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Renzi: Real Leather, Fake Crest?

Indicted Arizona Republican Rep. Rick Renzi might have more to worry about than those pesky allegations involving an illegal land deal.

[IMGCAP(1)]Now his own cobbler is questioning whether Renzi was on the up-and-up about his designs for some fancy footwear.

Renzi falls into that category of lawmakers — mostly guys from Western states — who prefer cowboy boots over the usual stodgy wingtips. Renzi even got himself a pair of flashy, custom-made cowboy boots after winning his first election in 2002. The only problem: The family crest Renzi supplied cobbler Paul Krause of Arizona-based PK BootMaker to emblazon the front of his boots just might be bogus.

Renzi gave Krause the design elements of the crest, which the Congressman claimed dated back to 13th-century Florence, Italy, along with grapes and leaves to represent the Renzi family’s vineyard. Krause says he was skeptical and even attempted to do his own research on the crest, which features a white shield flanked by two decorative gold scrolls.

Ultimately, though, he did what any smart businessman would: Give the customer what he wants.

“I am aware that families [that] are in politics and power usually go way, way back and his story about this family made sense to me,” Krause told HOH about his decision to move forward with the design despite his hunch that the crest was a fake.

And Renzi was pleased with the results when he received the boots in time for the 2004 Black Tie & Boots inaugural party. “My boots are exceptional! … You are a true artist and a man whose work is inspiring. … My sincere thanks,” Renzi said, according to a testimonial posted on Krause’s Web site.

Renzi is denying the land-deal charges, but calls to Renzi’s office to find out whether the Congressman would similarly deny the “bootgate” allegations went unanswered.

Favre Fans. Hunky Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre has a Super Bowl championship ring, three MVP awards and a slew of impressive records. And now he’s collecting some slightly less exclusive kudos. The members of the Wisconsin Congressional delegation on Tuesday issued gushing tributes to Favre, who announced earlier in the day he would retire.

“He is without a doubt the greatest quarterback ever to play the game,” Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) pronounced.

“Like Packer fans across Wisconsin, while I am disappointed to see his record-setting career come to an end, I wish him a long and happy retirement,” Rep. Ron Kind (D-Wis.) chimed in.

And the releases were as timely as they were enthusiastic. The Congressmen are as fast on the press release-issuing as Favre was slinging a sidearm pass.

Live-Blogging’s the New Black. Budget geeks who crave minute-by-minute analysis of committee debates, fear not. All six of you certainly will get the fix you’re looking for when House GOP leadership aides commence their first attempt at live-blogging this morning.

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) announced Tuesday that his office would do its first live-blog coverage of a subject that most folks — HOH included — are pretty sure will be a snooze-worthy event: the House Budget Committee’s debate over the fiscal 2009 federal budget.

HOH hears the insta-punditry is the brainchild of Boehner’s new media guy, Nick Schaper. Schaper, a former aide to Rep. Ric Keller (R-Fla.), will be keeping readers informed up to the minute, Boehner spokesman Michael Steel says. “We’re dedicated to using every tool available, from live-blogging to smoke signals to carrier pigeons, to make sure the American people know about House Democrats’ plan for the largest tax increase in history,” Steel tells HOH.

She’s With the Band. There must be something about those Singing Senators. Susan Irby, the longtime communications director to former Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.), has found a new gig with Lott’s former bandmate, Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho). Irby started work on Monday as the scandal-plagued Senator’s new communications director, HOH hears.

Irby says the move from working for Lott — for whom she worked for most of the last 22 years — to Craig’s office was an easy one. She replaces Dan Whiting, who is leaving to take a policy post in the administration.

Irby tells HOH she was the “unofficial publicist” for the Singing Senators in their heyday.

An Easy Target. The town of Mitchell, S.D., is no Washington. Unlike our security-mad city, which is full of car alarms and clubs, in friendly Mitchell, folks leave their car doors open and the keys on the floorboards. At least that’s what former Sen. George McGovern (D-S.D.) did.

Mitchell resident Waylon Red Day on Monday pleaded guilty to stealing McGovern’s 2003 Buick Park Avenue, according to The Associated Press. The thief said he walked by the car and noticed that the door was open and the keys were on the floor, according to the AP’s report.

David M. Drucker contributed to this report.

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