Shutdown rules have Capitol tour groups on a short leash — tour guides are furloughed, staff-led tours are forbidden, member-led tours are capped at 10 per group, and members must personally accompany the tour at all times.
That’s why a group of 25 Miami University students touring the rotunda raised HOH’s eyebrows. The Oxford, Ohio, university is located in Speaker John A. Boehner’s district, but he was nowhere in sight.
HOH was puzzled as to how the students, easily identified by their red “M” lapel pins and a few flashy Miami University folders, gained access to the Capitol. The leader of the group herded them through the Rotunda around 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, then into the Old Senate Chamber, with a Capitol Police officer on hand to unlock the door.
An hour later, the group emerged and the mystery was solved: Former Rep. Walt Minnick, D-Idaho, now a partner at the D.C.-based lobbying firm The Majority Group, had organized the rule-bending tour.
Former members enjoy many of the same privileges as current members, including exclusive tours.
The fact that the kids go to school in the speaker’s district is coincidental, Minnick said. Boehner passed the group at one point but appeared to be in too much of a rush to say hello.
The tour did violate the 10-person limit imposed by officials, though. We may have “collectively conspired to bend the rules for a bunch of kids,” he said, telling HOH that he convinced the officers on duty to allow the big group.
“Please don’t give the speaker hell for this,” Minnick added.