Heard on the Hill: O’Donnell Goes to the Mattresses

Posted September 15, 2010 at 5:30pm

Correction Appended

Typical expenses for Congressional campaigns: BlackBerrys. Computers. A mattress?

Much-buzzed-about Delaware Republican Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell lists a rather odd $545.98 purchase from Mattress Giant on her Sept. 2 pre-primary filings with the Federal Election Commission. The purpose of the disbursement is listed as a “staffing expense” and was made July 1, according to the report.

HOH contacted O’Donnell’s campaign to find out why she would spend more than $500 at a mattress store — you can insert your own inappropriate joke here — but we didn’t hear back by press time.

Using campaign money for seemingly domestic purchases isn’t entirely new to O’Donnell, however. Back in March, the News Journal of Delaware reported that O’Donnell pays half her rent with campaign funds because she uses her town house as her campaign headquarters.

O’Donnell’s campaign also spent $158.38 for office furniture at Walmart in August.

Last-Second Heroics

Lobbyists are a powerful force in Washington … but that power doesn’t exactly translate to the basketball court.

A team of Members beat a team of lobbyists 37-36 in Tuesday night’s Hoops for Hope charity basketball game. The win came courtesy of Keith Stern, a staffer for Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) who was subbing for Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.).

Doing his best Robert Horry impression, Stern made a free throw with a half-second on the clock to seal the victory. “I have to say the pressure’s on when six Members of Congress tell you to make a free throw to win the game,” he says. “As a staffer, you can only do one thing — say ‘yes, sir’ and try like hell to make the shot.”

HOH hears that Rep. John Boccieri (D-Ohio) and Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) were also key to the Members’ win, as both hit several 3-pointers.

Congressional staff also took on a team of lobbyists in a game proceeding the Members’ bout. Lobbyists lost that one, too, with the staffers prevailing in a 57-50 victory (their sixth in a row). Proceeds from the event go to the Hoops for Youth Foundation.

Washington Has Members and Musicians and Actors, Oh My!

Forget Los Angeles — Washington was a hotbed of celebrity activity Wednesday.

“Desperate Housewives” star Eva Longoria Parker came to Capitol Hill to promote her documentary, “The Harvest.” The actress co-produced the film, which follows migrant child workers in the United States. Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Calif.) was also on hand to push legislation to raise the minimum age for child workers.

“It seems like a brainless act to pass,” Longoria Parker says. “I don’t understand the resistance to it.”

While Longoria Parker was on the Hill, Oscar-winning actor Denzel Washington — swoon! — was downtown at the National Press Club. The star came to help the Boys & Girls Clubs of America announce new efforts to lower the high school dropout rate. The actor, an alumnus of the organization, says it helped him realize his potential while keeping him on the straight and narrow.

“We need more programs like the Boys & Girls Clubs during the hours that our children are out of school,” he says. After the morning presser, the star went to the White House to meet with President Barack Obama.

But wait, there’s more! Country crooner Big Kenny of the band Big and Rich made an afternoon appearance on Capitol Hill.

Big Kenny planned to lobby Members about ending mountaintop-removal coal mining, a cause that he became aware of several years ago after looking out a plane window and noticing forests being chopped down.

Big Kenny was uncertain which Members he was visiting, but he said he hoped to meet with those from Virginia, his home state.

Do I Have an Opening Bid?

While most Congressional candidates are busy with poll numbers, auctioneer-turned-politician Jeff Duncan is busy taking bids.

Duncan, a South Carolina Republican running for Congress, is nearly guaranteed a win. He won his primary and isn’t facing any serious opposition.

So while other candidates are stuck on the campaign trail, Duncan came to Washington on Wednesday for the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation’s annual banquet and auction, held at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill. And Duncan came to do more than just hobnob.

Duncan offered his company, J. Duncan & Associates, to oversee the auction, which featured pistols, shotguns, fishing trips, hunting trips and even the opportunity to get behind the wheel of a race car at the Bridgestone Racing Academy.

Duncan’s company has helped with the foundation’s auction for years, but this time was special because he’s about to join the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus as a Member of Congress.

Interestingly, Duncan might not be the only auctioneer elected this cycle. Republican Congressional candidate Billy Long, who is running in Missouri, has worked as an auctioneer for more than 30 years.

Kaitlin Kovach contributed to today’s HOH.

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Correction: Sept. 21, 2010

The “Do I Have an Opening Bid?” section incorrectly stated that GOP Congressional candidate Jeff Duncan isn’t facing Democratic opposition for South Carolina’s 3rd district seat. He is facing Democrat Jane Dyer.