Heard on the Hill: Flying Blind

Posted March 31, 2009 at 6:37pm

Oh, the joy of a mass e-mail sent to important people, the kind where the sender forgets to hide the recipients, revealing often-closely guarded VIP e-mail addresses.

[IMGCAP(1)]Patti Solis Doyle, the longtime staffer to Hillary Rodham Clinton whose ties to the New York Democrat span her years as first lady, Senator and presidential candidate, sent such a missive on Monday in which she announced she had joined the law firm Utrecht & Phillips. Despite being a veteran of bare-knuckle campaigns — where e-mail gaffes can have dire consequences — Solis Doyle left the dozens of recipients’ e-mail addresses visible to all who got the message.

That enabled those who got it to sneak a peek into the very connected longtime Democratic operative’s circle of contacts, a list that included plenty of the usual suspects (lobbyists, other Democratic operatives and the like) and also a few notables. Ever wanted to prank e-mail former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright? HOH is tempted.

Two of the oddest on the list: big Democratic donor (and model-actress Liz Hurley’s baby-daddy) Stephen Bing and … former GOP Speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.).

HOH hears some of the recipients were chuckling when they discovered the kind of company they’re keeping.

A red-faced Solis Doyle tells HOH it was “an honest mistake,— and says she simply forgot to put the addresses in the blind, or Bcc, field when dashing it off. Several of her friends, though, were happy to inform her of the gaffe. And as for the odd assortment of recipients, she says it’s to be expected.

“After 20 years in politics, you develop quite a contact list,— she explains.

Saving Nemo. Rep. Devin Nunes created a rather fishy situation when he brought about a dozen live rainbow smelt to a House Natural Resources Committee hearing on Tuesday morning.

To drive home his message that too much water is being diverted in California to benefit the endangered delta smelt, the Golden State Republican asked unanimous consent to enter a large goldfish bowl full of rainbow smelt (cousin to the delta) into the record.

The fish, Nunes said, are contributing to California’s drought. “You can have them, we don’t want ’em,— he quipped.

No one objected, and so a photograph of the fish will be used for the official record, according to committee staff.

But the fate of the live fish remains unclear.

District Department of the Environment officials will head to Capitol Hill “sometime in the near future— to pick up the fish, spokesman Alan Heymann confirmed to HOH.

There is one hiccup, however: The rainbow smelt are not native to the region (they originate in Maine), so officials cannot release them into the wild.

So where will the homeless fish wind up? “We are still in the process of determining that,— Heymann said.

Here’s to hoping the little guys won’t be sleeping with the … er, fishes.

Congress Hearts Linda. Members of Congress had plenty of kind words about the importance of the arts on Tuesday morning, but they were particularly effusive about one arts lobbyist.

Singer Linda Ronstadt joined Americans for the Arts for the group’s advocacy day on Capitol Hill, and she got lots of love.

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) recalled that he was a huge fan of Ronstadt in college, dating back to the singer’s stint as the lead singer of the Stone Poneys. “I fell in love with the song Different Drum,’— Schumer reminisced in front of a crowd gathered to kick off the arts initiative. “I remember singing that — or trying to sing that — to a girl I was dating.—

Alas, Schumer’s tale of college romance didn’t have a happy ending. “She broke up with me that night,— he concluded.

And Ronstadt’s visit also prompted Rep. Louise Slaughter to remember her own youthful ambition to become a blues singer, something that apparently inspired her to frequently sing along to the radio. “Linda Ronstadt doesn’t know it, but we did some great duets together — especially Blue Bayou,’— the New York Democrat said. Of her second-choice gig: “Being in Congress is OK.—

In addition to the tributes to Ronstadt, the audience also got to hear a Congressional serenade. Rep. Dennis Moore (D-Kan.) played guitar and sang, accompanied by Peggo Hodes (wife of New Hampshire Democratic Rep. Paul Hodes and half of the musical duo “Peggo and Paul—) singing harmony. The two performed “This Land Is Your Land,— which Moore followed with a solo version of “You’re Sixteen— and Hodes with an a capella spiritual.

Ronstadt, jazzman Wynton Marsalis and singer Josh Groban (who brought his parents along for the day — how cute!) also testified about arts as an economic engine during a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing later in the day.

Whitford Acts the Part. When “The West Wing— actor Bradley Whitford came to Capitol Hill on Tuesday to lobby for the Employee Free Choice Act, pundits (and even Whitford himself) went wild comparing the “acting— deputy White House chief of staff to actual White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.

Physical appearances and government titles (real or imagined) aside, there’s one thing both Whitford and Emanuel probably agree on — a general dislike of Americans for Tax Reform President (and EFCA opponent) Grover Norquist.

Speaking at an American Rights at Work rally, Whitford recalled that Tuesday marked the 82nd birthday of the late labor leader César Chávez.

“I promise you, on the lives of my children, we will never, ever celebrate Grover Norquist Day,— Whitford said of the right-wing mainstay. “It’s just not going to happen.—

And later in the morning, Whitford said sarcastically: “I think Grover Norquist is one of the great minds of the 13th century.—

Whitford, who was joined by fellow “West Wing— alums Martin Sheen and Richard Schiff, certainly embraced those comparisons to Emanuel. He even channeled the chief of staff when he introduced Sheen, who played President Jed Bartlet on the series.

“I am his Rahm. If you want to talk to him, you talk to me first,— Whitford joked. “But I was on a network White House, so I can’t swear.—

Mr. Hewson Goes to Washington (Again). We should start filing these Bono-comes-to-the-Hill items in the category of business as usual. The U2 rocker and Capitol Hill regular was making the rounds on Tuesday, meeting separately with Republicans and Democrats to talk about his favorite causes: economic development and combating poverty in Africa.

The singer (garbed in his usual Washington ensemble of a black suit, black shirt and oversized, tinted glasses) met with a group of GOP Members, including House Minority Leader John Boehner (Ohio), and later in the afternoon had a confab with Dems, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.).

As always, Bono scored with both groups for his bipartisan appeals and soup-to-nuts knowledge of his subjects.

Overheard on the Hill. “Budget-ish.—

— A new word coined by the Democratic National Committee, defined thusly in the online Urban Dictionary: An adjective “of or resembling a budget. Lacks specificity such as numbers and/or ideas. Usually encased in blue glossy folder and 19-pages.— It can also be a noun, according to the entry, meaning “State requisite for GOP press conference.—

Matthew Savener contributed to this report.

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