By Jeff Dufour - 11/10/05 12:00 AM EST
Tuesday was a big day for members trying to put their legal troubles behind them.
Rep. Don Sherwood (R-Pa.) settled a $5.5 million lawsuit from 29-year-old Cynthia Ore, with whom he had a five-year affair. She said he repeatedly abused her. She called the police on Sherwood in September 2004.
According to a statement by Sherwood’s office, the lawsuit will be dismissed, as the parties “have resolved their differences.” Terms are confidential, and they will not comment further. In The Wilkes-Barre Times Leader, Ning Ye, Ore’s attorney, said it was “amicable.” Each side is paying its own court costs and attorney’s fees.
Also on Tuesday, Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas) pleaded no contest to an October drunk-driving charge in South Dakota.
Brady paid the standard $350 fine. He is also prohibited from driving for 30 days in South Dakota, his home state. Brady was arrested after a cocktail reception at the University of South Dakota on Oct. 7.
“I was wrong, and I deeply apologize,” said Brady in a statement. “This is an extremely important law. Perhaps others, especially young people, can learn from my mistake as I have.”
Suddenly, everyone’s a 30-something
Rep. Bill Delahunt (D-Mass.) is 64. Rep. John Spratt (D-S.C.) is 63. Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.) is 68.
Yet all are showing up with increasing regularity at the evening special-order speeches of the House Democrats’ 30-Something Working Group. Is it because the group’s 10 members are so hip and attractive? Could be, but Drew Hammill, spokesman for Rep. Kendrick Meek (D-Fla.), said the “30-Something Hour” on the House floor, which began in May, “has drawn a lot of attention.”
Meek founded the working group with Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio).
“It’s become regular viewing for a lot of people” on C-SPAN, Hammill said. “If he misses a night, he gets e-mails saying, ‘We missed you.’”
Now, the group is trying to increase the frequency from weekly to daily — whenever they can get the time, said Hammill.
“We are not going away,” Ryan said Monday. “We will be here every night if we have to.”
And why wouldn’t older members want some of their popularity to rub off? Jonathan Beeton, press secretary for Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), said, “All members are welcome. Lately, because of all the attention, more of them are coming down.”
He added that the unscripted, more casual format also attracts some members.
Bennett lands book deal for history of U.S.
Now we know there’s at least one business that’s not afraid to be associated with conservative commentator Bill Bennett. Publisher Nelson Current has contracted Bennett to author a two-volume history of the United States.
America: The Last Best Hope will be released in two stages. The first, which covers the discovery of the Americas to the eve of World War I, will be released in May 2006. Volume two, which takes readers from World War I to Sept. 11, 2001, is slated to hit shelves in 2007.
Bennett has written 16 books, chief among them The Book of Virtues and The Children’s Book of Virtues.
In late September, Bennett stirred up race-based controversy on his radio show, “Bill Bennett’s Morning in America.” Responding to a caller’s comment on the effect of abortion on entitlements, Bennett, making a rhetorical point, said, “I do know that it’s true that if you wanted to reduce crime, you could — if that were your sole purpose — you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down. That would be an impossible, ridiculous, and morally reprehensible thing to do, but your crime rate would go down.”
At the time, members of the Congressional Black Caucus called on Salem Radio Network to suspend the program and for advertisers to boycott it.
Joel Miller, senior editor at Nelson Current, said he’s not concerned about the recent dust-up. Bennett has stirred up “plenty of controversy in his long career and has weathered all of it,” he said, noting that the books would be a “warts and all” treatment of American history, including slavery and the issues surrounding it.
Fans turn out for Boxer book signing
A steady stream of friends and readers waited in line Tuesday at Marty’s restaurant on 8th Street to get signed copies of Sen. Barbara Boxer’s (D-Calif.) debut novel, A Time to Run, co-written with Mary-Rose Hayes and released Nov. 1 by Chronicle Books of San Francisco.
The book follows a freshman senator thrust into office after her husband mysteriously dies during the campaign.
Critics say the book relies on stock characters: nefarious Republicans and angelic Democrats. Boxer disagreed; she said that one of the heroines is a conservative representative.
Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) said she wanted to read the book but hadn’t yet had a chance. “It’s tacky to read the Christmas present before you give it,” she said. “But I’ll end up reading it eventually.”
Joanne Jensen, an aide to Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.), picked up copies for herself and her boss.
“I’m very excited to read the book because it’s someone who actually knows what they’re talking about,” Jensen said. “I hope she’ll be the next John Grisham of politics.”
Boxer said she’s unsure about whether she will do any future writing. “A lot of it really depends on if people like it,” she said.
McGovern steps around past in Nelson tribute
Things got a little tense for Carrie Lee Nelson when former Sen. George McGovern (D-S.D.) got up to speak at a memorial service for her late husband, former Sen. Gaylord Nelson (D-Wis.), last week in the Hart Building.
That’s because former Sen. Tom Eagleton (D-Mo.), who was dumped by McGovern as his vice-presidential running mate in 1972, was among the 200 guests.
The McGovern-Eagleton ticket was derailed after the press revealed that Eagleton had been hospitalized for nervous exhaustion in the 1960s and had twice undergone electric-shock therapy as treatment for depression.
At the time, McGovern initially defended Eagleton, saying, “I’m behind him 1,000 percent.” But a few days later, he asked Eagleton to step aside in the face of pressure from party leaders and ridicule by Republicans and replaced him with Sargent Shriver. McGovern’s handling of the affair exposed him to criticism as disloyal and indecisive and was a factor in his landslide loss to Richard Nixon.
“I got very anxious that George might make another [awkward] apology to Tom, as he did in a toast at my 80th birthday party two years ago,” said Nelson, whose husband was close to both McGovern and Eagleton and mediated the negotiations that led to Eagleton’s departure from the ticket.
However, McGovern made only a tangential reference to the long-ago controversy last week.
Several other speakers, including former Nelson staffers, nearly caused the ceremony to exceed its two-hour schedule, leading Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) to comment afterwards, “You know what Gaylord would have said? He’d have said, ‘Cut it short.’”
New soap opera based in D.C. is on the horizon
First, there was the wave of Capitol Hill novels: Kristen Gore’s Sammy’s Hill, Jessica Cutler’s thinly fictionalized The Washingtonienne and the forthcoming Dog Days by “Wonkette” Ana Marie Cox.
Then we heard about “Red/Blue,” a political reality show in pre-production that features the staff of The Hotline as technical consultants.
Now, D.C. may have to brace for an evening, “Melrose Place”-style soap about itself.
According to Daily Variety, The WB network is developing an hour-long D.C.-based drama that “explore[s] the town’s seedy underbelly.”
“The Body Politic” will follow the exploits of a young woman who comes to D.C. for the first time to become a congressional aide.
Co-creator Bill Robinson, who worked in the office of Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) in his late teens, said, “Some of the more sordid things that I saw will definitely color this. This is a story I’ve been dying to tell for some time.”
Staffers stepping up to build houses on Mall
Beginning tomorrow, Habitat for Humanity and Freddie Mac will turn the National Mall into something reminiscent of a housing development.
Through next Friday, teams of volunteers, including Hill staffers, will build frames for 51 homes, representing each state and the District. The frames will then be shipped to the Gulf Coast region to be completed as homes.
Congressional leaders sent out a “Dear Colleague” letter soliciting help for the project.
The building will take place from 6:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Congressional staff can sign up to be a part of this effort by visiting www.americabuildsnationalmall.org.