Stark, Raving Mad

Posted January 15, 2008 at 6:38pm

Maybe Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.) was none too pleased to return to work on Tuesday, or maybe he really, really hates being late for a meeting.

Whatever the reason, the Congressman caused a scene outside the Capitol on Tuesday morning after apparently growing impatient with a security check.

[IMGCAP(1)]When Stark drove up to park his car on the plaza on the House side of the Capitol on Tuesday, Capitol Police officers stopped him at a security barricade, as is the norm on Capitol Hill.

But Stark didn’t seem to be in the mood for delays. According to a witness, the Congressman began to argue and curse when the officers tried to search the car with a police canine.

Stark eventually stormed away, the witness said, leaving his car where it was and making his way into the Capitol. On his way in, Stark briefly talked to House Sergeant-at-Arms Bill Livingood — the man in charge of overall House security.

Things appeared to have calmed down by Tuesday afternoon, and a Stark aide downplayed the incident. “The Capitol Police wouldn’t let Congressman Stark’s car through the barricade,” the aide explained. “He was late to a meeting with the Speaker and so he got out of the car and walked.”

Capitol Police are now conducting an investigation, according to a spokesman for the House Administration Committee, which has oversight over the force.

“We can’t comment on specifics, except to say that dissatisfaction was expressed to Capitol Police regarding a routine security inspection of a Member’s vehicle entering the Capitol plaza,” spokesman Kyle Anderson said. “We support the police and ask the Capitol community to be understanding that the need for security screening can sometimes be inconvenient. Ultimately, it is required to ensure the safety and security of Capitol Hill.”

Ebony, Ivory, and … Green. When House Majority Whip James Clyburn sent an e-mail last week asking supporters to attend a Jan. 29 fundraiser hosted by his longtime pal, BET founder Bob Johnson, nary an eyebrow was raised. But that was before Johnson caused a mini-scandal and apparently offended Clyburn with comments he made on the stump for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) in Clyburn’s home state of South Carolina amid a torrent of racially tinged volleys between the Clinton and Obama camps.

Johnson told a crowd that Obama needed to explain his past, causing many to surmise he was alluding to Obama’s past drug use.

“It’s like Bill Shaheen throwing an event for him” joked one Democratic lobbyist, referring to the former Clinton campaign official who stepped down after making comments about Obama’s drug use as a young man.

Although Johnson’s comments had Clyburn up in arms, the two have settled their differences — just in time for the fundraiser, which will raise money for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

Clyburn appears ready to accept Johnson’s explanation that he wasn’t referring to Obama’s drug use, but rather his community organizing experience. “What better way to move past the issues of late and bring the party together than fill our coffers?” Clyburn told HOH.

Looks like the only color in politics that really matters is green.

A Hill of a Flick. There was more anti-Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) sentiment in Georgetown on Monday night than anywhere off the presidential campaign trail, as conservatives gathered for the premier of “Hillary: The Movie,” the latest film savaging the Democratic candidate.

Revelers, including Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.) and journos from The American Spectator and Washington Times, didn’t let a possible Federal Election Commission violation dampen the mood (there’s controversy surrounding the movie, since advertisements for it might violate campaign finance laws) as they watched the film at the Loews theater and then moved on to Sequoia for the after-party.

According to an HOH operative at the soiree, though the crowd was mostly made up of conservatives, the spread was anything but: an embarrassment of hors d’oeuvres included platter upon platter of tuna tartar, crab-cake balls and steak skewers galore.

Free-flowing eats aside, American Spectator Editor-in-Chief Bob Tyrrell had a rather dark assessment of the film. “Any movie about Hillary is going to be grim,” he said.

Pass the Lox. Former Republican Sen. Alfonse D’Amato thinks Washington (surprise, surprise) should be a little more like his hometown of New York. The History Channel strangely chose D’Amato, best known for his filibusters, to give advice to architects participating in its “City of the Future” contest, in which they submitted designs for what D.C. should look like in 100 years.

D’Amato’s counsel focused on cuisine. “In all those years that I served in Washington, D.C., anytime I wanted genuinely good pastrami, Danish, bagels or pizza, I took a plane, train or car to go home to New York,” he said. “While there are great restaurants in Washington, the sense of ethnicity where food is celebrated as part of a neighborhood’s pride was missing.”

On Tuesday, the firm of Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners won the competition, which, the organizers tell HOH, included not a single bagelry, thank you very much.

Briefly Quoted

“I must say, as the Representative from Louisville, Ky., I was disappointed the commission didn’t take up the performance- enhancing qualities of the Louisville slugger.” — Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.) during the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on the use of steroids in baseball.

Jillian Bandes, Elizabeth Brotherton, Tory Newmyer and Emily Yehle contributed to this report.

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