In their search for hard money, House Republicans truly broke some new ground recently by awarding Harry Weiss, president of Weiss and Associates, their National Leadership Award and appointing him California co-chairman of the Business Advisory Council.
House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) chairs the council, and his signature is on Weiss’ award, which thanks him for his “Republican ideals.”
But then there’s the obligatory twist: Weiss is the proud owner of a PR firm that represents some of the most prolific, uh, “adult”
stars in the San Fernando Valley, as well as a few spicy Web sites and video stores. He also founded Nefarious Films, for which Weiss is a producer and director of his own adult flicks. Weiss, who’s been in the industry for nine years, has even landed a handful of roles of his own in adult films.
As he told HOH on Friday, Weiss has only had “non-sex roles,” such as the time he played a judge in a film closely resembling the Larry Flynt case, in which an adult entertainer had to defend himself on First Amendment grounds. The films always need a few non-sex roles, Weiss said, to help move the plot along. Who knew?
A onetime Democrat when he grew up in Union County, N.J., Weiss said he was surprised to find a message on his work phone a month or so ago asking him if he’d like to join the Business Advisory Council. The call is in fact a fundraising pitch used by the National Republican Congressional Committee.
Weiss, who labels himself a centrist who didn’t vote in 2000 because he hated both President Bush and former Vice President Al Gore, called back, and the Republican telemarketer offered him a spot on the council. “They said they considered me a responsible and important part of the business community,” he recalled.
“I, of course, asked what this was costing me. And they said ‘No cost.’”
With that, Weiss signed on and the person on the other end then granted him the leadership award and played a recorded greeting from DeLay, the arch-conservative who drove the impeachment of then-President Bill Clinton over his alleged lies about sexual indiscretions.
The GOP operative never actually asked what services Weiss and Associates performed, Weiss said. Like other recipients of the leadership award, the caller did ask Weiss if he wanted to pay a few hundred dollars to have his name included on a GOP advertisement in The New York Times talking up the president’s economic plan. Weiss declined, and the caller said that was fine.
A week or so later he received a letter “welcoming me aboard,” promising access to key Republicans and inviting him to an NRCC fundraiser with Bush later this year.
Perhaps members of the more conservative wing of the GOP would strive to rescind the award if they knew Weiss’ clients include actor Lexington Steele, who, according to the Internet Movie Database, boasts of 336 adult film credits since 1997, including, most recently, “Bring’um Young 10,” “Can’t Get Enough” and a whole bunch of unprintable titles.
(HOH disclaimer: This item was indeed leaked by a Democratic staffer who got a tip from a K Street friend; no company time or resources have been spent surfing the Web for adult reference sites.)
While Weiss said he’s still unsure if he’ll eventually donate to the Republicans — “Give me a reason, show me what you’re doing” — he is very proud of his award from DeLay. So proud that he has posted the award on the Adult Industry News Web site (www.ainews.com/story/4695) and DeLay’s signature can be seen right next to ads for some films the Texan probably never watched: “California Sex Patrol” and “French Roommate.”
In light of the French position on the war against Iraq, DeLay’s office declined to comment on whether the Majority Leader and former Whip believes the film’s name should be changed to “Freedom Roommate.” An NRCC spokesman was very tight-lipped about the matter in general, but left open the possibility that Weiss would indeed be invited to Washington for a fundraiser.
“It’s a big tent,” spokesman Carl Forti said of the Republican Party.
Weiss hopes so, because he’d like to share his libertarian views on morality with key Beltway players. “It’s up to the individual to decide what’s wrong and what’s right,” he said, adding, “What’s family values? No one in my family has ever been convicted of a crime or brought up on charges.”
DeLay, no doubt, will be happy to know that.
Call It a Day. As the Senate was preparing to wrap up its marathon voting session on the budget Wednesday, Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) tried to prolong the debate by one more vote, which would have opened the floodgates to other amendments, thereby blowing the 4 p.m. deadline set for final passage.
As Senate leaders huddled on the floor to work out a resolution, the liberal lion from Massachusetts finally rose from his chair and started waving a white handkerchief to signal his surrender, one of the first signs of levity after four days of intense partisan debate.
HOH wondered: Does this mean that, after 40-plus years in the Senate, Kennedy is throwing in the towel? Not so, said Jim Manley, the Senator’s spokesman.
“The Senator is savvy enough to know when to hold them and when to fold them,” said a chuckling Manley. “He will be back to have this battle another day.”
A True Pol Lover. Leave it to comedian/author Al Franken to turn Khmer Rouge dictator Pol Pot into a punchline. Franken was the featured attraction at a fundraising dinner for 21st Century Democrats on Thursday night, and his usual tart observations had the audience rolling in the aisles.
“The first politician I ever did a fundraiser for years ago was Pol Pot,” he said. “I saw ‘The Killing Fields’ a few years later. I felt like a real schmuck.”
Eventually, Franken got a little more current. “I call the war in Iraq ‘Operation Finish Desert Storm,’” he said.
Franken said he is writing a book called “Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them — A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right.” The long-time friend of HOH went on to call White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer “a chimp.”
Well, it was a Democratic audience …
Linder Loses His Place. Rep. John Linder (R-Ga.), a senior member of the Rules Committee, had a little trouble kicking off a debate on the Child Abduction Prevention Act last Wednesday.
Everything started out fine as Linder stressed in a floor speech that the rule governing debate on the measure was very fair to both sides.
“The Rules Committee has worked to be as even-handed as possible, and has permitted the overwhelming majority of amendments that were submitted for our review last evening,” he said.
But then things got screwy as Linder turned the page on that part of his remarks. “Over the past few weeks, we have listened to the pleas of those who believe that this country should make every effort to protect our national resources,” Linder said.
There was a pause. Linder seemed to realize that an environmental speech had been accidentally slipped into the middle of his remarks by his staff. Then came an embarrassing shuffle of papers.
“I got a wrong page,” Linder finally said. “I’m sorry.”
Joe’s Policy Guy. Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.) is expected to lock up former Senate aide Nao Matsukata to help run the policy shop for his presidential campaign.
Matsukata will simultaneously keep his post at Hunton & Williams, where he chairs the firm’s international strategic business.
The adviser previously served on Lieberman’s Senate staff, specializing in defense issues.
Déjà Vu All Over Again. With so many of his colleagues seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, Sen. Tom Harkin (Iowa) can’t help but think back on his own failed bid for the 1992 prize.
In a speech to the Colorado Democratic Jefferson-Jackson Dinner, Harkin noted that he delivered his concession speech 11 years ago this month.
“I usually mark the occasion by calling to thank the six people in New Hampshire who voted for me,” he joked.
Harkin added: “When I think back to that race, it seems like a whole different world. George Bush was in the White House. The country was in recession. We were at war with Iraq. Gary Hart was thinking about running for president. It was a completely different time.”
He forgot to mention that someone named Dole was in the Senate then too.
The Israel-Palestinian Battle Rages on. When word started circulating on the floor recently that Rep. Brian Baird (D-Wash.) was going to introduce a resolution calling for an investigation into the death of Rachel Corrie, pro-Israel lawmakers led by Reps. Phil Crane (R-Ill.) and Tom Lantos (D-Calif.) quickly swung into action.
The 23-year-old Corrie was killed in the Palestinian village of Rafah on March 16 when she was run over by an Israeli military bulldozer, which was destroying Palestinian homes. Corrie, an Olympia, Wash., native and recent graduate of The Evergreen State College, had spent the past two months as a “human shield” supporting Palestinians in Rafah, site of frequent clashes between the Israeli Army and Palestinian militants.
The Baird resolution, introduced last week and co-sponsored by five other Washington state Democrats, calls on the U.S. government “to undertake a full, fair and expeditious investigation into the death of Rachel Corrie.”
The resolution was numbered H. Con. Res. 111, for House Concurrent Resolution 111, and was referred to the International Relations Committee for action.
But the very next bill, H. Con. Res. 112, introduced by Crane and Lantos, condemns “attacks on United States citizens by Palestinian terrorists,” and lists 41 Americans who have been killed in Israel since the 1993 Oslo peace accords. Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat renounced violence as part of the Oslo initiative.
The Crane-Lantos resolution, co-sponsored by Reps. Gary Ackerman (D-N.Y.), Eric Cantor (R-Va.), Mike Pence (R-Ind.), Joe Hoeffel (D-Pa.), Doug Ose (R-Calif.) and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), “demands the Palestinian Authority work with Israel to protect all innocent individuals, regardless of citizenship, from terrorist atrocities.” The resolution was also referred to International Relations, where Lantos, a Holocaust survivor, is the ranking member.
HOH has a hunch, just a hunch, that the Baird resolution is not going to be approved by the committee.
Mark Preston, Josh Kurtz, Ed Henry and John Bresnahan contributed to this report.