Heard on the Hill: The Salahis’ Invisible Man

Posted December 1, 2009 at 6:35pm

As the Washington chattering class dissects what’s real and what’s not about the state-dinner-crashing Virginia couple (their invites to the swanky dinner? a family fortune? her blond tresses?), sources tell HOH that David Mortz, an aide to the charity polo event they organize, is a fabrication.

[IMGCAP(1)]Tareq and Michaele Salahi, who attended the White House state dinner last week despite not being on the guest list, are the organizers behind America’s Polo Cup, an annual match held in the Washington area.

Mortz is listed as a press contact for that event, and he is quoted in a handful of news outlets as a spokesman or an aide to Tareq Salahi. Mortz has nearly 2,500 friends on his Facebook page.

But according to several knowledgeable sources, Mortz doesn’t exist.

“He’s someone they made up to handle the polo event, to make it look more legitimate,— one source says. “No one’s ever seen him, and he only ever responds by Facebook or e-mail.—

Another source says she was at an event at which Mortz was supposed to speak. But he never showed up, she says. Others who would have expected to meet Mortz, either through their involvement in the polo event or other social events to which his name was attached, say they’ve never laid eyes on him. The pictures on his Facebook page are mostly snapshots of polo matches, and HOH couldn’t reach anyone who recalled meeting him personally.

E-mails to Mortz’s Facebook page went unanswered, and callers to a telephone number listed as his on a press release hear only a message saying the voice mailbox is full. A call to Mahogany Jones, the Salahis’ publicist, went unreturned.

Spamalot in the House. Too many e-mails clogging up the old inbox: It’s a familiar malady, and one that’s apparently plaguing House Democratic schedulers.

Some schedulers are getting ticked off by the overwhelming number of mundane queries their fellow schedulers are posting on an e-mail list that goes out to all the chamber’s Democratic aides tasked with maintaining their bosses’ calendars.

Looks like a bit of spam finally broke the camel’s back. Several of them struck back on Tuesday, telling their colleagues to ease off on the “send— button.

Jennifer Sypolt, the scheduler for Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.), sent an e-mail encouraging others to rely less on random “are we done yet?— queries to the group. Sypolt urged schedulers to “take a little time to educate ourselves and talk with our legislative staff— before throwing questions out to the group. “I want the holiday break to be here just as soon as possible, just like everyone else, but I also don’t want to be hitting delete, delete, delete all day long — its makes for a very counterproductive day,— she wrote.

Her point was echoed by Nanette Ladell Spencer, scheduler for Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas), who sent out a lengthy (uh, we thought the point was to lighten the load) missive reinforcing the call to cut back on e-mails.

“It boggles my mind that people have such free time to simply and repetitively ask the same questions over and over, never make an effort to find out anything on their [own] especially when everyone has heard of google,— she wrote.

Sypolt wouldn’t comment on her message, but Spencer told HOH that she’s received at least 20 e-mails (not sent to the group, thankfully) giving her props for calling out the spammers.

Pretty in Pink. A casual observer might have thought the Senate was producing a revival of the musical “Grease— on Tuesday, considering Sens. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) appeared to be channeling the production’s girl gang, the Pink Ladies.

But don’t expect the trio to belt out a rendition of “Summer Nights,— as the Senators were dressed in the bubble-gum hue to promote an amendment that would guarantee women access to no-cost health care screenings as part of health care reform.

Mikulski clearly was the group’s Betty Rizzo, leading the effort on the Senate floor while wearing a bright pink button-up shirt. She also thanked Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) for their support, calling them “men of quality.— (Perhaps Reid and Dodd are the chamber’s T-Birds?)

Boxer wore a bright pink suit, while Shaheen sported a pink suit jacket. Several other Democratic female Senators also spoke about the legislation (although not all wore pink) including Sens. Patty Murray (Wash.), Kay Hagan (N.C.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.).

The Senate Pink Ladies weren’t the only ones wearing color-coordinated outfits on Tuesday, however. Several Members wore red in honor of World AIDS Day.

Someone’s in the Kitchen With the Emanuel Brothers. The Emanuel brothers don’t come off as particularly domestic guys, which might be why they took a baking class the day after Thanksgiving.

HOH hears that Office of Management and Budget adviser Zeke Emanuel and Hollywood super-agent Ari Emanuel (sans their brother, White House Chief of Staff Rahm) gathered with their kids for a lesson on making rugelach with local baker Polly Brown.

Brown, whose handmade treats are sold at local venues, tells HOH that the brothers Emanuel were “enthusiastic— students. And perhaps more unexpectedly, they left politics out of the kitchen, instead keeping the conversation about the sweeter matters at hand.

“I’m sure they had had enough of that for a while,— Brown tells us.

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