Staffers’ Cash Crunch

Posted March 10, 2008 at 6:52pm

Capitol Hill staffers are famous for making their relatively paltry salaries go as far as possible (25-cent wings anyone?). But late-night Hill revelers who stayed out until the wee hours of Sunday morning were met by an unwelcome surprise when it came time to pay their bar tabs, no matter how small they were. Their debit cards were declined, according to an HOH tipster.

[IMGCAP(1)]No, the cash-strapped staffers hadn’t spent their entire paychecks. But they had fallen victim to a debit card snafu, according to the

Congressional Federal Credit Union Web site and the automated recording on its help line. “Due to an issue on Sunday, March 9th with one of our processors, debit card transactions were not being approved,” according to a notice posted on the credit union’s Web site.

For one group of staffers at an area bar, that meant consolidating their tabs and passing a hat amongst themselves and other patrons to pay the bill, says the tipster. Finding cab fare was another thing. One staffer ended up hoofing it almost 20 blocks home after coming up short on dough, we’re told.

Meanwhile, some lobbyists who were partying alongside staffers couldn’t help out. In order to stay on the right side of the ethics rules, they had to watch their friends struggle to pay their bills and find cab fare.

O’Malley’s Night Out. File this in the department of least unexpected sightings: That was Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley at the sold-out Sunday night Pogues concert at the 9:30 Club. The governor, of course, has played guitar and sung in several Irish folk-rock bands himself. And the Pogues are an Irish and English band famous for merging punk influences with traditional Irish music.

Our HOH spy spotted the guv taking in the show from the back of the room on the club’s main level.

O’Malley might find the inspiration for the Pogues’ name useful when dealing with pesky political enemies: It comes from the phrase “pogue mahone,” which is Gaelic for “kiss my arse.”

That Was Fast. Oh, what a difference a day makes. A quick check of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s (D-N.Y.) campaign Web site turned up not a single mention of the endorsement of Clinton by suddenly scandal-icious New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer.

On the site, Clinton touts all her other endorsements, from those of fellow Senators to actress Eva Longoria Parker. But HOH couldn’t find a mention of Spitzer. The New York Times reported on Monday that the governor was linked to a prostitution ring.

Spitzer endorsed Clinton in 2007.

The Best Lei’d Plans. When Rep. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) presided over the House on Monday, she was sporting a festive lei, a traditional Hawaiian necklace of flowers, for the occasion. Turns out it was a gift from her new communications director, Marvin Buenconsejo, a guy who clearly knows how to make nice with a new boss. He presented it to Hirono before she was set to gavel the House into session on Monday morning in honor of Women’s History Month, HOH hears.

Power Grab. A conservative group is launching a rather personal attack today on the godfather of green, former Vice President Al Gore.

The Washington think tank Competitive Enterprise Institute is airing an ad accusing Gore, who’s won a Nobel Prize for his environmental activism, of being an energy-hogging hypocrite.

The ad, which features photos of Gore with actor Leonardo DiCaprio and liberal songstress Melissa Etheridge, attacks the Gores’ personal energy use, saying that their Nashville, Tenn., household uses more than 20 times the energy of the average consumer’s home. The group’s nationwide effort will air across the country and on CNN, CNBC and Fox News, according to the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Christine Hall.

Of course, Gore’s camp isn’t happy with the comparison. “I think they are trying to attack the messenger because they don’t like the message, and this isn’t the first time they’ve tried to do it. I’m sure it won’t be the last,” said Kalee Kreider, a spokeswoman for the Gores, who says the group is using outdated information about the Gores’ home. Kreider tells HOH that the Gores’ Nashville house went under significant renovations to be more energy-efficient and that they try to “practice what they preach” by driving a hybrid car.

John Stanton contributed to this report.

Submit your hot tips, juicy gossip or comments here.