Heard on the Hill: Work of Art

Posted September 14, 2009 at 6:35pm

Just a few weeks after being sprung from the pokey, former Rep. Jim Traficant (D-Ohio) has re-entered the spotlight, making the rounds on the cable news shows and even announcing that he’s thinking about running for Congress.

[IMGCAP(1)]But it appears the eccentric Traficant also is getting in touch with his charitable side, as three of his kitschy acrylic paintings are said to have been put up for auction on eBay, with proceeds benefiting an Ohio charity.

The pieces — one depicting the late singer Elvis Presley, another of cartoon character Betty Boop and a third of a “Stylized Horse— — were donated by Traficant’s wife, Tish, and proceeds will go to the Delphi Salaried Retiree Association, according to the seller’s descriptions on the site. All include the picture of a moon with an “M— written over it, which is Traficant’s tribute to actress Mae West, the descriptions add.

“I had no idea our former Sheriff and Congressman was so talented,— one description reads.

As of press time, the bids for all three pieces stood at about $100, and bidding is scheduled to last until Sunday.

HOH wasn’t able to determine if the artwork is authentic Traficant — our requests for comment to the seller and the retiree association were not returned by press time. But we will note that Traficant did take up painting during his seven years in prison, where he served out his sentence for bribery and racketeering.

Poster-Cards From the Edge. With its plan to write out the entire text of the health care bill in chalk on the steps of the Capitol seemingly stalled, a nonpartisan group urging Members of Congress to actually read bills before they vote on them will deliver postcards to Congressional offices pushing its cause.

We’re talking really, really big postcards.

Read to Vote is a newly formed nonpartisan group that recently launched a $750,000 marketing campaign to convince every Member of Congress to pledge to read the full text of any bill before voting on it.

Although the group wants Members to read every bill that crosses their desks, their immediate focus is on health care legislation. So group members and volunteers will deliver the giant “poster-cards,— which will have the entire text of America’s Affordable Health Choices Act on them, sometime in the next few days, co-founder Eric Yaverbaum told HOH.

Of course, the bill’s text is going to have to be typed in itty-bitty font. “They’ll need their reading glasses,— Yaverbaum joked.

Originally, the group planned to gather 1,018 volunteers to write the text of the legislation in chalk on the Capitol steps. But the Capitol Police have not responded to their request for permission to do that, so the group decided it needed a new tactic.

“I really don’t understand what’s that offensive about the idea,— Yaverbaum said. “It’s chalk, it will be gone in the first rain.—

A Capitol Police spokeswoman did not return HOH’s request for comment by press time.

About 30,000 people have signed Read to Vote’s online pledge to read the health care bill. And Yaverbaum insisted that the goal of the campaign isn’t “for the stunt of chalking the steps— but rather to convince politicians, and Americans across the country, to study the substance of the bill (and indeed all other pieces of legislation) rather than the hype surrounding it.

“We’re arguing over sound bites,— Yaverbaum said. “We need to be arguing over facts.—

Prayers for Joe. They’ve prayed to lower gas prices, prayed in memory of Michael Jackson and late Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), and now the folks behind the “Pray at the Pump— movement plan to pray for Rep. Joe Wilson.

The “prayer warriors— plan to hold an “emergency Capitol Hill prayer vigil— for the South Carolina Republican on the West Front of the Capitol today, organizer Rocky Twyman told HOH. Organizers will pray for Wilson to apologize for his now-infamous “You lie!— outburst during President Barack Obama’s speech Wednesday night,

“We just want to pray that God will touch Congressman Joe Wilson’s heart [today], that he will come and apologize for what he said,— Twyman said.

Prayer warriors also will call on Obama to hold a “Congressional Day of Prayer Summit— at the White House, kind of like the White House beer summit held earlier this year — only with prayer as the focus. “We thought that wasn’t the message you want to send out, that you can solve problems over a beer,— Twyman said.

Famous Friends. HOH hears that Rep. Doris Matsui joined celebrities such as talk-show host Jimmy Fallon and political VIPs including Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Caroline Kennedy at an event in New York on Friday honoring the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

The California Democrat was the only House Member to speak at the 9/11 National Day of Service and Remembrance event, held at the Beacon Theatre, spokeswoman Mara Lee tells HOH. New York Sens. Charles Schumer (D) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D) also attended the event, which urged Americans to volunteer in their communities each year on the anniversary of the attacks.

Other celebrities who took the stage included musicians such as Gavin DeGraw, the Roots and Anjulie.

Overheard on the Hill. “Due to a scheduling conflict, we have had to postpone Congressman Wilson’s 6th Annual Hilton Head Golf Outing on October 2 & 3. We are working on rescheduling and will let you know once we do. We apologize for any inconvenience.—

— An e-mail sent Monday from fundraising organizers for embattled Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.). HOH notes that Wilson might not even need to reschedule: He has raised more than $1.5 million since his “You lie!— outburst against President Barack Obama on Wednesday night.

“Random Fact: My Dad took me to the 1999 MTV awards when I was 14, famous for Lil Kim’s nipple pasty. I wore a BRIGHT pink dress and candies.—

— Meghan McCain, reminiscing on the perks of being the daughter of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), in a Twitter posting Sunday night.

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