Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
October 1, 2014

September 30, 2014

Judge Rules Larry Craig Must Repay Campaign Funds Used in Bathroom Scandal

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Craig talks to reporters in 2007 after the bathroom sex scandal was revealed. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Larry Craig’s 2007 arrest in a Minnesota airport bathroom sex sting continues to cost the former senator.

A federal judge in the District of Columbia has ordered the Idaho Republican to pay $242,535 to the Department of the Treasury. U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson ruled Craig must repay $197,533 in campaign funds from the Craig Committee, which functioned as “little more than an alter-ego for Senator Craig himself,” plus a $45,000 fine.

Federal Election Commission officials filed the complaint against Craig in 2012, alleging he illegally converted campaign money for personal use because the legal expenditures were not “made in connection with Mr. Craig’s campaign for federal office and were not ordinary and necessary expenses incurred in connection with his duties as a Senator.”

Craig’s attempts to dismiss the lawsuit were unsuccessful. Full story

By Hannah Hess Posted at 6:56 p.m.
Ethics

Ethics Office Finds Evidence Petri Violated House Rules

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Petri will get a look, says the House Ethics Committee. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The House Ethics Committee announced on Tuesday it will continue to investigate whether Rep. Tom Petri, R-Wis., used his position in Congress to help certain companies in which he held significant financial interest.

But that’s the last the public will likely hear of the investigation.

Petri is retiring at the end of the 113th Congress, at which time the committee’s purview to probe his alleged misconduct will expire. And with Congress in recess until after the midterm elections, members of the panel have little time to act before the 17-term lawmaker’s last day on Capitol Hill. Full story

Omar Gonzalez Charged in White House Breach

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Secret Service Director Julia Pierson testified before Congress on Tuesday about the breach. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Omar J. Gonzalez could spend 15 years in prison following his White House intrusion, which has raised  serious questions about the Secret Service.

A federal grand jury on Tuesday indicted Gonzalez, 42, formerly of Copperas Cove, Texas, on one federal charge of unlawfully entering a restricted building or grounds, while carrying a deadly or dangerous weapon, and two violations of D.C. law: carrying a dangerous weapon outside a home or place of business, and unlawful possession of ammunition.

U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. and Kathy A. Michalko, a special agent in charge of the Secret Service’s Washington field office, announced the charges against Gonzalez, who has been in custody since his arrest on Sept. 19. Full story

By Hannah Hess Posted at 5:15 p.m.
Uncategorized

Secret Service Takes Beating in Rare Recess Hearing (Video)

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Cummings and Issa greet Pierson. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Secret Service Director Julia Pierson took a beating from nearly 20 House Oversight and Government Reform Committee lawmakers who traveled back to Washington for Tuesday’s rare, three-and-a-half hour recess hearing.

Droves of photographers packed into the panel’s Rayburn meeting room to capture Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., demanding succinct responses from Pierson about botched security and the Sept. 19 incident in which Iraq war veteran Omar J. Gonzalez jumped the White House fence and made it into the building.

“Ma’am, I want a short answer,” Issa challenged during the first round of questioning for the embattled director. “I have very little time. Was he in fact — the federal complaint said he was — he was in fact apprehended in one place. Isn’t it true he was apprehended further into the White House?”

Full story

Watch Live: House Committee Hearing on White House Security Breach

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee holds a hearing examining the Sept. 19 intrusion into the White House by 42-year-old Omar J. Gonzalez, who officials say climbed the north fence of the complex and bolted into the North Portico with a 3 1/2-inch serrated blade folding knife in his pocket.

The committee has invited Secret Service Director Julia Pierson to testify. The hearing begins at 10 a.m.

Hannah Hess contributed to this report.

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September 29, 2014

D.C. to White House: Don’t Fence Us Out

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Norton toured the White House perimeter on Monday morning to examine recent security changes. (Photo courtesy of Norton’s office)

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton didn’t like the lay of the land during a Monday stroll down Pennsylvania Avenue.

“On my visit to the White House perimeter this morning, I saw the ugly barriers that keep people a few feet from the fence, with signs affixed to the barriers that said ‘Police Line, Do Not Cross,’” the D.C. Democrat said in a statement released on the eve of a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on Secret Service protocol.

Since Omar J. Gonzalez scaled the north fence on Sept. 19 and ran 70 yards to the unlocked front doors of the White House, the House GOP has been increasingly critical of the agency. New revelations reported by The Washington Post on Sunday, including that it took four days to realize gunfire had struck the White House in 2011, have raised fresh concern. Meanwhile, District officials fear new policies that could be detrimental to D.C. Full story

Roland Burris Accused of Shakedown Scheme During Senate Tenure

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An FBI informant alleged Burris was involved in an extortion scheme while in the Senate. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Three years after his brief stint in the Senate, a federal court case in Chicago has raised questions about Illinois Democrat Roland Burris’ conduct while he was in office.

His name came up during a pre-trial hearing on Sept. 26 in a bizarre case against a businessman accused of illegally lobbying to overturn U.S. sanctions on the regime of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe. Defense attorneys questioned Burris’ credibility as a witness because of allegations he was involved in a shakedown scheme during his time in the Senate.

Then-Sen. Burris offered to promote a business to the U.S. military in exchange for a $250,000 a year job when he left office, court documents allege. An FBI informant made the claim in 2012 during grand jury testimony, according to a transcript of the sidebar conversation between the judge and attorneys that was shared by the Chicago Sun-Times. Full story

September 26, 2014

‘Women Who Make a Difference’ Honored in D.C.

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(Clark Mindock/CQ Roll Call)

An audience of mostly women filled the banquet hall of the Woman’s National Democratic Club in Northwest D.C. Thursday evening to honor four women in the first Women Who Make a Difference awards, organized by the Top Ladies of Distinction D.C. chapter.

The honorees represented a spectrum of public service in the nation’s capital, from the rising political career of D.C. mayoral front-runner Muriel Bowser to the first female African American U.S. senator, former Ambassador to New Zealand Carol Moseley Braun.

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From left: Bowser, Girton-Mitchell, Moseley Braun, during the Top Ladies of Distinction awards ceremony Thursday night. (Clark Mindock/CQ Roll Call)

“It’s very humbling, because I’m doing what I’m supposed to do,” said another honoree, Rev. Brenda Girton-Mitchell, the director of the Department of Education’s Center for Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. “To have people wanting to recognize that is very extraordinary,” she added. Full story

Holder Says It’s ‘Long Past Time’ for D.C. Voting Rights

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Holder says there’s more work to be done on behalf of voting rights in D.C. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A day after announcing his exit, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. paid lip service to voting rights for residents of the District of Columbia.

Holder, who previously served as a D.C. Superior Court judge and U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, said the Justice Department would continue fighting “until all Americans have equal access to the ballot box,” during a speech to the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation.

“And when I talk about all who want to be heard in the halls of the federal government, I am including the more than 600,000 taxpayers, who, like me — like me, live in the District of Columbia and still have no voting representation in Congress,” Holder said Friday.

“We pay our taxes, we die in the Army, we have a great representative, and we do not have voting rights,” he continued. “It is long past time for every citizen to be afforded his or her full responsibilities as well as our full rights.”

Holder did not outline any specific actions he would take on behalf of D.C. as he waits for a successor to be confirmed, but the line drew a big round of applause.

During the speech, the nation’s first black attorney general reminisced about his earliest encounter with the CBC. Holder said he attended a caucus dinner with his aunt when he was a young lawyer “during my first days here in Washington, D.C.”

The New York City native moved to the District after graduating from Columbia Law School in 1976. He was assigned to the newly formed Public Integrity Section. In 1988, President Ronald Reagan nominated Holder to become an associate judge of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. Five years later, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., recommended him to the Clinton administration to serve as the District’s top attorney.

Norton was among the Democrats congratulating Holder on six years of “outstanding work,” saying D.C. residents were especially proud of his tenure.

Related Stories:

Eric Holder Resigns With a Wink and a Nod

D.C. Statehood Hearing Explores Options

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September 25, 2014

Ebola Containment Equipment Gets Capitol Hill Debut

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Kinzinger helped coordinate an Illinois company’s visit with health officials. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A patient isolation chamber suited for the front lines of the fight against Ebola in West Africa arrived Tuesday on the third floor of the Rayburn House Office building.

Congressional aides watched the portable unit, which weighs 35 pounds and has up to 10 hours of battery life, inflate atop a table in the room normally used for subcommittee hearings of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. They reached their hands into the eight glove “arms” around the unit, and examined the ports used for medical tubing.

The portable patient isolation chamber is a tool that “really isn’t being deployed right now,” said Zach Hunter, spokesman for Rep. Adam Kinzinger, who worked in conjunction with a fellow Illinois Republican, Sen. Mark S. Kirk, to bring the Romeoville, Ill., company that manufactures the product to Capitol Hill. Full story

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