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Posts by Hannah Hess
March 17, 2014
The House stenographer who was dragged from the floor by Capitol Police last fall after shouting about God, the Freemasons and a House divided counts the Oct. 16 incident as the fourth time “the lord has put on my heart to speak.”
Dianne Reidy said she remembers “walking to the dais and speaking, and standing at the podium where the president speaks as God would have it, but I did not lose my mind.”
Speaking publicly for the first time in the nearly five months since the outburst, Reidy maintained she was driven to act by God.
“I did not have a breakdown,” she said in a 38-minute video posted Sunday afternoon.
Reidy said she loved working on Capitol Hill and knew the speech, characterized as an “assignment” from the Holy Spirit, would likely cost her the job she held for eight years. Full story
February 10, 2014
The organization representing broadcast journalists on Capitol Hill on Monday opted not to engage on Rep. Michael G. Grimm’s threat to throw NY1 television reporter Michael Scotto off a Rotunda balcony.
Radio-Television Correspondents Association Chairman Frank Thorp, who reports for NBC News, said the New York Republican’s behavior following the State of the Union was “clearly unacceptable” and it would have been “alarming” if Grimm stuck with his initial unapologetic statement, instead of later issuing a public apology.
“Obviously we condemn that kind of behavior,” Thorp said during the first RTCA executive committee meeting since the Jan. 28 outburst. “But aside from that, … [I'm] not really sure what kind of advantage there would be for us to engage any further.” Full story
January 31, 2014
Updated: 1:22 p.m. | After questioning the NY1 reporter whom Rep. Michael G. Grimm threatened to throw off a balcony during a post-State of the Union outburst, Capitol Police have closed the books on the incident without pressing criminal charges.
“Yes, we did speak to the reporter,” Capitol Police spokesman Shennell Antrobus confirmed to CQ Roll Call on Friday morning. “We have no complainant, so we’re not going to pursue anything further.”
Antrobus said that the police had done their “due diligence” in examining the threat and now consider the matter closed.
The department had no public comment when asked if it had spoken with Grimm about the combative exchange, during which Grimm threatened the reporter after Scotto asked about a probe into alleged campaign finance fraud.
Bill Miller, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia told CQ Roll Call on Friday morning that he had no news on the incident. Miller previously stated that he could “neither confirm or deny” an investigation into Grimm’s actions.
The congressman’s office told CQ Roll Call that Grimm has not been contacted by Capitol Police or the House sergeant-at-arms, the chamber’s highest law enforcement officer. Chief of Staff Chris Berardini said in a Friday morning email that Grimm plans to have lunch with Scotto very soon.
Don Kellaher, the House deputy sergeant-at-arms, said his office had no comment on the incident.
The talks are part of a probe into what happened when Grimm grumbled at the credentialed TV reporter, saying he would break the journalist in half “like a boy.”
The Radio-Television Correspondents Association, an association representing broadcast journalists who report on Congress, previously said they planned to investigate the incident.
Update 1:22 p.m.
NBC Universal’s Frank Thorp, chairman of RTCA, confirmed on Friday afternoon that journalists will continue probing.
“The RTCA Executive Committee is still looking into the matter, and we have invited representatives from NY1 to attend our monthly meeting next Friday,” Thorp said in an email.
The watchdogs at Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and Common Cause have both called for a congressional ethics probe into Grimm’s threat.
Correction: 1:22 p.m.
An earlier version of this article misquoted Capitol Police spokesman Shennell Antrobus.
Capitol Police have questioned the NY1 reporter who Rep. Michael G. Grimm threatened to throw off a Rotunda balcony during a State of the Union outburst.
The talks are part of a probe into what happened when Grimm grumbled at the credentialed TV reporter, saying he would break the journalist in half “like a boy,” according to the station.
NY1 reports that the department contacted reporter Michael Scotto on Thursday, one day after the New York Republican issued an apology for the threat, to ask about the incident. Scotto said he did not want to press criminal charges.
January 29, 2014
How do law enforcement officials react when a member of Congress threatens a credentialed member of the press with bodily harm in a public place on camera? Slowly.
Members of the Fourth Estate might seek more than an apology from Rep. Michael G. Grimm for his threat to throw a New York television reporter off a balcony during a post-State of the Union interview. But so far, they seem to be the only ones willing to demand some sort of action beyond accepting Grimm’s day-after contrition.
The Radio-Television Correspondents Association, an organization representing more than 3,600 broadcast journalists who report on Congress, is still weighing how to handle the New York Republican’s aggressive treatment of NY1 television reporter Michael Scotto — and the reporters seem to be the only group intent on holding the second-term lawmaker accountable. Full story
January 15, 2014
Minutes before the House cast a vote on the trillion-dollar package to fund, among other things, its own operations, Speaker John A. Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi hammed it up for the chamber’s new chief administrative officer.
At a small reception in the ornate Rayburn Room, the Ohio Republican and California Democrat congratulated Ed Cassidy on his appointment and ribbed him about the transition from behind-the-scenes director of House Operations to the more public role of CAO.
“You’ll have to forgive me, I may not be very eloquent today, because it’s usually Ed telling me what to say at these things,” Boehner joked. “Like I always say, you only tease the ones you love … and the one who signs your paycheck.” Full story
Close to 100 people, some waving orange index cards asking, “Where are the women?” crowded the hallway outside the House Judiciary Committee room in the Rayburn Office Building on Wednesday morning.
Among those waving the tiny signs were Democratic committee members Judy Chu of California and Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas. They stood alongside female colleagues and abortion rights protesters for a makeshift protest of the markup of a bill to restrict funding for the procedure.
“It’s increasingly evident that the only women’s agenda that the Republicans have put forward is to take away your health care rights and then tell you to get lost,” said Rep. Louise M. Slaughter, D-N.Y., who criticized the fact that there are no female members of the committee’s GOP majority. She vowed to take the issue up with House leadership.
January 7, 2014
Minutes after the House wrapped up the opening quorum call for the 113th Congress’ second session, Speaker John A. Boehner swore in one of his closest aides as the chamber’s chief administrative officer.
Boehnerland veteran Ed Cassidy, who most recently served as director of House Operations for the speaker’s office, raised his right hand to take the oath shortly after 7 p.m. Full story
November 21, 2013
Rep. Trey Radel is getting help for his addiction, as promised.
“Today, I checked myself into a facility to seek treatment and counseling,” the Florida Republican said in a statement shared with CQ Roll Call. “It is my hope, through this process, I will come out a better man. I will work hard to gain back the trust and support of my constituents, friends and most importantly, my family.”
The news comes one day after his conviction on a misdemeanor charge for possession of cocaine and a press conference in Cape Coral, Fla., during which he announced he was taking a leave of absence from Congress and promised to seek “intensive” inpatient treatment.
While Radel is back in southwest Florida, his Washington, D.C. office remains open for business. The door to his first-floor Longworth office was unlocked, lights were on, and staffers were present.
Has Rep. Trey Radel been snorting cocaine with other members of Congress or congressional staff?
The watchdogs at Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington are calling on the Office of Congressional Ethics to investigate that, and many other questions surrounding the Florida Republican’s conduct during his first 10 months on Capitol Hill.
“As a member of Congress who has lived in the District of Columbia for less than a year, how did he become acquainted with a cocaine dealer?” writes CREW in a four-page letter to the independent, nonpartisan entity charged with reviewing allegations of misconduct against members, officers and staff of the House. Full story
November 20, 2013
A freshman lawmaker being busted for cocaine possession wasn’t exactly what Speaker John A. Boehner was hoping to deal with this week.
The challenge for the Ohio Republican — who has shown leniency to Florida Republican Rep. Trey Radel so far — is to contain the damage amid the unseemly details of Radel’s Oct. 29 arrest and to square his light touch in this case with his past pronouncements of having little tolerance for ethical lapses.
Radel pleaded guilty to misdemeanor possession of cocaine Wednesday in D.C. Superior Court, promising to seek treatment for his addiction so he can “continue serving this country.” Full story
October 5, 2013
On day five of the government shutdown, House lawmakers commended themselves for providing some peace of mind to furloughed federal employees while continuing to cast blame over who is responsible ongoing shutdown.
“Finally, a moment of decency,” said Rep. Gerald E. Connolly, D-Va., minutes before the vote on legislation to retroactively pay the roughly 800,000 furloughed federal workers. “Today’s bill at least redresses one wrong in this otherwise Orwellian exercise called the federal shutdown.”
Connolly and other Democrats continued criticizing GOP’s piecemeal approach to reopening government agencies — a path that has been rejected by the Senate and President Barack Obama — instead of simply voting on a “clean” continuing resolution to reopen the government.
The bill passed 407-0, with all of the lawmakers present for the Saturday morning session voting in favor.
“It’s encouraging to see both parties come together to provide fairness for the 800,000 federal workers hurt by this shutdown,” Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, said in statement after the vote. “Now we should do something about the 800,000 jobs being destroyed by the president’s health care law. That’s why Republicans are working every day to reopen the government and provide fairness for all.”
“Surely, we the board of directors of the greatest enterprise on earth can take care of our employees and give them confidence that they deserve,” said Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., after throwing stones at GOP leaders for not bringing a clean continuing resolution to the floor.
Rep. Frank R. Wolf, R-Va., who introduced the bill Tuesday along with co-sponsor Rep. James P. Moran, D-Va., reminded lawmakers that the 12 people killed in September’s Navy Yard shooting were all federal employees.
“I saw the movie ‘Zero Dark Thirty,’” Wolf said. “The woman who did that movie, has she been furloughed? Should she not get paid?”
Many lawmakers referenced the Capitol Police officers on guard outside the building, and the traumatic events that brought the Capitol into lockdown on Thursday.
“This is about fairness,” Moran said.
A nearly identical proposal from Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin, D-Md., has bipartisan support, and the chamber is expected to consider some form of the back-pay legislation. The White House has indicated the president will sign it.
“I’m glad to see at the very least the Senate has plans to take up this bill,” said House Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers, R-Ky. “Stop the presses, the Senate is going to take up a bill even if they won’t consider most of our other bills.”
Labor and employee groups have offered support for the bill.
“While Congress plays political games determining how to pay its bills, for middle-class families, a government shutdown means not knowing if or when they will be able to pay mortgages, utility bills and buy groceries,” said Joseph Beaudoin, president of the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association in a statement.
“Federal employees are not the cause of our nation’s financial problems, yet they continue to be targeted by Congress,” he said. “With the passage of the Federal Employee Retroactive Pay Fairness Act, these employees, who provide vital services to the American people, will have a little peace of mind.”