert during the band’s anthem “Sunday Bloody Sunday.” The next night, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley reportedly exited the concert during the very same song, after staying for about an hour.

At least the Minority Leader had fun. Asked what her favorite U2 song was, Pelosi told reporters, “I’m torn right now between ‘Elevation’ and ‘Vertigo.’” Pelosi was at the concert with an entourage that included her 8-year-old grandson Liam Kenneally, son of Jacqueline Kenneally, Pelosi’s third oldest daughter, who lives in Houston.

Some Members even managed to raise some cash while they were rocking out with Bono, including Rep. Mary Bono (R-Calif.), who knows a little something about music celebrityhood, and Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-Kan.), as well as Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and the rather unlikely rocker, Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.).

Bono, who long ago was known mostly for his music rather than his political activism, irked some in the audience by shouting out to the likes of Condi, Pelosi et al. Indeed, politics so permeated Thursday night’s concert that one concertgoer finally shouted, “Shut up about politics and play some rock.”

U2, Too. The next best thing to a politician, NBC News Bureau Chief Tim Russert, also had a rockin’ time of it at the Wednesday night U2 concert. One HOH informant, who will be sent back for remedial gossip-spy training, spotted Russert “looking very disheveled” at the Chinese food stand getting what the informant said was one order of General Tso’s chicken, a beef and broccoli combo platter, and two Chinese beers.

Close, but no cigar. Beef and broccoli — yes. That was for the wife, Russert told HOH. “I had, what do you call it? Lo mein … chicken lo mein.” And yes, he ordered two Chinese beers, one for him, one for his wife. But he was by no means “liquored up” as our informant suggested.

Russert said he had just come from work, for crying out loud. “I wasn’t walking around the MCI Center hammered,” he says. And let’s face it, folks: What’s the difference between a “disheveled” Russert and a “sheveled” Russert?

“Yeah, that’s what I said,” Russert joked.

Our favorite Sunday talk show host loved the concert. Russert said he recently told Bono during an interview what his college-aged son told him: “Dad, U2 is the the kind of band … it finds you, you don’t find them.”

Johnny B. Kerry. Hard as it is to imagine, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) was spotted out on U Street Northwest on Thursday night being cool.

We hear the failed Democratic presidential candidate stole the show at the uber-hip Tabaq Bistro, at a benefit for the Whitman-Walker Clinic. Kerry made a surprise appearance to support his staffers Heather Zichal and Heather Higginbottom, both of whom are training for the upcoming AIDS marathon and helping to raise money for Whitman-Walker.

The Senator hung out with the crowd and even played a few songs on a guitar he borrowed from the band hired to play for the event. He played Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode” and a few Beatles riffs, our source says.

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