Kitty Dish

Posted June 18, 2007 at 6:21pm

Former Rep. Katherine Harris always seems to be at the center of some storm or another, and she soon could be in the midst of a book battle royal. [IMGCAP(1)]

When the Florida Republican lost her bid to unseat Sen. Bill Nelson (D), Harris said she planned to write a book about the race in which she would dish about her enemies, a hit list that included former staffers and the press.

Now, at least one former Harris staffer is considering penning his own account of the recount of the presidential race in which Harris played a pivotal role as Florida secretary of state. Ben McKay, who was a top Harris staffer during much of her Congressional tenure, tells HOH he is considering writing a book about the infamous 2000 recount, writing in an e-mail that other accounts of the saga are incomplete or wrong. The potential book would “correct and augment the public record,” he wrote.

Now with the Property Casualty Insurers Association, McKay said although the potential book would focus on the recount, it wouldn’t dwell on his ex-boss. “I am not interested in writing a K. Harris book, presently,” McKay added in the e-mail.

And other former Harris staffers are lawyering up in anticipation that their ex-boss’s tell-all book will have less-than-flattering things to say about them. Harris went through staffers the way some Members go through clean undies, with many of the departing underlings reporting of Harris’ erratic behavior and a tendency to blame subordinates for her woes.

One former Harris insider who believes she would throw former staffers under the bus in a memoir said he is prepared for a legal battle if necessary. “I have lawyers locked and loaded,” the former insider said.

It’s unclear, though, when and if Harris’ book will materialize. Harris mentioned the book during an interview with The Washington Post in October. “I’ve been writing it all year,” she told the Post. “It’s going to be a great book.”

But an editor for Thomas Nelson Publishing, which published Harris’ last book, “Center of the Storm,” tells HOH the company is not working with the former Congresswoman on a second tome, and efforts to reach Harris were unsuccessful.

Jack v. Nic. Once upon a time, Jack Abramoff had jack. In his heyday, the superlobbyist-turned-jailbird once pulled strings to win a proxy fight against action star Nicolas Cage, according to a memo issued last week in the case against Steven Griles, the former Interior Department official who pleaded guilty to lying about his relationship with Abramoff.

Here’s how the Abramoff-Cage standoff went down, according to news blog TPMmuckraker.com, which caught the mention of the incident in the fine print of the court’s memo.

When Cage’s 2004 flick “National Treasure” was being filmed in Washington, D.C., a camera crew was set up on the grounds of the Navy Memorial, which is near Abramoff’s now-shuttered restaurant, Signatures. Angry that the shutterbugs were blocking his eatery’s valet parking, Abramoff did what he did best: call on some friends in high places.

“Knowing that the Navy Memorial was built on Federal land, Abramoff telephoned defendant Griles. The defendant, in turn, contacted the Special Assistant to the Director of the National Park Service and asked the Government official to investigate Abramoff’s complaint,” the memo states.

And whaddaya know, the feds showed up and told the Hollywood types to move away from Abramoff’s valet space.

Courting Jewel. When folkstress Jewel testifies on Capitol Hill today, she might be disappointed that she won’t be seeing a familiar face: former Sen. Conrad Burns (R-Mont.), who was defeated last year by Democratic Sen. Jon Tester.

Jewel appeared last year on the campaign trail with Burns in Montana, along with her boyfriend, rodeo champ Ty Murray. Jewel, who also has lobbied on Capitol Hill for breast-cancer causes, will talk about her experiences with homelessness during a hearing before the Ways and Means subcommittee on income security and family support.

Note to committee members looking to impress their sexy star witness: Clearly, she’s a sucker for a cowboy hat.

Three Babies and a Network. In what can only be seen as a shameless effort to boost ratings, staffers in CNN’s Washington bureau have resorted to producing droves of little viewers, or as they like to call them, children.

In less than 24 hours’ time, three girls were born to CNN bureau staffers. Late last Thursday, CNN Congressional unit producer Deirdre Walsh and her husband, Mike, welcomed Madeleine Grace O’Connor. Madeleine soon had company when the following day, two more CNN babies arrived: Ava Jane Hurley was born to senior video producer Chuck Hurley and his wife, Amy, followed closely by Isabella Hope Dolce, courtesy of technical production manager Steve Dolce and his wife, Heather.

Moms and babies are doing fine, bureau staffers tell HOH.

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