It wasn’t just House Republicans who were in a snit last week. Things also got a little testy between Virginia Democratic Rep. Rick Boucher and a reporter during a break in Wednesday’s House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet hearing.
Boucher and Hollywood Reporter’s Brooks Boliek got into a heated debate after Boliek went behind the dais to talk to Boucher about whether he planned to give up his coveted spot on the subcommittee.
[IMGCAP(1)]“Staff asked him to get off the dais, which he did, but he continued to use colorful language,” one HOH tipster said of the incident, during which the pair exchanged more than one four-letter word.
“He didn’t like what I was writing about what’s going to happen when [Rep. Howard] Berman [D-Calif.] finally has to give up his spot on the [Judiciary] subcommittee,” Boliek said. “If you don’t piss them off every once in a while you aren’t doing your job.”
Boliek conceded that the conversation was a “frank and earnest discussion,” but said that he respects Boucher. He also sent an e-mail apologizing for the incident to Boucher’s press secretary.
Unfortunately for Boliek, it appears the committee staff doesn’t have the same let- bygones-be-bygones attitude. “We expect reporters to conduct themselves in a professional manner, and they usually do,” a committee spokesperson told HOH. “This was an unfortunate exception.”
House committee staff informed the House Print Gallery of the incident.
Welcome to ‘Hitsville.’ As chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) is a law-and-order kind of guy. And his wife, Detroit City Council President Pro Tem Monica Conyers, had a recent brush with the law herself, when an opponent filed a police report claiming she threatened to shoot him.
Monica Conyers almost came to fisticuffs with DeDan Milton, an aide to Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, at a meeting last Wednesday, according to the Detroit News. The two were reportedly lobbing four-letter words; they had to be restrained to prevent the matter from getting physical. Conyers and the Kilpatrick administration have been at odds over several investigations, including the recent sex scandal surrounding Kilpatrick and a former staffer.
As in any tussle, who started what is a major point of contention. Milton alleges in the police report that Conyers threatened to shoot him and made threatening gestures, according to the Detroit News.
But Conyers’ chief of staff, Sam Riddle, tells HOH that she was simply showing some of the feistiness for which her hometown is famous. “It’s Detroit and she’s a daughter of Detroit,” Riddle said. “All 5 feet 3 inches of her stood up against this 6-foot-3-inch guy. And it was on.”
Rep. Conyers’ office declined to comment on the incident.
Mum’s the Word. Those scores of Hill staffers who nabbed all-star baseball pitcher Roger Clemens’ coveted John Hancock last week are nowhere to be found.
While it was widely reported that Clemens obliged fans by signing autographs when making visits to Members’ offices before testifying at a steroids hearing last Wednesday, it appears that his admirers — including, HOH hears, a Senator or two — have gone underground after reports surfaced that the autographs may indeed be a violation of the Senate and House rules that ban gifts worth more than $50.
“I understand that no Congressman or staffer has fessed up to having such a signature. No suspects have been identified,” ethics expert Jan Baran tells HOH. “It’s bad form, if not unethical.”
Ethics experts told HOH it wasn’t just the pricey signature that could land staffers or Members in hot water (a Clemens signature goes for around $75, and a signed baseball can garner upwards of $450, according to Larry Hester, owner of Short Stop Baseball Card Shop in Springfield, Va.), but House Oversight and Government Reform Committee staffers who may have solicited Clemens’ autograph could also be in trouble since the seven-time Cy Young winner was testifying before the committee.
Yet HOH couldn’t find a single staffer or Member who would cop to falling for Clemens’ star power. Both majority and minority committee spokespersons Karen Lightfoot and Brian McNicoll told HOH that they didn’t know of any staff running afoul of the rules.
Do Not Try This at Home. To outsource or handle in-house: That is the question, particularly when you’re talking about comedy writing. Last week’s Washington Press Club Foundation dinner had everyone asking “did he or didn’t he?” about the evening’s comedy headliners, Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.) and Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas).
The speculation was that Emanuel had turned to the pros for his monologue, which was peppered with plenty of zingy one-liners. That assumption was fueled not only by the quality, but by the fact that his brother, Los Angeles super-agent Ari Emanuel, has connections with scads of wickedly funny-for-a-living writers.
But as loose-lipped as he was on the dais, Emanuel clammed up when HOH asked who penned his zingers. “I’m not talking about that,” he harrumphed when we approached him after the dinner.
Cornyn’s stand-up act, on the other hand, wasn’t nearly the sidesplitter that Emanuel’s was. While the sedate Senator did elicit some laughs, they were more along the lines of jokes that just kill in a committee room but come off as underwhelming in an all-comedy routine. To be fair, real insiders were howling at one of his first gags, when he noted that he had started his Senate career as “[Sen.] Kay Bailey Hutchison’s [R-Texas] purse boy.” And, hey, we salute anybody who tries to amuse what’s probably the most cynical bunch in a cynical town.
Cornyn, though, didn’t have the benefits of a professional comedy scribe, HOH hears, since he mostly relied on in-house writers with a bit of outside consultation.
“Rahm stayed true to form and had some funny lines, no doubt about it,” said Brian Walsh, Cornyn’s spokesman. “However, I suspect more than a few eyebrows would have been raised by folks in Texas if it was Senator Cornyn who used some of that material.”
A few more random notes from the dinner: When partygoers had their pictures taken with Kristen Haglund, aka Miss America, who was a guest of Congressional Quarterly, they were asked by one of her handlers to put down their alcoholic beverages. Guess the fresh-faced (and underage) royalty wants to keep her image squeaky-clean.
And actor and Clinton pal Ted Danson, another CQ guest, had his own picture snapped with a fellow celebrity during his Washington visit. Danson met with U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab, and mugged for a picture with her and paper doll/grade-school phenomenon “Flat Stanley.”
After Musical Flap, Sweet Harmony. The brouhaha between GOP presidential wannabe former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and the frontman of the rock band Boston appears to be settled. Last Thursday, Boston’s chief songwriter, Tom Scholz, sent an open letter to the candidate asking him to stop using the band’s song “More Than a Feeling” and touting the endorsement of a former Boston guitarist.
On Friday, Scholz’s publicist told HOH that she had gotten a call from Lauren Huckabee, the governor’s daughter-in-law and a lawyer in his campaign. After a “lovely” conversation, the publicist, Gail Parenteau, tells HOH the Huckabee camp promised to stop using the song.
Scholz, who says he’s an Obama man himself, said in his letter that he was also upset that Huckabee had implied that Boston the band had endorsed him just because Barry Goudreau had — and he noted that Goudreau “left the band a quarter-century ago.”
But Parenteau says the Huckabees have vowed to do what they can to correct that impression, and that she appreciates their efforts.
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