Beltway Bandwagon

Posted February 3, 2004 at 6:57pm

It was just a matter of time before a couple of lawmakers tried to get a little bit of publicity out of the Janet Jackson controversy at Super Bowl XXXVIII, and Reps. Joe Baca (D-Calif.) and Tom Osborne (R-Neb.) just couldn’t resist stepping into the fray Wednesday.

Apparently feeling that the two full days of non-stop media chatter about the racy halftime show was not

enough, Baca and Osborne fired off a “Dear Colleague” decrying the “on-camera sexual gyrations” of Jackson and the fact that during the show she “had her costume ripped away to reveal her bare breast.” The duo declared that the full-throttle Federal Communications Commission probe of the matter “is not enough” to satisfy them.

“Members of Congress cannot abdicate their responsibility as elected officials,” the tandem wrote. “That is why we have created the bipartisan Sex and Violence in the Media Caucus.”

Baca staffer Oscar Ramirez stressed to HOH that the caucus was founded last year, long before the Jackson-Justin Timberlake fiasco. “We didn’t create the caucus because of this,” he said.

Baca and Osborne have been pushing legislation that would impose fines on retailers who sell or rent video games that have sexual and/or violent content to minors.

Their “Dear Colleague” noted that during its Super Bowl coverage, CBS decided to air an advertisement for the new horror flick “Van Helsing” that “contained extremely disturbing and graphic images of brutality and gore.”

When asked what Jackson and the horror flick have to do with video games, Ramirez said that after the Federal Trade Commission issued a report on the dangerous effects of television and movies, “we decided to expand the scope of what we were working on.”

Father of the Bride. Freshman Rep. Bob Beauprez (R-Colo.) recently got a rather unusual request from his press secretary, Allen Fuller.

Fuller asked whether the boss would allow him to get married to Melanie Beauprez, the Congressman’s 23-year-old daughter.

“Her mom was actually a tougher interview than her dad,” Fuller told HOH.

In fact, the Congressman had gotten the grilling out of the way a few months earlier when Fuller first asked to take her out on a date. “He said, ‘I would hate to find out years from now that something really good could have happened and it didn’t because of me,” Fuller recalled.

Now the couple is engaged and happily planning a May wedding, and Fuller has officially left the office so as not to create any conflict. But Fuller is facing the wrath of someone who’s even tougher than the bride’s parents: House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas).

Upon being introduced to the young couple in a Capitol hallway, DeLay gave Fuller the once-over and pulled a fake checklist out of his jacket pocket and ran down the list to make sure the young guy is a gentleman who is up to par and can handle Melanie Beauprez’s good taste.

Then the man known as The Hammer finally demanded: “Can you afford her?”

Fuller nodded warily.

Democratic Doghouse. Workaholic Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) is not exactly getting his new marriage off on the right foot.

The 55-year-old Blumenauer quietly got hitched (for the third time) over the weekend to Margaret Kirkpatrick, an environmental lawyer based in Portland. Then he showed up for work on Monday morning at 9 a.m. — as if it had been a routine weekend.

Any plans for a honeymoon at least? “He is going to take his wife to the Democratic issues retreat” this weekend in Colonial Williamsburg, Va., according to spokeswoman Kathie Eastman. “He’s very happy, and she’s very happy.”

But he’s at least going to have to scramble to make it up to Kirkpatrick, 49, on Valentine’s Day.

Republican Rudd? Republicans combing through the background of David Rudd, the new executive director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, have found at least one good nugget.

Federal Election Commission records show that Rudd contributed $500 from his own pocket last year to the campaign of Sen. Chuck Grassley (Iowa), one of the many Republican incumbents that the DSCC is trying to knock off in November.

“We assume that race is off the table,” cracked one GOP operative. “We’d be interested to see if he wants to give to some of our other candidates, especially down South.”

In fairness to Rudd, he has contributed about $11,000 to Democratic candidates and incumbents in the House and Senate in this election cycle. And the Grassley contribution came at a time when Rudd was serving as a lobbyist at the Palmetto Group last year and trying to maintain good relations with the chairman of the powerful Finance Committee.

DSCC spokesman Brad Woodhouse said the controversy was “silly” because Cari Rudd, the executive director’s wife, hails from Iowa and has known Grassley since she was 10 years old. The fact that the two Rudd’s share a joint-checking account is the most likely explanation for the contribution appearing in David Rudd’s name.

“I’m not at all surprised that the NRSC would use this to solicit money for its beleaguered candidates in the South since according to the polls they are behind in nearly every Southern state,” cracked Woodhouse. “I’d want to change the conversation too.”

Take This Plea and Shove It. Who knew that Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) has dressed up in a flight suit just like President Bush?

This was revealed after Dingell accidentally received an invite from Marc Racicot, chairman of the Bush-Cheney re-election effort, to serve as a charter member of the team in Virginia.

“I appreciate knowing that a senior Republican like yourself is willing to correspond with me,” Dingell responded with a sarcastic note last week. “Do you think you could get President Bush or Vice President Cheney to respond to some of my letters on saving our manufacturing jobs, no-bid Halliburton contracts, or the records of Mr. Cheney’s Energy Task Force?”

Dingell added of the computer goof that led to him receiving the invite, “I hope you search for the campaign staffer who sent this letter with the same vigor that you have shown in the search for the White House employee responsible for leaking the name of a U.S. operative.”

“And as a token of my appreciation for receiving a nifty photo of Bush and First Lady Laura Bush posing at their ranch in Texas,” Dingell wrote, “I am enclosing one of my own for you and your friends, in which I got to wear a flight suit — something that both top Democrats and top Republicans like to do.”