The Ex Factor

Posted February 25, 2008 at 6:38pm

Pretty much every politician’s Web site touts adoring endorsements of his or her bona fides for public office. But a politician getting an ex-wife to sing his praises on his campaign Web site is a rarity.

[IMGCAP(1)]It’s no political ex-wives’ club for Illinois Democrat Bill Foster’s ex-wife, Ann. Actually, Foster, who is running in a March 8 special election for the open 14th district seat previously held by former Speaker Dennis Hastert (R), has a secret weapon in his ex.

Things weren’t always so rosy between the Fosters, who divorced in 1996. In typical divorce fashion, the pair had quite a messy separation, according to court documents. Unsurprisingly, the Republican blogosphere has gleefully picked apart the salacious details in hopes of keeping Hastert’s old seat in Republican hands. Though the blogs aired some of the allega-

tions Ann made against her husband at the time, HOH won’t do the same.

HOH will say that it appears that more than a decade later, the pair has let bygones be bygones. Foster’s campaign site states: “Bill and Ann are both very proud of remaining on good terms and making things as easy as possible for their kids, who seem to be doing well in life!”

Ann, who works as a software engineer for her ex-husband’s company, concurs.

“Any rumors are just false. I know,” she told HOH about the court documents and the attention they’ve gotten. “Bill has always been a kind, decent person, and a great father to our two children. No one would make a better Congressman and I support him 100 percent.”

And it looks like she’s putting her money where her mouth is. Ann and the Fosters’ two children, Billy and Christine, have all maxed out to his campaign coffers.

Murphy’s Law. St. Patrick’s Day is sort of like a national holiday: It has its rituals (drinking beer, duh) and an official color (green). Plenty of people even take off work for it (OK, so they usually take the day after St. Pat’s to recover from long nights of drinking said beer, but still).

But as enthusiastic as its celebrants are, St. Patrick’s isn’t an actual, sanctioned national holiday, and that’s something that Guinness, the maker of the famous dark-brown brew, is hoping to change. Company officials are backing what they’re calling “Proposition 3-17”, which would make St. Patrick’s Day an official holiday in the United States, and they’re hoping that if the petition gets enough signatures, it might just become law someday.

“Everybody considers themselves a little bit Irish on St. Patrick’s Day and definitely we want to show Congress that a million or more people decided it ought to be recognized in that way,” Mike Bertman, of Diageo, makers of Guinness stout, told HOH.

The advertising campaign is making its way to Washington with the goal of getting at least 1 million signatures for its petition — which is being circulated at stores where Guinness is sold and online at Proposition317.com — by March 16, so it can be presented to Congress the following day, St. Patrick’s Day.

As of HOH’s deadline, the beer maker still had 941,210 signatures to go. But Bertman isn’t worried. He says there may even be a Member or two of Congress who’ll sign on before the final deadline. The company plans to entertain lawmakers and staffers at its eighth annual “A Night of Irish Treasures” event March 13.

While HOH as a rule remains steadfastly neutral on legislative matters, this is one effort to which she would definitely raise a pint.

Crooning for Dollars. Rep. Jon Porter has a special way of saying thank you to his political donors: “Danke Schoen.” Actually, the Nevada Republican had Las Vegas song stylist Wayne Newton say it for him.

Porter held a fundraiser during Newton’s Friday night performance at the Birchmere in Alexandria, Va., and after the show he led a group of his political supporters backstage to meet “Mr. Las Vegas” himself and snap photos with the lounge legend.

Newton, we hear, did perform his signature “Danke Schoen” as well as “Viva Las Vegas” for the enthusiastic crowd.

Porter and Newton — who posed for a picture together backstage — are longtime friends, Porter spokesman Matt Leffingwell tells HOH. “He’s a huge Wayne Newton fan,” he says of his boss, who is a musician as well.

And the feeling is apparently mutual. In fact, Newton, one of Porter’s constituents, lives just down the street from Porter’s district office and he’s donated to Porter’s campaigns.

The Newton fundraiser was only the latest in a string of increasingly creative events campaigns have been throwing to fatten up their coffers.

When it comes to wacky fundraising, “we’re definitely in the competition now,” Leffingwell says.

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