Boundary Patrol

Posted September 17, 2007 at 6:45pm

Those of us who read the police report of his arrest in June know that Sen. Larry Craig has boundary issues. Who could forget the Idaho Republican’s wide stance? But at least when it comes to legislation, Craig is trying to resolve some of his state’s boundary problems. Craig has been a low-key presence since Congress returned from August recess, but one of his bills, which would adjust the contours of a wilderness area in Idaho, is advancing in the Senate. [IMGCAP(1)]

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee is hearing testimony Thursday on a slew of bills, including S. 1802, Craig’s bill on the unfortunately titled Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness. Committee spokesman Bill Wicker noted that the panel slated the bill for a hearing back in July, before the Craig scandal broke. Despite Craig’s woes, and his uncertain political future, Wicker said the committee “saw no reason to pull it.”

Since there’s still no word on Craig’s other attempt to rework the boundaries on his guilty plea following his June arrest for disorderly conduct, it looks like Craig could have plenty of time to enjoy the Idaho wilderness, regardless of its lines, come October.

Royal Treatment. Pony up some campaign cash and Royal Alexander will go to work for you. That was the message that the former chief of staff to Rep. Rodney Alexander (R-La.), who is running to be Louisiana’s top cop, sent in a bold e-mail missive in July to members of the Louisiana Association of Ambulatory Healthcare.

“I am willing to reach out to my D.C. staffer friends very quickly” about proposed health care cuts the association opposed, he wrote in an e-mail exchange that the New Orleans Times-Picayune published last week. “However … I am very busy. So, in return for the precious time I am going to take away from my campaign for Attorney General to assist you, I am going to ask you to make a substantial financial contribution to my campaign.” Alexander followed up by suggesting the health care execs max out to his campaign with a $5,000 check and encourage other association members to do the same.

But he wasn’t finished. In another e-mail exchange, Alexander, who is not related to the lawmaker, wrote, “I have no doubt that if I become our state’s next Attorney General I will certainly be in a position to help your industry. Please let me know when we can schedule a fundraiser.”

Despite the ex-staffer’s I-can-make-things-happen bravado, Rep. Alexander staffer Jack Thompson says that “Royal hasn’t contacted our office” to lobby or get status updates on legislation since he left the Hill. Good thing too, because Alexander, who left his post in February, is still under the one-year federal lobbying ban.

But just because he hasn’t been lobbying doesn’t mean he’s had his swan song with Alexander’s office. The lawmaker’s office is still dealing with a sexual harassment suit against Royal Alexander that Elizabeth Scott, a former scheduler for Rep. Alexander, filed in 2006. Scott alleged that the Congressman’s then-chief of staff “engaged in a course of misconduct” that included “inappropriate sex-based comments, ogling and touching” and “sexual advances,” according to Elizabeth Scott’s lawyer at the time. Thompson declined to comment on the suit because it is still pending litigation.

Alexander’s campaign did not return HOH’s calls seeking comment, though he’s quoted on his campaign Web site as saying, “I am running to end the ‘good old boys’ politics of the past to provide new and effective leadership in the Attorney General’s office.” To HOH, it seems a little more like business as usual.

Louisiana Crawl. Raising money for the Gulf Coast at the third annual New Orleans Rebirth 5K wasn’t the only thing on Louisiana Senate staffers-turned-runners’ minds on Saturday. The runners were racing for their lawmakers’ honor after Sens. Mary Landrieu (D) and David Vitter (R) decided to up the competitive ante with a friendly inter-office wager — the office that lost the Roll Call Challenge, a compilation score of each team’s four fastest runners, would serve the winning team their home-state delicacy of red beans and rice.

While Landrieu confidently boasted that the wager was “added motivation” for “Landrieu’s Reauxd” to run faster, “Team Vitter” had the last laugh, beating Landrieu’s top four runners by almost four minutes.

No word yet on who in Landrieu’s office will be tasked with making the Louisiana Creole cuisine, but sources says it’s likely to be coming from an outside pinch hitter. “Given my previous experience with my colleagues’ cooking, I hope we’ll be ordering out,” joked Landrieu spokesman Scott Schneider.

Food Frenzy. Congressional ethics reforms has everyone on watch — cocktail wieners on a toothpick, OK; pasta with a fork, bad. But this week, three more Members of Congress will be partaking in the Food Stamp Challenge and abstaining from pilfering Congressional receptions for free food.

Democratic Reps. Keith Ellison (Minn.), Chris Van Hollen (Md.) and Raúl Grijalva (Ariz.) on Friday became the latest Members to take the challenge, starting a weeklong strict diet in which they will try to live on $21, the average amount food stamp recipients get. Ellison, for one, has a leg up on his colleagues. The only Muslim in Congress already has to experience fasting during the holy season of Ramadan, which began last week, and so far, Ellison spokesman Rick Jauert says he hasn’t heard of his boss having any problems keeping to the limited budget.

While passing on overcooked meatballs might not seem like a hardship, it was only a few months ago that Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) fell off the wagon midway through the challenge. At the time, an HOH tipster reported that Ryan was caught sipping a cup of coffee at Ebenezer’s Coffee House in Capitol Hill, while reportedly wearing a T-shirt promoting the campaign.

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