Notes on a Scandal(s)

Posted March 21, 2008 at 5:46pm

When it comes to Congressional misdoings these days, Rep. Rodney Alexander usually isn’t far behind.

[IMGCAP(1)]Sure, the Louisiana Republican has never been fingered for getting into trouble himself, but he has found himself linked to people involved in some of the juiciest goings-on in the Capitol — from the National Republican Congressional Committee’s missing money to former Florida Rep. Mark Foley’s (R) page scandal.

“Rodney Alexander is the Forrest Gump of scandal,” joked one Democratic operative about Alexander’s habit of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. “If there is smoke, he’s usually walking right through it.”

Thus HOH thought it was appropriate, during this recess week, to take a little look down memory lane.

The most recent example: Alexander was linked to former National Republican Congressional Committee Treasurer Chris Ward. Ward, who has been accused of bilking the NRCC of hundreds of thousands of dollars, also was serving as Alexander’s campaign treasurer.

Then there’s the case of the Congressman’s former chief of staff, Royal Alexander (of no relation to the lawmaker). Not only did Royal Alexander get fingered in a lawsuit by another Congressional staffer for sexual harassment, he also was outed this fall for trying to use his connections to the Congressman to solicit contributions for his own unsuccessful bid to become Louisiana attorney general.

But Alexander says he’s just had some bad luck and doesn’t see himself as being a part of the scandals. “I try to be a good guy,” Alexander told HOH. “I try to do things right. If a chief of staff did something wrong, he’s gone.”

That certainly was the case in 2006 when another Alexander aide used her position inappropriately. This time Theresa Mares, who worked in Alexander’s central Louisiana district office, was caught sending love letters on Congressional stationary to convicted killer Scott Peterson, who is on death row for murdering his wife and unborn son. Alexander later fired Mares.

But even the unluckiest of people wouldn’t have wanted to be in Alexander’s shoes during the recent Foley page scandal. While much was being made of Foley’s illicit text messages to a House page, Alexander also had to ward off calls after finding out that the page in question was actually from his district.

Next time a scandal breaks, it might be time to take a cue from the movie and “Run Rodney, run!”

Business in Full Bloom. Scandal mongering aside, Eliot Spitzer’s tête-à-tête with a call girl at the famous Mayflower Hotel hasn’t curbed business at the ritzy stopover.

The Town and Country Lounge, which has long had a reputation as a hotspot for less than above board rendezvous, is busier than normal, according to HOH tipsters.

Mark Indre, a spokesman for Marriott, which owns the Mayflower, tells HOH the company has seen an increase in bar patrons since the Spitzer imbroglio. The hotel’s gift shop also has been booming with people picking up Mayflower coffee mugs and post cards, Indre says.

While the Mayflower has made a signature cocktail during scandals of the past, they won’t be doing it this time around. And anyone interested in trying to snag Spitzer’s own Mayflower digs — room 871 where the illicit tryst occurred — also may be out of luck. “We have had some interest in the room, but as standard procedure we don’t guarantee specific rooms,” Indre tells HOH.

Longing for Greener Fairways. It wasn’t but a few years ago when Members of Congress and lobbyists made an afternoon of doing business on the golf course, glad-handing for photo-ops in their nattiest argyle attire. But ethically leery politicos are keeping their handicap closer to the vest, according to Golf Digest.

The magazine’s ranking of Washington’s top 200 players hits newsstands soon, but golfers such as Chief Justice John Roberts, Sen. Gordon Smith (R-Ore.) and Reps. Ed Pastor (D-Ariz.) and Dean Heller (R-Nev.) (who coincidentally is part of the Republican Ryder Cup team) all opted out of reporting their game.

One chart topper was more than happy to oblige, though: Kentucky Democratic Rep. John Yarmuth (whose handicap is 0.5). The freshman, whose home state hosts the Ryder Cup, is a former Kentucky Golfer editor.

“I’m flattered by the honor, but I have a feeling the ranking is based on scores from before I was elected,” Yarmuth told HOH. “Believe me, I’ve spent more time on green energy than on the green trying to lower my golf score.”

Hayworth’s Dunce Dance. Getting top billing in Washingtonian Magazine’s annual Congressional “Best and Worst” issue under the “No Rocket Scientist” heading might not seem like a great calling card, but former Arizona Republican Rep. J.D. Hayworth wears it like a badge of honor.

Hayworth, who keynoted the New Mexico Republican Party Lincoln Day Dinner earlier this month, recalled topping that list in 1998.

The magazine’s editorial remark at the time: “They’re never as smart across the aisle — but ex-sportscaster Hayworth got GOP votes, too.”

Hayworth told the crowd he took the title in stride and was even able to get the best of the magazine after constituents approached him seeking money for a school lab for rural Arizona kids. Not only did Hayworth deliver the money, it was named after him.

“Imagine my delight, when I was able to cut the ribbon on the J.D. Hayworth aerospace engineering laboratory, and send the picture to my friends at Washingtonian magazine,” Hayworth told the crowd.

No word yet from Washingtonian on whether they proudly hang Hayworth’s photo.

David M. Drucker contributed to this report.

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