Rep. Van Hollen sends out twisted letter

Rep. Chris Van Hollen (Md.), who chairs the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, sent out an odd letter to a Republican House aide who is also a Maryland resident.

The content was unremarkable — the sort of letter a politician would write any constituent — welcoming him as a new voter to the district and reminding him that registering to vote is “not just a right but a responsibility.”

But there’s something peculiar: The contents of the letter are entirely upside down.

“I always knew Chris Van Hollen’s views were a little backwards,” the aide wrote in an e-mail. “I just had no idea his letters were as well.”

Van Hollen’s press office did not respond to a request for comment.


Rep. Salazar finds inner child

Rep. John Salazar (D-Colo.) apparently had a hankering for a kid’s-menu lunch last Wednesday, as he was spotted in the Longworth House Office Building cafeteria cashier’s line with a mountainous plate of chicken fingers and fries.

Salazar then headed straight for the condiment bar, where he pumped a generous helping of ketchup onto his nuggets and spuds.

Salazar spokesman Eric Wortman said his boss goes down to the House cafeterias to get his own lunch about twice a week. If the congressman is really busy, he said, staffers get “worried he’s not eating” and voluntarily go to the lunchrooms to buy him food.

As for the chicken fingers and fries, Wortman said that’s not regular cuisine for Salazar.

“A lot of times it’s soup, or sometimes I’ve seen him get a hot dog,” Wortman said. “He eats a wide variety. [The chicken fingers and fries] might’ve been because that was the only short line.”


Jenny from the Block hits the Hill: Celebrity uses Obama’s staff to  become policy advocate

Now that she has conquered the movie screen and concert stage, actress and singer Jennifer Lopez would like a piece of Capitol Hill.

The reason behind her Tuesday afternoon visit to Democratic standard-bearer Barack Obama’s (Ill.) Senate office was revealed to ITK Wednesday by an Obama spokesman.

“Several members of Sen. Obama’s legislative staff met with Ms. Lopez and her pregnant sister, Lynda, to discuss issues they are interested in working on, including healthcare and education,” the spokesman said in an e-mail.

The spokesman said Lopez met with other offices, and confirmed that Obama was not there to greet the celebrity. His schedule places him in St. Louis, Mo., at the time. Lopez’s visit was not campaign-related, the spokesman said.


Rep. Wamp’s daughter is summer intern for Sen. Ensign

Rep. Zach Wamp (R-Tenn.) was spotted in an unusual place for a House lawmaker late last week. On Friday, he stood by the Ohio clock at high noon, awaiting his daughter, who is a summer intern for Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.).

Wamp was on the Senate side to convene his family for lunch. His son is also a D.C. intern this summer, but he’s with the Washington Wizards.


Lawmakers confess to marijuana lobbyist

Aaron Houston, the infamous lobbyist with the Marijuana Policy Project, says members of Congress often come to him with admissions of drug use.

“I get confessions from staffers and other politicos, including MOCs [members of Congress] pretty regularly, perhaps even once per week or so, and sometimes a lot more,” Houston told ITK. “It almost just comes up naturally every time I talk with someone about my work.”

Perhaps Houston, who won’t say whether he partakes in smoking marijuana, is deserving of recognition for being so well-informed about the lawmakers he lobbies. Last week, Politics magazine named him a “rising star” of 2008. Some may recall Houston’s appearance earlier this year on “The Colbert Report,” in which the host pretended to have the munchies throughout the interview, inhaling a bag of Doritos.   

 
Hunky ‘Desperate Housewives’ star visits Latino lawmakers


Many know him as Eva Longoria’s husband with mobster ties on ABC’s “Desperate Housewives.” In person, Ricardo Chavira, who plays Carlos Solis, is as down-to-earth as a TV star gets.

Last week he visited Capitol Hill for the first time and met with a number of Latino lawmakers on an issue that has touched his life deeply — cancer. When he was 15, his mother died of breast and ovarian cancer.

“I remember my sister stepping up and was a mother to us,” the dark-haired, dark-eyed Chavira said. “My sister is still dealing with a lot of personal issues because of what she endured and how she had to stay home and play mom.”

Chavira was visiting on behalf of the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure.

First stop: Rep. Charles Gonzalez’s (D-Texas) office.

Gonzalez has known Chavira’s father, a San Antonio lawyer, for 30 years. “He remembers me as a little chavelito running around the courthouse,” Chavira said of Gonzalez.

Though the mood was jovial, the subject was serious.

“Now, señor,” Chavira began, “my father was diagnosed last year with renal cell carcinoma.” Thankfully, he has received treatment and, for now, is in the clear.

Gonzalez assured Chavira that Congress could help with funding for cancer research and other related measures.

“As you know, Democrats are huge when it comes to health,” Gonzalez said. “I think things are going to get a lot better.”

What the congressman could not promise was that he’d start watching “Desperate Housewives.”

“I can’t believe it!” Chavira said, playfully chiding the congressman for not watching his show. “I’m devastated.”

Gonzalez protested, “I only watch the news shows!


Former Sensenbrenner aide gives birth to baby boy

Lora and Matt Ries welcomed their baby, William Matthew Ries, into the world on May 19. Lora is a senior consultant to Monument Policy Group LLC in Washington and formerly was counsel to the House Judiciary Committee under then-Chairman James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-Wis.).