Heard on the Hill: Thune’s an Easy Date

Posted June 16, 2008 at 6:33pm

It’s easy to snag a date with Sen. John Thune — but it isn’t cheap. While perusing financial disclosure forms made public last week, HOH noticed a preponderance of auctioned-off dates with the South Dakota Republican, with all proceeds, of course, going to charity.

[IMGCAP(1)]Thune sold “lunch/dinner” packages for six different charities in 2007, the records show, with such outings fetching as much as $2,000 for the good causes. Beneficiaries of Thune’s “dates” included the Teddy Bear Den charity, the Sanford Health Foundation and the March of Dimes.

“This is an easy way for the Senator to spend time with his supporters and give back to the community,” Thune spokesman Kyle Downey says. “In other words, everybody wins — and walks away with a full stomach.”

Thune’s mealtime company might be worth the big bucks he commands: After all, he’s one of the Hill’s lookers, and a pretty smooth talker, too.

And in other financial-disclosure news, HOH noticed a few more oddities:

• Rep. Rick Larsen (D-Wash.) has an unusual line of side income. He reported earning $1,080 in 2007 from participating in research at the National Institutes of Health. Turns out it was his wife who took part in the studies, his spokeswoman said.

• Staffers for Rep. George Radanovich apparently think their boss’s golf game needs a little help. The California Republican reported that his staff gave him private golf lessons worth $300. A spokeswoman tells HOH that the lessons were a Christmas gift for the big guy, but she insisted they weren’t a commentary on his game. Everyone — even the illustrious Tiger Woods — could use a little coaching, the spokesman notes.

Musgrave for President. Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) seems to have the whole GOP presidential nomination thing pretty well sewn up. But there’s still a contingent, apparently, that has another candidate in mind. Drumroll, please … it’s Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (R-Colo.)!

Even Musgrave’s staffers were surprised to see their boss — who doesn’t exactly have big-time national name recognition and who’s fighting a tough re-election battle — on a list of potential replacements for McCain as the Republican nominee. In a posting on Huffingtonpost.com, blogger Steve Rosenbaum posits the theory that McCain actually won’t accept the presidential nomination, leaving the field open for another candidate. He lists a dozen or so names for possible McCain substitutes, including all the usual suspects — i.e., a bunch of rumored choices for the vice presidential spot — and Musgrave.

“We’re honored to be in such company,” spokesman Joseph Brettell told HOH. But he humbly shot down any presidential aspirations. “After a history-making one-day campaign, we’re throwing the full weight of our constituency behind John McCain,” he joked. “But we’re withdrawing with our heads held high.”

He also kidded that as a would-be White House press secretary, he’s hiring an agent and planning to write a tell-all book.

Hmm … haven’t we heard that one before?

The Brad Pitt of Washington. The old adage that Washington, D.C., is just Hollywood for ugly people is something HOH always has thought to be a little harsh. After all, there are plenty of D.C. celebs who really are quite good-looking. (See our previous item about South Dakota Republican Sen. John Thune.)

But we must admit that we found a recent Hollywood comparison put forth by the folks over in the office of Chief Administrative Officer Dan Beard to be a stretch. In the office’s latest “Green Team” newsletter, one article describes what happened when a House staffer met with Beard to talk about the Green the Capitol Initiative.

“She was so nervous when she met him that she was practically shaking. She’d been waiting to meet him for months and the moment had finally arrived,” the article reads. “Marcie Cooperman, a staff assistant in the Committee on Natural Resources, wasn’t anticipating a meeting with Dennis Quaid or a passing glimpse of Brad Pitt, but with Chief Administrative Officer Dan Beard.”

Mr. Beard, HOH knows Brad Pitt, and you, sir, are no Brad Pitt.

Now, we don’t want to knock Beard’s Capitol Hill star status; the guy’s been featured everywhere from the New York Times to CNN, even to the gossip-filled pages of Wonkette. But we would hardly compare Beard — more of the grandfather-type — to Pitt, who’s been People’s Sexiest Man Alive and has an array of beautiful children with beautiful actress Angelina Jolie.

As one House aide quipped: “Personally, I’d go with Pitt.”

Mad Mamas. There are plenty of ways to make a mom mad: Don’t clean up your room, or chew with your mouth open, to name a few. But don’t vote for her bill? That’s enough to make a mom take action.

If you eye a group of women wearing sashes near presumptive GOP presidential nominee Sen. John McCain’s office today, don’t assume you’ve run into a bunch of Miss America contestants.

Two dozen or so protesters from the Web-driven advocacy group MomsRising.org could create a scene in the Russell Senate Office Building today as they deliver more than 20,000 résumés to the Arizona Republican to protest his decision to not support a discrimination bill.

The Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act (which failed on a cloture vote in April) would ease restrictions on the length of time workers have to file pay discrimination claims. But McCain came out against the measure, arguing that it would increase frivolous lawsuits and saying a better solution to pay inequity is increased training and education.

That whole argument didn’t really go over well with MomsRising, which immediately began collecting résumés to show plenty of women already are well-educated, spokeswoman Gretchen Wright tells HOH. And today, members will sport sashes reading, “Magnificently Overqualified Mothers” and head to McCain’s office in the Russell Building to hand-deliver the résumés.

“There is every chance his office won’t let us in,” Wright admitted. “I don’t know why that would be.”

Jennifer Yachnin contributed to this report.

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