By Betsy Rothstein - 03/06/07 08:01 PM EST
100 cigars for Rep. Tom Tancredo
Lawmaker refers to Rep. Ellison as a ‘lifestyle Nazi’
The recent standoff between Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.) and his Longworth House Office Building neighbor, freshman Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), has prompted Tancredo sympathizers — including Ellison constituents — to send Tancredo cigars.
In the last two weeks, Tancredo has received 100 in total, three of which came from people in Ellison’s Minneapolis-area district. “We have cigars all over the joint!” Tancredo boasted last week.
Ellison’s press aide, Rick Jauert, recently called the Capitol Police on his boss’s behalf after he alleged smelling smoke and seeing it come through the walls from Tancredo’s office.
To be safe, Tancredo checked with the House ethics committee to find out whether he could keep the cigars. He said he contemplated giving them away. “If I have to donate them, who am I going to donate them to?” he asked. He has since been assured that he can keep them.
Tancredo, who has three air purifiers in his office, said he thought about sending Ellison “an air cleaner, but I think I’m going to send an exorcist,” he said, expressing doubt that smoke really traveled through Ellison’s walls.
At Friday’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), Tancredo further remarked on the incident, saying, “I live in a place run by what I refer to as the lifestyle Nazis here in Washington, D.C., that don’t let you do things like smoke in public places, for God’s sake. I want to tell you in my office, anyway, you can smoke … even though my next-door neighbor doesn’t like it.”
Ellison’s office had no comment on the matter.
Reps. Mike Simpson and Bill Sali break bread in House Dining Room
Perhaps it’s better that Idaho’s House delegation, made up of Republican Reps. Mike Simpson and Bill Sali, break bread now rather than later, when Simpson could be hurling Sali out a window.
We love to joke over here at ITK.
The truth is, in a gesture of good will and reconciliation, Sali asked Simpson to lunch last week to ask for advice and smooth over any rough edges since their days in the Idaho legislature, when Simpson, then Speaker of the House, really did threaten to throw Sali out a window over a disagreement on legislation.
During lunch in the House Dining Room, Sali, who ordered the pot roast blue plate special, told Simpson he wanted to repair their relationship. “I know I have some work to do on some relationships and one of them is with you,” Sali told Simpson. Simpson told him there was no need: All has been forgiven and he will help him best serve their Idaho constituents.
Aw, come on, not even a little food fight? Not even a little Idaho mashed potatoes in the face?
“It was excellent,” assured Simpson, who had the chicken Caesar. “There’s an old saying, if two people in a business [always] agree then one isn’t necessary. The same is the case for Bill and I.”
By the way, the window incident never came up during lunch; neither did the fact that when Simpson made the original threat, a colleague told Simpson to take Sali to the fourth floor of the Idaho Capitol — the third floor, he said, was not high enough.
Rep. Conyers: definitely glad to be leaving Las Vegas
“It was kind of lousy,” House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) said of his recent trip to Las Vegas.
Conyers stayed at the Luxor Hotel on the famed strip. “I didn’t know they had such modest places,” the chairman said. “No refrigerator, no snacks, nothing.”
Conyers didn’t gamble. “I’m a lousy gambler,” he said. “This job has enough risk in it.”
What’s more, he said, the scene was depressing: “You see these little old ladies in housedresses and you know they’re playing their Social Security money.”
Rep. Poe interrupted by own cell phone ring
Not even the Lone Ranger could save GOP Reps. Ted Poe (Texas), Dana Rohrabacher (Calif.) and Tom Tancredo (Colo.) as they tried to hold a press conference in the House Radio & TV Gallery last week.
In addition to Yours Truly, just one reporter, Peggy Sands Orchowski, a freelancer for Hispanic Outlook Magazine, showed. The topic: Lawmakers asserted that U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton misled the public about evidence in his handling of a case against two Border Patrol agents, Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean, who are serving lengthy prison terms.
During Poe’s speech, his cell phone began ringing to the tune of the “William Tell Overture” — also known as the theme to “The Lone Ranger” TV show — and wouldn’t cease. The ring threatened to interrupt him, but he barreled on despite the cowboy accompaniment.
After all lawmakers had finished speaking, it was time for questions. But Tancredo was out the door with Poe hot on his heels when Rohrabacher pleaded, “Judge, come back!”
Reluctantly, Poe, a former felony court judge in Houston, returned to the near-empty room.
Later asked about his “Lone Ranger” cell phone ring, Poe laughed and said, “He’s my hero.”
Tara Setmayer, communications director for Rohrabacher, was floored by Poe’s cell phone ringtone because the Rohrabacher office theme song is also the “William Tell Overture.” “We’re always flying by the seat of our pants because he’s always on the go because he’s in such demand over this case. Every time we go in the car we have it on CD and we play it. So I almost died,” she said.
Sen. Conrad forgoes jar of kidney beans
Compared to a thick, juicy steak from the Capital Grille, or a golfing trip to Scotland, a jar of kidney beans is a pretty lame gift.
But such is life on Capitol Hill under the new gift ban. And lawmakers are running away from gifts, even the crappy ones.
Last week, Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), on behalf of Kidney Care Partners, convened with the group in the Capitol’s Mansfield room. One of the group’s speakers, Ed Jones, introduced Conrad and presented him with a fat glass jar of kidney beans.
“Oh, before I forget — I was assured that this had no net value,” Jones said. Conrad later spoke of the beans and said, “Well, I’m glad you mentioned there’s no net value for this because now, instead of going to the White House, [lawmakers] go to the Big House.”
Conrad, who apparently had no need for his gift, left the kidney beans on the mantle. Thankfully, a trusty staffer retrieved them and brought them back to the office.
“Sen. Conrad knows the kidney care bill is worth much more than a hill of beans, or in this case, a jar of beans,” said Conrad spokesman Chris Thorne. “It’s there with all the other things people give him. It’s next to a model of a boat someone gave him, and baseball memorabilia. He certainly meant no disrespect to anybody [by leaving it there].”
Abercrombie spotted in a fresh-flowered pink lei
Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D-Hawaii) was proudly wearing a string of fuchsia orchids around his neck last week. The gift came from his friends at the Humpback Whale Sanctuary in Maui.
When asked what the folks at the whale sanctuary wanted from him, he replied, somewhat aghast, “It’s a symbol of friendship and wellness and affection, which is the story of Hawaii.”