On Tuesday, HOH brought you the tale of how Sen. Max Baucus banned a lobbyist from his office for stealthily hiring away one of his top staffers. Now, we offer another reason lobbyists might not want to cross the Montana Democrat: the snarling, snapping jaws of the attack dog he keeps around the office. OK, so the Senator’s dog, an adorable bichon frisé named Isaac, isn’t exactly a Cujo-esque intimidating beast. And technically, the dog belongs to the Senator’s wife, Wanda. [IMGCAP(1)]
But it did do some damage to a lobbyist who dropped by the Senator’s office last week, HOH hears. The frisky pup, who is known for being protective of his caretaker, bit into the pants leg of the visiting lobbyist’s suit, tearing it and growling menacingly, a tipster tells HOH. No lasting damage was done: The suit pants were whisked away to the tailor for repair and the lobbyist’s leg remained mercifully un-nibbled-on. Staffers and the lobbyist laughed it off, we’re told.
Isaac might not have the starpower of other Congressional pooches, like Splash and Sunny, the Portuguese water dogs belonging to Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), but he has at least one previous newspaper clipping to his name. He was cited in a 2003 item in The Washington Post’s Reliable Source section in which a reporter interviewing the Baucuses did so over Isaac’s yapping. And he has developed a reputation for being a fierce guard dog (albeit an unlikely one) around the Senate, where he occasionally visits.
Your Money’s No Good Here. No savvy political candidate would fathom accepting money from Jack Abramoff. And at least one GOP contender also is running away from bucks that might have a whiff of the uber-lobbyist-turned-convicted-felon, giving back donations from even an unindicted Abramoff associate. After first enlisting Cassidy & Associates lobbyist Todd Boulanger to help fundraise for former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, the campaign got cold feet about accepting Boulanger’s $1,000 personal donation because of his Abramoff connection, says Giuliani spokeswoman Maria Comella. Boulanger worked with Abramoff at two lobby firms before Abramoff was indicted. Boulanger was miffed by the slight. “After learning of the heightened sensitivities by the Giuliani campaign about my donations for reasons I believe to be irrelevant and unfair, I asked for them to return my contributions so that I could help with other races,” Boulanger said. Boulanger, who hasn’t been indicted for any activities with Abramoff, had his campaign donation returned in August, according to Giuliani’s third-quarter financial filings. Rejected donation aside, the incident doesn’t mean he’s throwing his support behind another candidate. “Regardless of this matter, I still think the mayor is the best man for the job,” Boulanger said.
Costume or Art? Doesn’t Matter. Plenty of Washington types planning to use the handy, downloadable Halloween mask featuring the visage of Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho) aren’t seeing the mask for what it is supposed to be — thought-provoking art — and that suits its two creators just fine. Scott Marshall, a New York-based artist and graphic designer who sketched the portrait of Craig (available at www.ep.tc/larrycraigmask/) tells HOH that the project, which was a joint production between himself and art-school pal Ethan Persoff, is in part a commentary on what they see as the Senator’s hypocrisy and Craig’s ability to “mask” his own identity. And Marshall’s analysis of the mug-shot photo of Craig on which he based his sketch — which DIYers can affix to a paper bag for an insta-costume — is pretty deep stuff, too. “He has a very complex expression … there’s tension in the muscles around his mouth,” he tells HOH. Compared to other photos of Craig before and since, “there is a contrast to all the other facades he’s worn,” Marshall says, though admittedly he lost us when he started using words like “miasma” to describe his artistic vision.
Washington revelers looking for a last-minute costume or to save themselves a trip to the costume store might not see the artistic worth, but that’s perfectly OK with Marshall and Persoff. “It still works for us,” Marshall says.
Persoff also gives props to Craig himself for staying in the news — by giving TV interviews and refusing to bow out of public life — long enough to finish the project. “I was nervous, because we thought of this in early October, but [Craig] just kept putting air in the fire,” he tells HOH.
Beyond the Pink. Apparently they’re not content to just hold placards and shout during hearings anymore, and it’s no more Mrs. Nice-ish Gals anymore for anti-war group CODEPINK. CODEPINKers upped the ante Wednesday at a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing when one of them attempted to rush Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Protester Desiree Ali-Fairooz, whose hands were covered in red goo, screamed, “war criminal!” and got within a foot of Rice before being pulled out of the room by Capitol Police. The near-assault prompted Chairman Tom Lantos (D-Calif.) to demand that the women in pink be removed from the room. They didn’t go quietly — five were arrested, with Ali-Fairooz getting charged with not only the usual charge of disorderly conduct (a ho-hum for the frequently cuffed ladies) but for serious charges of defacing government property and (gulp) assaulting a federal officer.
CODEPINK spokeswoman Dana Balacki insists that her compatriot never intended to actually touch Rice, just make the point that the group feels Rice has blood on her hands. Still, she acknowledges that the group is turning to more dramatic tactics than ever before.
“I think at this point there are some bolder actions,” Balacki said of Ali-Farooz’s stunt. “We feel like there was an understanding with a lot of the Capitol Police, chairs of various committees, but some of that has gone out the window.” The rules haven’t changed, according to Capitol Police spokeswoman Sgt. Kimberly Schneider. “If you break the law you’ll be charged accordingly,” she tells HOH.
Yippy-ki-yay. Andy Taylor, who covers the budget for The Associated Press, and his wife, Rebecca Taylor, who writes for CQ Weekly, are the proud parents of a new baby boy. The newest addition to the newsy clan, John McClane Taylor, was born Wednesday morning and is the couple’s second child. In typically spare, to-the-point AP fashion, Taylor sent this report to friends: “Mother and son doing well. Tell the world.”
Though it seems likely that little John might someday go into journalism, given that ink’s practically coursing through his veins, he might take after another John McClane, the Bruce Willis character in the Die Hard franchise. A New York City cop and terrorist-plot-buster? Way more exciting than covering those budget points of order (sorry, Dad).
Matthew Murray contributed to this report.
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