Heard on the Hill: Real-World Lobbying

Posted September 24, 2008 at 6:55pm

To the great stars of reality TV — think catfighting roomies, weeping bachelorettes and scheming would-be survivors — add lobbyists. The Lifetime TV show now filming in Washington, “Blonde Charity Mafia,” features some scenes shot in the office of Georgetown lobby shop Pyle & Associates, HOH has learned.

[IMGCAP(1)]Sophie Pyle, 21-year-old daughter of lobbyist Nick Pyle and granddaughter of firm founder Robert Pyle, is one of the show’s stars, and she tells us her father will appear on the show, too. “He was skeptical at first, but now he thinks it’s cool,” she

says. “He’s even bragging to his friends about it.”

Nick Pyle says the show’s crew shot two days worth of footage in his offices during the lull following the GOP convention this summer. And he hinted that the scenes might include some serious family drama between himself and his daughter, who was a vice president in the family business but who now works in a Georgetown shoe boutique. “There’s the firing scene, the you’re-in-late scene, and the make-up scene,” he divulges.

But he predicts that Sophie, a former intern in the office of former Rep. Charlie Bass (R-N.H.) who is taking time off from her undergraduate studies at the University of North Carolina, could have a future in the family biz — if Hollywood doesn’t come calling first. “She’s got great potential as a lobbyist,” he tells us.

We’ll just have to wait for details of the father-daughter dust-up until the show, which is being billed as “The Hills” set in Washington, debuts sometime early next year.

And clients of Pyle & Associates, fear not, your laundry (dirty or not) won’t be aired on the show: Nick Pyle says there aren’t any references to his clients in the show. He was paid a “location fee” for letting the crew take over his offices, which — in typical Washington fashion — “was eaten up by attorney’s fees.”

Name-Dropping. We all know the plight of the poor Congressional staffer: grueling work, peanuts for pay, and in the end, the boss gets all the credit.

So when the opportunity comes along for a longtime staffer to get his 15 minutes of fame, it’s exciting — unless, of course, the wrong guy gets the glory. That’s the case for Bob Russell, chief of staff to Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.).

Russell is briefly featured in “The Way of the World,” the latest book by Pulitzer Prize winner Ron Suskind. In the tome, Russell appears alongside Benazir Bhutto, escorting the former Pakistani prime minister (who has since died) through the Senate during her September 2007 visit.

Only Russell is referred to as “Bob Bennett” in the book — and the last time we checked, neither the Utah Senator nor the famed attorney of the same name has ever served as Pryor’s chief of staff.

Suskind explained to HOH that the error was flagged during the editing process, but for some reason didn’t get fixed before the book went to print. But the author promised it would be corrected in subsequent editions.

Russell, for his part, isn’t too concerned. Pryor spokeswoman Lisa Ackerman said the staffer is taking the whole thing in stride, although “he’s been getting quite a bit of ribbing from his fellow chiefs of staff.”

And Ackerman said Russell doesn’t have any plans to demand an immediate reprint, joking: “Bob’s decided it’s easier to change his last name than get a correction.”

Ted Stevens, Hillary Clinton and Kevin Bacon. Picking the jurors who will decide the fate of embattled Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens (R) had to have been tough, especially when many of the folks in the jury pool had some kind of connection to Capitol Hill.

Take Juror 443.

During the interview process on Tuesday afternoon, the juror (who was not identified by name in court) mentioned her link to a certain Democrat from New York.

“I do have a son who works for a Senator. He is a scheduler for Hillary Clinton,” the juror said, adding that her son also worked for Clinton while she was first lady.

“He’s been there for 10 years,” she added.

With those facts in mind, HOH surmised that the potential juror’s son likely is Clinton scheduler Eric Woodard, who previously worked under Clinton in the White House. Clinton’s office, though, didn’t want to talk about the proceedings.

“We would never confirm or even comment on the voir dire process in a criminal matter,” spokesman Philippe Reines told HOH.

Alas, Juror 443 didn’t end up making the cut, and we might never know the exact reason why, since the final selection process is done in private. But we have a pretty good idea …

Stevens’ Other Trial. Sen. Ted Stevens has been logging long hours in the courtroom as he faces federal corruption charges, but he found time to make an appearance — however brief — on behalf of an old friend.

The Alaska Republican made a surprise visit to a Wednesday ceremony honoring Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.). During the event, held in the Senate Mansfield Room by the National Council for History Education, guests noticed Stevens across the room, looking as if he might want to congratulate his longtime colleague.

But the embattled Alaskan beat a hasty retreat when he noticed a somewhat less friendly sight: a brace of snap-happy photographers who would just love to grab his mug shot.

And No Milk and Cookies, Either. HOH’s award for the quote that captured the exact zeitgeist of Capitol Hill on Wednesday goes to Rep. Darrell Issa. An HOH spy spotted the California Republican walking near the House office buildings on Wednesday and overheard him complain to a staffer, “Why can’t we have votes outside today?”

With the combination of gorgeous weather outside and frayed nerves inside, we were wondering the very same thing.

Candidates for an Intervention? Presidential contenders Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Barack Obama (D-Ill.) might not be knocking back bottles of Jim Beam — that we know of, anyway — but there’s growing talk that both candidates have serious drinking problems.

The duo, according to some observers, are addicted to bottled water, appearing with the hazardous (at least to the environment) substance on the campaign trail, in television interviews and even while carrying out their official duties.

And it has to stop, says anti-bottled-water activist Eric Yaverbaum.

“We’d like to see their campaign headquarters cleaned up of bottled water,” Yaverbaum tells HOH. “I think if they carried around water bottles that were reusable water bottles, it would make an enormous statement.”

Yaverbaum says he and business partner Mark DiMassimo aren’t your typical environmental activists; they’re just guys with a public relations background who decided to launch the Web site Tappening.com last year to convince folks to ditch bottled water in favor of tap water.

Bottled water is costly and bad for the environment, Yaverbaum says, and toting re-usable bottles on the campaign trail is an easy way for the candidates to show they are serious about going green.

Tappening has called both campaigns without much response, so the group recently released a series of print ads (to be published in swing states come October) that feature silhouettes of the candidates sipping bottled water with captions reading: “The Candidates Will Focus on Environmental Issues. Bottled Water Should Be One Of Them.”

“We didn’t want to be preachy about it,” Yaverbaum says. “We just wanted people to educate themselves.”

Is there a 12-step program for that?

Kate Ackley and Jennifer Yachnin contributed to this report.

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