Heard on the Hill: Surprise Farewell Party for Snyder

Posted May 26, 2010 at 6:28pm

Rep. Vic Snyder often wears, shall we say, rather unique ties. So when Members, staffers, military members and others surprised the Arkansas Democrat with a retirement party Tuesday evening, one of the special touches at the event was a cake featuring three of Snyder’s famously bold ties etched out in the icing.

Fittingly, Snyder showed up to the party wearing one of those ties — a sporty blue one with soccer balls on it.

Snyder is retiring from Congress to spend more time with his four young sons (including triplets!). And at a friendly farewell in the Rayburn House Office Building, friends and colleagues recalled Snyder’s years of service, from his dedication to the military to frequent appearances at embassy soirees around town.

Judging from the Congressman’s laid-back reaction as he walked in the room, it appeared he caught wind of the celebration beforehand, party organizer (and Snyder staffer) Katie Hargis said. “But I think he’s surprised by the people who are here,” she added.

Dozens of Members showed up for the bash, including Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) and fellow Arkansas Reps. Marion Berry (D) and John Boozman (R). Others on hand included Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), Barney Frank (D-Mass.), Charlie Wilson (D-Ohio), Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) and Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.), as well as top officials from nearby embassies and high-ranking military members.

Rep. Susan Davis (D-Calif.) — who is part of a special group, which includes Snyder, that goes on morning walks — read aloud a thank-you letter from Gen. David Petraeus and presented Snyder with a special commander’s coin that Petraeus sent over.

Snyder, who sipped wine during Davis’ tribute, joked, “This is a lot like being at your own funeral.” That led to a retort from Blumenauer, who quipped: “You’d be better dressed.”

No Swingers Left Unturned

The race between Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Republican Sue Lowden is getting ugly, and mudslingers are going way back to find dirt. A Democratic tipster dug up an amusing tidbit about Lowden: A hotel owned by her husband was the setting for wild-and-crazy swingers’ conventions in the 1980s.

According to news articles, the North American Swing Club Association — which has absolutely nothing to do with golf, but rather the practice of keys-in-the-bowl partner-swapping — held its annual conventions for at least several years at the Hacienda Hotel and Casino on the Las Vegas strip. That property was one of the hotels owned by Lowden’s husband, Paul, until he sold it in 1995.

A 1987 Los Angeles Times story set at the swingers’ gathering describes “convention exhibitors … hawking sex toys and explicit publications.”

A 1989 book titled “Desires: Sex in America” has a more colorful description of the scene at the Hacienda: “a dazzling bazaar of sexual merchandise … porn stars with epic cleavages …”

Other articles said the swingers met at the Hacienda in 1984 and 1985, as well.

Now, we’re not saying Lowden is directly involved with the swinging festivities; we’re just passing on an interesting confluence. Our Dem tipster, though, made a little more of it, noting that Lowden is courting “family values” voters and her family business profited from a “seedy” event. “I wonder how many chickens it cost to rent a floor of the Hacienda to do this,” the source pondered.

Lowden spokeswoman Crystal Feldman snapped back that Reid recently said he’s “not opposed to sex.” She says the hotels have hosted all kinds of events, including ones for Catholic and pro-gun groups, and noted that Lowden didn’t have business ties to the hotel in the swingin’ ’80s.

“It’s another swing-and-miss. … As they’ve done throughout their effort to influence the Republican primary, these liberals won’t allow stubborn facts to get in the way,” Feldman said.

On Spike’s Summer Menu: a Book, Pizza and a Pool

Chef Spike Mendelsohn continues his D.C. takeover.

The one-time “Top Chef” contestant just released “The Good Stuff Cookbook,” which features recipes inspired by dishes at his Pennsylvania Avenue burger joint, Good Stuff Eatery. During a media event celebrating the book’s release Wednesday, Mendelsohn told HOH that he’s got more good stuff in the works, including hosting Sunday pool parties at the Capitol Skyline Hotel for the second summer in a row.

Plus, in a month or two, he hopes to open his new pizzeria, We, the Pizza, next door to Good Stuff Eatery.

“I don’t want to give an exact date because it’s the restaurant business,” he jokes.

Mendelsohn expects many Members of Congress will stop by the pizzeria, as Good Stuff Eatery has proven popular among the Capitol Hill set. Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) often stops by to grab a milkshake, he says.

“I don’t recognize a lot of them,” Mendelsohn admits. “But a lot of people who come in do and get excited.”

Mendelsohn did remain mum as to whether he’ll pop up on the new season of “Top Chef,” which was filmed in Washington. But he is excited that D.C. will be in the spotlight. “I’ve been petitioning for them to come here for the past two years,” Mendelsohn says.

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