Intern Turns Action Star

Posted October 22, 2007 at 6:39pm

Interns often come to our fair city with the idea that things in Washington will be glamorous and fast-paced, like something out of a Harrison Ford thriller, only to find themselves shackled to a copier or fetching coffee. For one intern, Ty Olson, who works in the office of Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), the reality actually matched up with the action-flick fantasy when he engaged last Wednesday in a high- drama, sometimes-high-speed chase with a would-be robber. [IMGCAP(1)]

HOH recommends you pop some popcorn and break into that stash of Milk Duds, ’cause this is a cinema-ready tour de force, the way Olson tells it. According to Olson, he had gone home for a late lunch to the house he shares with several roommates on the 200 block of Constitution Avenue Northeast, not far from the Senate office buildings. When he arrived, he spotted a man climbing out of the first-floor kitchen window, carrying Olson’s backpack. Olson dropped the cell phone he’d been chatting on (his mom was on the other line — more on her reaction later) and chased the burglar out the back door.

The chase continued down the street, when the perpetrator jumped on a bicycle. Undeterred, Olson stayed on his tail and flagged down a passing sport utility vehicle for help. Coincidentally, the driver of the truck happened to be an undercover D.C. police officer. Olson hopped in, and the dynamic duo continued tailing their man while the police officer called in for backup. Construction in an alley off Sixth Street Northeast blocked them and momentarily separated them from their quarry, but when they caught up with the burglar, he was surrounded by police responding to the undercover officer’s call.

Even once the guy was in handcuffs, the drama wasn’t over for Olson — when the officers gave him a ride back to his house, a contingent of Capitol Police officers were waiting there, along with a gaggle of Conrad’s staffers.

Olson’s mother had sounded the alarm when she heard yelling in her son’s phone and when he didn’t return to the line. The worried mom, back home in North Dakota, dialed the Senator’s office and alerted the staff, who called Capitol Police and rushed over to their young intern’s abode.

Olson, who didn’t even realize when he gave chase what the bandit had made off with (it later turned out to be a laptop, iPods and some jewelry belonging to Olson and his roommates), said he didn’t think twice about chasing after a possibly dangerous criminal. Even after the guy threatened to kill him.

“One of the guys told me that maybe it wasn’t such a great idea,” the 18-year-old told HOH sheepishly of an admonishment by the police. But he insists that the episode hasn’t soured him on Washington. “I feel safe, and I love Washington.”

Fade to credits.

Mad Max. Memo to lobbying groups from Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.): Hands off my staffers! Or, more to the point, if you want to hire away my staff, at least give me a courtesy call.

Baucus was peeved to learn that Judy Miller, his senior pension adviser and one of the top brains in her field on the Hill, had been lured away for a private-sector job at the American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries. According to a Senate staffer familiar with the incident, Baucus was upset that the group’s top lobbyist, Executive Director Brian Graff, hadn’t called him or his other top staffers to give them the heads-up about the poaching. When he got word last week that the group had nabbed one of his most trusted advisers, Baucus abruptly canceled a breakfast fundraiser scheduled for this morning that the pension group had planned. Baucus apparently felt the surprise hiring constituted a breach of unwritten etiquette, the Senate staffer tells HOH. Lobbying groups with relationships with Congressional offices often seek the Member’s blessing when stealing away top talent, a practice akin to a prospective groom getting his girlfriend’s father’s OK before popping the question. “That’s just how it’s done,” another Senate aide says.

Additionally, Baucus has banned Graff from his office — at least for now, the staffer told HOH.

As for Miller, she alerted her supervisor about her new job, the staffer says, and she has had to recuse herself from working on issues important to her new employer, per Senate rules.

Baucus’ chief of staff, Jim Messina, wouldn’t comment on the incident, and Graff didn’t return several calls.

Lobbyists are grappling with all kinds of new rules in how they interact with Hill offices, but the Baucus parable serves as a reminder of lessons we learned in grade school: Sometimes, the most important rules are the unofficial ones.

Scout’s Honor. Most Members of Congress have big dreams of the legislation they’ll pass, whether it’s tax cuts or more money for local public-works projects. But Rep. Sam Graves’ No. 1 legislative priority might seem a little less ambitious: saluting his home-state Eagle Scouts.

The four-term Congressman, who himself is an Eagle Scout and a member of the Mic-O-Say Tribe, has taken to the House floor 421 times to congratulate boys in their accomplishment. While in his first term, the Missouri Republican only gave a shout out to two Scouts, he gained momentum in the 107th and devoted half of the 248 times he spoke on the House floor to his Eagle Scout cause. So far in the 110th Congress he’s congratulated 141 Eagle Scouts.

Graves spokesman Jason Klindt says the Congressman “participates with his son” in scouting and follows the scouting mottos.

“He figures he should be prepared and do a good turn daily,” Klindt said, invoking the do-gooding group’s motto, of his boss’s penchant for congratulating scouts.

Submit your hot tips, juicy gossip or comments here.