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Dem Donors Whining (Again)

Fat-cat Democratic donors and K Street lobbyists are seething about having to stay in “ratholes” (by their standards) in Southie or out in the ‘burbs this week, while presumptive Democratic nominee Sen. John Kerry (Mass.) and Co. hog all the posh rooms at the Four Seasons and Ritz Carlton.[IMGCAP(1)]

“Everybody is pissed off. This is just ridiculous,” one K Street lobbyist, whose clients include top Democratic donors, said last week.

He said the Kerry campaign — as well as the Kennedy clan — booked most of the rooms at the Four Seasons and Ritz Carlton, many of which they won’t even be using. One source said rooms were booked at various top-shelf hotels around Boston to be used as convenient “safe houses” for politicians and their inner circles as they hop from one event to another throughout the city.

Kerry campaign spokesman Michael Meehan confirmed that the Democratic National Convention Committee, indeed, “booked 80 percent of all hotel rooms in Boston eons ago.” But he added, “The pressure on the convention hotels has come from the record number of folks who have helped John Kerry break every fundraising record and want to come to Kerry’s hometown for his nomination.”

Translation from Spin to Reporterese: Sorry, donors. You’re the victims of your own success. But for the love of God: Don’t stop forking over the dough!

But if it makes them feel any better, here are a few of the private events for “finance honored” guests in Boston:

• A clambake at the Kennedy Compound in Hyannis Sunday afternoon.

• A policy briefing by former President Bill Clinton at the Wang Theater Tuesday morning.

• Pool, bowling and cocktails with Ben Affleck at Jillians Tuesday afternoon. (Retired Gen. Wesley Clark will be there, too.)

• A witty look at the election with actors Chevy Chase, Affleck and Alec Baldwin.

• A special performance by Jon Bon Jovi Thursday night after Kerry’s acceptance speech.

Cop to Cop. Those recalcitrant Boston police officers, whose picketing already has canceled several convention events, are still at it.

And while the Boston Police Patrolman’s Association president, Thomas Nee, insists his union has “the support of our brothers and sisters from around the country” — he may not find the Capitol Police so lovey-dovey this week. In fact, he may just view them as a bunch of scabs.

Ron Potter, chairman of the Capitol Police Labor Committee, said he sympathizes with the Boston police and all that for not having had a contract for some years. But he added, “they gotta understand that the Capitol cops coming up there are going to cross their picket lines.”

Potter doesn’t knock the Boston police union, which has supported George W. Bush for president, for using the Democratic convention to “make a strong statement.” But he says he hopes they understand: “We are coming up there to do the job that we have to do. We’re not trying to interfere with your statement, but if it comes to crossing the picket line to protect our Members of Congress, we’ll have to do that.”

Ridge Can Take a Joke. After House Intelligence ranking member Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) blasted Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge over the national terror alert system, saying his tasteful use of color left him better suited to be an “interior decorator,” it wasn’t hard to think that Ridge might hold a grudge.

Apparently, however, he hasn’t lost his sense of humor despite having to oversee operations to protect the nation from terrorists. A source tells HOH he called Harman in her Congressional office last week and had this conversation:

“Jane? This is Tom Ridge. Just calling to see what color you’d like your kitchen painted.”

“Well, Tom,” Harman said. “I helped you get your first job; I can help you get a second as an interior decorator.”

Pombo Aide Rips Seattle P.I. Columnist. A big debate in the Pacific Northwest over a proposed Wild Sky Wilderness Area got really wild last week when a GOP aide on the House Resources Committee went ballistic on a veteran award-winning political columnist.

The aide, spokesman Brian Kennedy, had had enough of Seattle Post Intelligencer columnist Joel Connelly’s pieces criticizing his boss, Resources Chairman Richard Pombo (R-Calif.), for opposing the Wild Sky initiative.

Kennedy said he was infuriated when he read Connelly’s last column calling Pombo a “real radical” for not supporting a wilderness area to protect the Pacific coast’s forested valleys and salmon streams. Steaming mad, he sat down at his computer and batted out a scathing rant of an e-mail that opened this way:

“Joel,

“Your Wild Sky piece today was so fraught with sensational and factual errors that I find myself embarrassed for you as a journalist. Did you write for a tabloid before arriving at the Seattle PI?”

The nasty e-mail went further to accuse Connelly of not doing his homework and not calling the committee for more information. Kennedy’s rage-odometer registered even hotter with this ending:

“In short, you are so full of shit, you stink. If you are interested in the FACTS about Wild Sky, feel free to give me a call.” With no salutation, the note was signed: “Brian J. Kennedy, Committee on Resources, Chairman W. Pombo.”

Kennedy was surprised to learn that HOH had received a copy of his e-mail. But he said he did not intend to apologize to Connelly. He said Connelly’s columns on Wild Sky have been “lazy” and “sloppy.”

Contacted by HOH, Connelly, who has covered many decades worth of presidential elections, said he has taken heat from press secretaries in his day. “Never, however, have I witnessed the likes of Brian Kennedy’s e-mail,” he said.

Borrowing a line from former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau (who, at the time, was responding to having been called “an asshole” on a Nixon White House tape), Connelly said, “I’ve been called worse things by better men.”

Please send your hot tips, juicy gossip or comments to hoh@rollcall.com.

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