By Jeff Dufour - 05/23/06 12:00 AM EDT
The chairman of the North Carolina Democratic Party called on the House ethics committee last week to investigate Rep. Charles Taylor (R-N.C.) for his ties to corrupt lobbyist Jack Abramoff.
Yet the eighth-term congressman may have had more pressing problems to deal with over the weekend. The Transylvania County Health Department issued Taylor a notice of violation last Tuesday that calls rental property he owns a “public health nuisance.”
“There are several bags of household garbage — sort of a mound of it — next to an abandoned mobile home on his property,” Jim Boyer, environmental health supervisor for the county, told the Asheville Citizen-Times.
Neighbors told the paper it looked like a “trash dump.”
The Health Department has given Taylor until June 15 to clean it up.
His press secretary, Deborah Potter, told the Hill the property “absolutely” was trashed, but it was the fault of a family to whom he leased the property and that he’s begun eviction proceedings.
“You can’t control how some people live,” she said.
Taylor faces a strong challenge this year from Democrat Heath Shuler, a former NFL quarterback. No word from the Shuler camp on how tidy Heath keeps his own property.
Baseball great throws support to Ford
It was too good an offer to refuse, and Rep. Harold Ford Jr. (D-Tenn.) didn’t waste any time accepting it.
It was from former baseball pitching star Tommy John, who told Ford that he would campaign for his Senate bid if he’d agree to co-sponsor legislation to create a national registry for victims of the ailment known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
“You don’t even need to tell me what’s in the bill,” Ford told him. “The answer is yes.”
John, whose 288 career wins over a 26-year career makes him a prime candidate for baseball’s Hall of Fame, joined several hundred members of the ALS Association, all wearing “Strike Out ALS” buttons, in lobbying members of Congress last week for federal support of research on the disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS.
John, who lives in Charlotte, N.C., became involved in the cause when fellow major-league pitcher Catfish Hunter was stricken with ALS, an invariably fatal neurological disorder that afflicts more than 70,000 Americans.
“It just killed me to see him wither away,” said John, who paid visits to a half-dozen members, including Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) and Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Reps. Vito Fossella (R-N.Y.) and Sue Myrick (R-N.C.).
Coincidentally, like Gehrig, the 63-year-old left-handed pitcher’s name is also forever linked to a medical problem. In 1974, as he was having one of his best seasons for the Los Angeles Dodgers, John tore a ligament in his pitching arm. That unique reconstructive operation that prolonged his career for 15 more years is now known as Tommy John surgery.
In their impromptu meeting just off the House floor, John promised Ford that he’ll come to Tennessee to stump for him.
Cantor pays tribute to his hometown ‘Idol’
It wasn’t just “American Idol” crooner Elliott Yamin and his ever-present mom who were teary-eyed over his ouster from the hit show last week. Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) was pretty broken up too.
Cantor took to the House floor last week to congratulate the Richmond pharmacy clerk-turned-TV celebrity for having made it to the top three.
“Elliott is returning home a star,” Cantor raved, “a man with an extraordinary gift who dared to put his talent on display and achieved great success.”
That outpouring prompted us to wonder where Rep. Howard Coble (R-N.C.) was the week before, when the North Carolina-native and Chris Daughtry was shockingly voted off.
“It got so busy last week we didn’t have time to consider doing something,” explained Coble’s chief of staff, Ed McDonald, reassuring The Hill that the issue “had been discussed.”
No word yet on whom Cantor and Coble are rooting for now that the home-state favorites are out. The likable yet colorless Yamin was the last contestant voted off before tonight’s finals between sensuous Los Angeles-native Katharine McPhee and the soulful, Birmingham-bred Taylor Hicks. Are more Congressional Record tributes to follow from Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) or Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.)?
Brownback loves his shoes
Carrie Bradshaw, the shoe-obsessed lead character on “Sex and the City,” would likely have a few kind words for Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), despite her blue-state values.
Late last week, Brownback introduced a total of 17 bills to suspend temporarily the duties on different types of footwear.
Among the offerings: S. 2847, to “reduce temporarily the duty on certain footwear with open toes or heels,” and the more catchall S. 2845, affecting “certain women’s footwear.” S. 2837, for the leather lover, would reduce the duty on “certain leather and textile footwear,” while S. 2838, affecting “certain rubber or plastic footwear,” keeps the pleather lover pleased.
Stay-at-home moms aren’t left out either: S. 2850 would “reduce temporarily the duty on certain house slippers.”
And on it goes, to cover certain footwear for men, certain other work footwear, certain athletic shoes and certain athletic footwear for men and boys.
We only got confused when it came to S. 2835, which would suspend the duty on “certain leather footwear for persons other than men or women.” Which leaves what, exactly? Humanoids? Extraterrestrials?
AIPAC, McCollum in case of he said, she said
Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.) said she’s cutting off all contact with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) after her chief of staff had a heated exchange with an AIPAC activist.
Last month, McCollum was one of only two members of the House International Relations Committee to vote against H.R. 4681, the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act of 2006, which would place conditions on aid to and diplomatic ties with the Palestinians.
After that vote, Minnesota AIPAC activist Amy Rotenberg called McCollum’s office. In a letter to AIPAC first printed by the New York Review of Books, McCollum quoted Rotenberg as telling Chief of Staff Bill Harper that the congresswoman’s “support for terrorists will not be tolerated.”
“This response may have been the result of extreme emotion or irrational passion, but regardless, it is a hateful attack that is vile and offensive to me and the families I represent,” McCollum wrote, before stating that until she receives an apology AIPAC representatives are not welcome in her office.
That prompted a letter to McCollum from Rotenberg, calling the congresswoman’s characterization of the conversation a “serious distortion.”
“It was your chief of staff, not I, who brought up the issue of supporting terrorism,” she wrote. “Specifically, he asked me whether I was accusing Congresswoman McCollum of supporting terrorism, and that if I was, such a threat would not be tolerated. I told Bill that I was not accusing anyone of anything.”
AIPAC Executive Director Howard Kohr also wrote McCollum, offering to meet with her, but no such meeting has taken place.
“The congresswoman’s letter is 100 percent correct,” Harper said, “and we’re going to continue to wait for a written apology.”
Albert Eisele and Josephine Hearn contributed to this page.