When Rep. Dan Lungren was sworn into office for the first time in 1979, his 5-year-old son, Jeff, was with him. Earlier this month, when Lungren was sworn in to the House again after a 15-year absence, Jeff was present on Capitol Hill again. But this time, he was drawing a paycheck.
Jeff Lungren is now communications director for the House Judiciary Committee, on which dear old Dad now sits again.
How things change, the congressman told a breakfast sponsored by The Hill last week: “Now I have reporters coming up to me and saying, ‘Are you Dan Lungren?’ I say yes, and they say, “Are you possibly related to Jeff Lungren?’ I have to confess that he’s my son.”
Courtesy of Lungren’s office
|Rep. Dan Lungren |
House Republican leaders restored Lungren’s four terms of seniority on the Judiciary Committee, but the move wasn’t without its problems.
“I found out that the payroll of the Judiciary Committee was held up until my son signed a sheet of paper saying that he’s my son,” said the congressman. But the Lungrens aren’t running afoul of any ethics rules. “He’s grandfathered in,” Lungren said. “He got the job before I ever got there.”
Nine years ago, to be exact. Besides, added Jeff Lungren, he doesn’t speak for his father, only for Chairman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.).
The Hill caught up Friday with Jeff Lungren, who remembers his dad’s first swearing-in well. It was his first time on an airplane, he said, and was also a “long day for a 5-year-old.” He fell asleep on the floor — a moment that The Washington Post captured on the front page. (He still has the photo framed in his office.)
“It’s very exciting and special” to have his father back in Congress, he said.
Press: Like herding cats
Crowd control became an issue at Union Station last Thursday as Republicans made their way to the trains that would take them to the Greenbrier in West Virginia for their annual retreat.
House Republican Conference Chairwoman Deborah Pryce (Ohio) and Senate Republican Conference Chairman Rick Santorum (Pa.) set up a press stakeout for reporters at Gate G as members passed, complete with a rope line.
But some reporters attempted to step around the ropes to finish their questions, which is when, according to one source, some “overzealous and probably bored” police jumped into action, impeding their progress and ushering them back to the prescribed area.
One reporter, Alan Ota of CQ, was even escorted out of Union Station altogether.
An Amtrak spokesperson said Amtrak police removed him “at the request of Hastert’s security detail” but he was not arrested or charged with any crime.
“We were very clear about staying behind the rope line,” one Senate leadership staffer said.
Neither Ota nor House Speaker Dennis Hastert’s (R-Ill.) office could be reached for comment.
But House Republican Conference spokesman Greg Crist said it was simply a case of two groups — the media and security — “both doing their job,” adding that Ota “handled this professionally and there’s no problem on this end.”
Do you believe in cutting taxes? Yes!
So much for Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) taking a break from sports metaphors. The GOP conference got one big, two-hour metaphor at its retreat at the Greenbrier, as members were treated to a showing of “Miracle” on Friday night.
The inspiring box-office hit concerns the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team, which defeated an overwhelmingly favored Soviet team in the semifinals and went on to win the gold medal.
Spokesman Greg Crist explained that “Miracle” was the theme for Conference Chair Deborah Pryce’s (R-Ohio) annual highlight reel of its members, culled from 2,000 hours of footage. He said in a year of the Martha Stewart and Kobe Bryant trials and Paris Hilton, the conference still made news and that was seen as “nothing short of a modern miracle.” He also expected that Republicans would defy the trend that says the in party loses seats in the mid-term elections of their president’s second term — another miracle.
The entire movie was shown later for those members who hadn’t yet seen it.
Asked if there was another subtext at work, namely beating back the Communists, Crist said, “We beat them every year.”
Seven Capitol sins, according to Meltzer
How much do you know about congressional peccadilloes? Here’s your chance to find out.
Brad Meltzer’s latest Washington thriller, The Zero Game, comes out in paperback today, and Warner Books is challenging readers to identify the culprit behind seven “sins” committed on the Hill.
Contestants can visit www.twbookmark.com/zerogame.html to see if they can identify the members whose sins include:
• Lust: Which senator once reached for a handkerchief in his pocket and proceeded to wipe his brow with a pair of women’s panties?
• Sloth: Which current congressman uses the term “Great American” as a codeword to ask his staff if the person he’s speaking to is a big donor?
• Pride: Which member talks so much on the House floor, a group of staffers set up a betting jar for the member to shut up? (If the member doesn’t speak, you win what’s in the jar.)
• Greed: Which lobbyist gave cigarette money to a member who had two liver transplants?
The contest runs through March 1, with the winners receiving a full set of signed books by Meltzer.
The Zero Game centers on a group of staffers who place bets on congressional outcomes. The idea dates back to Meltzer’s time as an intern for the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Kennedy remembers Irish roots at funeral
In a eulogy for retired Boston Globe Washington bureau reporter and columnist David Nyhan on Friday, Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) reminded his audience that some things are more important in Boston than a Harvard degree.
Kennedy said Nyhan, an Irish-American who graduated from Harvard but did not boast about his Harvard background, had taken to heart the advice that poet Robert Frost gave Kennedy’s brother, John F. Kennedy, before his inauguration in 1961.
“He said, ‘Be more Irish than Harvard,’” Kennedy told a memorial service for the 64-year-old Nyhan, who suffered a fatal heart attack Jan. 23 while shoveling snow at his Brookline home.
“Dave was a man of amazing talent, but most of all he was a man of the people who never forgot his roots,” Kennedy told an audience of some 700 mourners at a Brookline church that included his wife, Vicki; Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and his wife, Teresa; Boston Mayor Tom Menino; Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.); and Tommy O’Neill, son of the late House Speaker Tip O’Neill (D-Mass.).
Kennedy drew laughs as he described the reaction of actress Shirley MacLaine upon spotting the handsome 6-foot-4-inch former Harvard football star at a party. “She said, ‘Who is that? He’s better looking than two Burt Reynolds.”
Free speech in China, NPC
Members of the National Press Club who sign up for a weeklong Press Club-sponsored trip to Beijing in March may want to watch what they read while in China.
The same issue of the Press Club’s weekly Record that announced the trip last month also noted that club officials had refused a request by the Chinese Embassy to cancel a Dec. 21 press conference by the Epoch Times newspaper.
The embassy denounced the newspaper as a “propaganda tool” of the “evil cult” Falun Gong movement.
But John Donnelly, chairman of the club’s board of governors, wrote to the embassy, “We practice and defend freedom of speech, and that applies equally to all, regardless of their views.”
Members will see their shadows tomorrow
If you see teenagers trailing members tomorrow, they’re not pages out of uniform. They’re shadowing members as part of National Job Shadow Day. (Get it? Groundhog Day? Shadow?)
Sponsored by Junior Achievement, America’s Promise and the Departments of Labor and Education, about 1 million students across the country are expected to participate.
A dozen members are expected to have shadows, including Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.); Sens. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), Pete Domenici (R-N.M.), Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Mary Landrieu (D-La.); and Reps. Peter Hoekstra (R-Ill.) and Todd Akin (R-Mo.).