In the know

The mystery of the Capitol’s fourth floor  

Capitol Police have insisted it doesn’t exist. Hill types in general look stupefied when asked about it. But indeed, there is a fourth floor in the Capitol.

What happens there, however, is a bit of mystery. An ITK source insists that there is a secure conference area where members hold intelligence briefings. On the Senate side, a staircase behind the Radio & TV Gallery on the third floor leads up to various undisclosed offices, including Massachusetts Democratic Sens. Edward Kennedy’s and John Kerry’s hideaways.

When asked if the public is allowed on the fourth floor, Kim Schneider, a spokeswoman for the Capitol Police, replied, “What’s up there?” She phoned back a little while later to say, “The fourth floor is restricted. It is not for public use.” Schneider didn’t know who was allowed on the fourth floor. She said there were various ways of accessing the fourth floor, including several staircases.


 
Former page says rules were very strict

Lucas Mette, a former House page who served in the summer of 2002 when he was 16, says rules for pages were ultra-strict. He recounted some of them in an article published recently in the Washington University of St. Louis’s Political Review magazine. The college senior spoke to ITK in greater detail.

“We had a huge regulation book,” Mette recalled. “At the end of [several] pages there was a disclaimer: ‘This list is not exhaustive. This is not the entire list of rules,’ meaning just because you haven’t violated one of these rules doesn’t mean you won’t get into trouble.”

Mette recalled mandatory meetings held at the page dorm. In one, a D.C. police officer came to speak about safety; in another, a lawyer came to discuss sexual harassment policies and what to do if it happens.

Various rules included: 1) Don’t play in the fountains; 2) Don’t loiter in the stairwells; and 3) No kissing.

Mette had a couple of page friends who were caught making out in a park and reported to the page authorities. He remarked that the rules “kind of made you feel like you were living in early 20th century Russia. But it was all good.”

Mette, who was sponsored by then-Rep. David Phelps (D-Ill.), never met ex-Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.). His favorite lawmakers included outgoing Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R-Ariz.) — “He was a terribly friendly guy” — and Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.).  

Mette plans to attend law school upon graduation.


 
Sen. Pryor: the mailman

Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) was passing out hand-addressed notes to chosen Democrats on Monday afternoon. They were, in fact, notes of congratulation written by his dad, former Sen. David Pryor (D-Ark.), who served from 1978 to 1996.

Lucky letter receivers included Sens. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.), Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) and Kennedy.


 
Sen. Levin: Your suit is ready

The typically rumpled Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) has purchased a new suit. And now that he’s in the majority and in line to chair the Armed Services Committee, perhaps he needs to step up his fashion game and actually pick up the suit so he can wear it.

According to an ITK spy, a coat salesman at the new Macy’s at Metro Center said that he recently sold Levin a nice dark Perry Ellis suit. “But then he never picked it up, and it’s just sitting around in the back closet,” the spy said. 

A Perry Ellis suit is relatively cheap in the world of suits. Such a suit at Macy’s can run you anywhere from $200 to $300.

The spy said he believes the suit is navy, but he can’t be sure. “It was dark, we were poking through a back closet,” he said.

Levin’s office did not return calls on the matter.


 
Rep. Hayworth refuses to concede

Lawmaker associated with “fat lady” expression

Politics can be so mean.  In an attack posting on freerepublic.com, a blogger named “truthkeeper,” writes that the “Fat Lady Hasn’t Sung in JD Hayworth Race Just Yet.”

Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R-Ariz.) has not yet conceded what likely is his lost race to Democrat Harry Mitchell.  The entry refers to Hayworth’s declaration to KABC radio’s Sean Hannity that his race is not yet over and therefore he will not concede.

Exactly who is the “fat lady” in this scenario? Is the liberal blog taking pot shots at the congressman’s physique, or was it just a harmless expression?

It’s hard to say. But the truth is, Hayworth is no longer overweight and should not even be associated with a “fat lady” expression. In August 2003, he had gastric bypass surgery and in recent years has been seen as cutting a noticeably slimmer figure.

Matt Lambert, Hayworth’s press secretary, said his boss has no current plans to concede. “Well, if we lose,” he said laughing. “Still waiting for the votes to be counted.”

When asked how his boss feels about possibly being compared to a “fat lady,” Lambert replied, “I’m not even going to touch that. You think I’m going to touch that? Nuh huh, no dice.”

How is Hayworth doing? “He’s good, he’s here,” he said. “He’s getting ready for the legislative day.”  


 
Sen. Burns: bitter on the Senate subway

Sen. Conrad Burns (R-Mont.) was in a state of barely controlled rage Monday as he rode the Capitol subway to his office. Bristling with anger, his lips were taut as he responded to questions about the Senate appropriations process and what would happen with the remaining bills.

“I don’t know,” he said. “But if I did know, I wouldn’t tell you. ”

And then, dripping with sarcasm, he launched into a tirade against the Fourth Estate: “The press are such nice people and so smart.” At that point Burns shaped his hand like a small vice.

“And so smart,” he continued.

When a reporter remarked that the senator shouldn’t put all reporters in the same boat, he didn’t let up. “I will,” he replied. Then he returned to his apparent new mantra: “You are such nice people.”

What’s Burns going to do next? After an awkward silence, he said, with a look of disgust, “I’m going to move back to Montana. Why would I stay here, in this?” A thought later, his expression softened ever so slightly and he added, “I’ll probably have to move back here if it means money.”


 
Wait! Don’t move to Canada!

Liberal author can stay here after all

Bill Scher, author of the recently published “Wait! Don’t Move to Canada: A Stay-and-Fight Strategy to Win Back America,” must be breathing a sigh of relief now that Democrats have won both the House and Senate. The book’s title was right on time.

In a recent interview at a Washington, D.C. Starbucks, the editor of liberaloasis.com and liberal commentator on Air America Radio answered tough questions any liberal faces.

What does it feel like to be a liberal right now? “After the election in 2004, I felt liberals and Democrats [had been] punched in the gut,” Scher said. “There was a certain amount of demoralization. I felt what we needed was a roadmap to get us back on track.”

Why is liberal such a dirty word? “There is a troublesome stigma that is attached to the word,” he said. “Because of that stigma, people have tried to move away from it. It gives conservatives free reign to use it as a slur.”

What are your thoughts on the war? “I’m against the Iraq war for sure and I genuinely think war is a bad tactic,” he said. And on taxes? “Liberals just want a tax system that is fair and adequate.” On abortion? “Pro-choice.”

Who does he want to be the next president? “[Sen.] Russ Feingold [D-Wis.].” (Feingold is not running.)

Least favorite political TV host: “[Fox News’s] Sean Hannity.”

Have you ever been to Canada? “When I was a kid, I went to Toronto and Montreal. Montreal is very nice, good croissants.” 

Car he drives: “Volkswagen Jetta.”

Food he eats: “Meat.”


 
McKinney’s replacement meets with cop congresswoman punched   

In one of his first acts as a member of Congress, Rep.-elect Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) met this week with Officer Paul McKenna, the Capitol Hill Police Officer who was punched with a cell phone by outgoing Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-Ga.).

The story, first reported by Atlanta-based Channel 2 Action News by reporter Scott MacFarlane, said that Johnson sought out McKenna to thank him after the “high profile” run in with McKinney. Johnson said he felt “it was important to meet Mr. McKenna” upon arriving in Washington.


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