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Blog Spat

The denizens of Capitol Hill and the blogosphere are all abuzz about a female staffer for Sen. Mike DeWine (R-Ohio) and a webblog she reportedly maintained detailing her busy, busy sex life. The tale is now reaching critical mass.

Mike Dawson, DeWine’s communications director, said the staffer in question has not been fired, as has been alleged. DeWine’s staff is looking into the matter and deciding what, if any, steps they will take, according to Dawson.

“People made us aware of this yesterday,” said Dawson in an interview Wednesday afternoon. Although the staffer in

question was not at work on Wednesday, “she has not been terminated,” said Dawson. DeWine’s office could offer little information on the issue beyond that because it “remains a personnel matter” and is thus a “very sensitive area,” Dawson added.

The controversial blog, Washingtonienne, has been deactivated (HOH wants to warn readers about pretenders to the Washingtonienne mantle) but fellow blogger Wonkette has been on a mission to get the story out. Wonkette’s editor, Ana Marie Cox, had linked to the now-defunct blog, and it was that increased exposure that apparently led to the scrutiny from DeWine’s office.

In her blog, Washingtonienne — who described herself as a staff assistant, or “Staff Ass” — wrote about the extensive cast of men she was involved with. At one point, Washingtonienne created a helpful “key” so readers could keep it all straight. The list included: “X,” a “married man who pays me for sex” and is “Chief of Staff at one of the gov agencies, appointed by [President] Bush”; “QV,” her serious long-term boyfriend, but who looked as if he was on the way out; “YZ,” her “new office [boyfriend] with whom I am embroiled in an office sex scandal”; and “K,” a “sugar daddy” who also paid her for kinky sex.

Washingtonienne was full of ribald and hilarious comments about life on Capitol Hill before it was cut off. In complaining about her low salary, and her wonderment at how other junior staffers could get by on such a pittance without resorting to less savory means to supplement their incomes, Washingtonienne wrote: “I am convinced that Congressional offices are full of dealers and hos.”

Washingtonienne also spoke of local hot spots, her passion for the UPN show “America’s Next Top Model,” and “getting wasted” and passing out on her kitchen floor, which may not endear her to the higher ups in DeWine’s office.

As the “Washingtonienne Affair” reaches it denouement, HOH is reminded of the controversy surrounding the legendary Diana Davis, a former aide to Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) who was the star of a salacious Vanity Fair article back in the fall of 2001. The then-22-year-old Davis was forced out of Rogers’ office after telling Vanity Fair that she slept with someone because he “knew [Rep.] Tom DeLay (R-Texas.).”

Davis also partied with a bunch of Members on Sept. 13, 2001, two days after the worst terrorist attacks in U.S. history, an anecdote that stunned lots of people of Capitol Hill.

Davis resigned after the Vanity Fair article came out in early November 2001.

House Barrier. Following Tuesday’s incident in which British Prime Minister Tony Blair was hit with a purple, powderish substance while addressing the House of Commons, Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.), has unveiled his own plan to prevent a similar incident here: Installing a barrier around the House floor, protecting lawmakers from the public galleries surrounding the chamber.

In a “Dear Colleague” letter he circulated yesterday afternoon, Burton, the former chairman of the then-Government Reform and Oversight Committee, acknowledged that there have been numerous security fixes to the Capitol campus since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, but noted that lawmakers were still exposed to potential threats when on the House floor.

“However, one security upgrade that has not yet been addressed concerns the vulnerability of the House of Representative’s visitors’ galleries,” wrote Burton. “That is why I intend to introduce legislation authorizing the Architect of the Capitol to enclose the House of Representatives visitors’ galleries with a transparent and substantial material to close this potential security loophole.”

Burton added: “The Architect would also be authorized to install equipment so that the proceedings on the House Floor can still be clearly audible to members of the public who come to witness the People’s House in action.”

But House Administration Chairman Bob Ney (R-Ohio), who has jurisdiction over the issue, immediately moved to put the kibosh on Burton’s idea.

“We understand, obviously, Congressman Burton’s concerns, but this issue has arisen in the past and frankly, the vast majority of Members on both sides of the aisle that we have heard from do not want this done,” said Ney. “So frankly, I do not see this happening.”

Coburn Lays Down the Law. Former Rep. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), who is now running for the Senate, has little love for his former Republican colleagues in the House.

At a question-and-answer session during a meeting of Rogers County Republicans last month, Coburn laid into House Rules Chairman David Dreier (R-Calif.), saying the California Republican should step down immediately “because he no longer represents the Constitution,” according to a transcript from the event that someone slipped to HOH.

Coburn added that Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) should also think about following Dreier out the door.

“My advice is that David Dreier ought to retire because he no longer represents the Constitution, and Denny Hastert ought to think about retiring,” said Coburn in response to a question on why Congress hasn’t passed a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. Dreier and a number of other Republicans have raised concerns about enacting such an amendment, saying they would rather see the federal courts handle this issue for the time being.

Coburn, a obstetrician, later added: “I would never vote for David Dreier if he was my Congressman because he makes decisions about the short run that benefit the Republican Party more than he does about what’s in the best interests of the country. That doesn’t mean that he’s not a good person. It just means that he’s more addicted to being in power more than to doing what is right.”

During his three terms in the House, which ended after the 106th Congress, Coburn made a habit of bucking his own party leadership, and was one of the driving forces in the failed 1997 coup attempt against then-Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.). Coburn is also an unabashed social conservative, and he once said the people of his old eastern Oklahoma district considered homosexuality “immoral, that it is based on perversion, that it is based on lust.”

Coburn is now running to replace the retiring Sen. Don Nickles (R-Okla.) and faces a competitive GOP primary on July 27.

But Coburn’s suggestion that these two top House Republicans should give up their political careers apparently isn’t making Hastert and Dreier rethink their career plans.

“Instead of running for the Senate, maybe Dr. Coburn should think about becoming a diplomat,” said John Feehery, Hastert’s spokesman. Dreier’s office did not return several calls seeking comment.

HOH just wants to note that Coburn published a book in 2003 on his six years in the House called “Breach of Trust: How Washington Turns Outsiders into Insiders.”

It was filled with anecdotes about how Coburn learned the ways of Washington, and the pitfalls that face the noble of heart who journey to this side of the Potomac. “I believe you come to a point in time in Washington when you start thinking more about yourself than your constituents,” Coburn said. “It’s natural human behavior.”

Good thing Coburn is running for Senate to help out with that problem.

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