Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
September 2, 2015

Posts by Bridget Bowman

322 Posts

September 1, 2015

OPM Awards Credit-Monitoring Contract in Wake of Data Breach

Millions of individuals affected by the June data breach at the Office of Personnel Management will receive three years of credit monitoring and identity theft insurance, the agency announced Tuesday.

The Office of Personnel Management and the Department of Defense have awarded a more-than-$130 million contract to Identity Theft Guard Solutions, working as “ID Experts,” to provide three years of services to the 21.5 million individuals, and their dependent children, affected by the June data breach that involved background investigations. More than 22 million current, former and prospective government employees were affected by two breaches at the agency, which were first reported in early June. Full story

August 31, 2015

Slain Former Intern Remembered at American University

Kevin Sutherland in front of the White House. (Photo courtesy of the Sutherland family)

Sutherland stands in front of the White House. (Courtesy of the Sutherland family)

On a small altar at the American University chapel sat red, white and blue flowers, a New York Yankees cap, and a picture of a beaming young man standing in front of the White House.

More than 100 students, faculty and members of the community gathered at the Kay Spiritual Life Center on the northwest D.C. campus to remember the young man in the picture: Kevin Sutherland.

Full story

GPO Touts ‘Historic Low’ of Discrimination Complaints

(Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Government Publishing Office is on track to report the lowest number of workplace discrimination complaints in nearly 20 years, the agency announced Monday.

The GPO, which is responsible for printing, publishing and preserving the federal government’s documents, said in a statement it is set to report a “historic low” eight formal equal employment opportunity complaints in 2015. That is a more than 50 percent decrease from 2014 and more than an 80 percent decrease from 2013.

“We think the decline is attributed to the fact that we’ve put a lot of emphasis on educating our employees, the whole workforce really,” Juanita Flores, who manages the GPO’s Office of Equal Employment Opportunity, said in a phone interview. Full story

By Bridget Bowman Posted at 11:41 a.m.
GPO

August 28, 2015

Will The Supreme Court Become ‘First Amendment-Free Zone?’

(Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

(Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

A federal appeals court ruled Friday that protesters at the Supreme Court of the United States are confined to the sidewalk, which was disappointing news to those who argued that restricting demonstrations on the court’s plaza violated the First Amendment.

“The Constitution guarantees the right to peaceably assemble … [It] doesn’t say just to petition Congress or the president, but the government. And the Supreme Court is one of the three branches of government,” attorney Jeffrey Light, who argued that a ban on demonstrations was unconstitutional, said in a phone interview. “The court has essentially created a First Amendment-free zone on the plaza of the Supreme Court.” Full story

August 26, 2015

Virginia Shooting Sparks Discussions About Journalism, Gun Control (Updated)

Updated 2:40 p.m. | After two journalists were shot and killed in southwest Virginia Wednesday morning, one nearby congressman said their tragic deaths highlighted the risks of their profession.

Reporter Alison Parker, 24, and cameraman Adam Ward, 27, of the CBS affiliate WDBJ7 in Roanoke, Va., were shot and killed during a live broadcast at Smith Mountain Lake. The suspected shooter is former WDBJ employee Vester Flanagan, according to multiple reports. Condolences came pouring in from members of Virginia’s congressional delegation and other officials, expressing shock and sadness at the brutal murders. For one lawmaker, their murder also pointed to the risks journalists take as they go on assignment. Full story

August 21, 2015

Labor Group Sees ‘Pattern of Retaliation’ Against Capitol Workers

Forty Capitol workers went on strike in July to call for higher wages and a union. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Forty Capitol workers went on strike in July. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Less than a week after the Senate food vendor settled a dispute regarding retaliation against workers who went on strike, a supervisor allegedly reprimanded a worker who spoke out against her wages.

Kim, a worker in the Dirksen Senate Office Building who asked not to be identified with her last name, detailed in an Aug. 6 piece for The Guardian how she could not make ends meet with $10.33-an-hour wages and resorted to dancing in a strip club for extra money. Full story

August 19, 2015

Ex-Cochran Aide Pleads Guilty to Drug Conspiracy

UNITED STATES - JULY 9: Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., heads to the Senate floor for a vote on Wednesday, July 9, 2014. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Cochran heads to the Senate floor for a vote on July 9. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The former aide to Mississippi GOP Sen. Thad Cochran who was arrested as part of a sex-for-drugs scheme pleaded guilty Wednesday to conspiring to distribute methamphetamine.

Fred Pagan, 49, admitted in federal court just a few blocks from the Capitol that from February until he was arrested in April, he participated in a scheme to possess and distribute meth and assist others in possessing the drug.

On April 23, Homeland Security Investigations agents raided Pagan’s home in Northwest D.C. after law enforcement intercepted a package of the date rape drug gamma-Butyrolactone, or GBL, which was shipped to the address from China. During the raid, the agents also discovered meth in a tightly wrapped package in a binder underneath his bed. In earlier court documents, Pagan allegedly told authorities he had planned to elicit sexual favors in exchange for the GBL and the meth.

Pagan was originally charged with one count of possession and intent to distribute and one count of importing a controlled substance. In April, he pleaded not guilty to the charges, and attorneys indicated in July that a plea deal was in the works.

But Wednesday, Pagan pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute. U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Pearlman declined to comment as he exited the hearing. And a spokesperson for the U.S. attorney’s office also declined to comment on the change in charges, citing an ongoing investigation.

Pagan and defense attorney Kobie A. Flowers did not comment as they left the courtroom following the plea hearing, which lasted around 30 minutes. During the proceedings, the gray-haired Pagan stood solemnly as he responded to U.S District Judge Beryl A. Howell’s questions about his guilty plea.

In questions about his competency, Pagan revealed has been receiving treatment for a meth addiction and takes daily medication. “I feel good,” Pagan said when asked if the medication affected him. “That’s what the medication does for me.”

According to court documents, Pagan admitted to knowingly and willfully conspiring “with other persons both known and unknown” to distribute, and possess with intent to distribute, meth. The U.S. attorney’s office declined to comment on whether the revelation of a conspiracy  or that Pagan was working with other individuals  indicated there would be further arrests in the case.

The statement of offenses obtained, which Pagan agreed to as part of his plea, cites two other individuals involved in the scheme, only identified as “Co-Conspirator 1″ and “Co-Conspirator 2.” According to the court documents, Pagan used meth from at least November 2014 until April 2015.

In February 2015, Pagan agreed to obtain meth from “CC1″ which was shipped to Pagan via “CC2.” Pagan allegedy received one package of meth in February and four in March. He and CC1 arranged for CC1 to pick up the packages at Pagan’s home, since the co-conspirator “in part wanted to avoid detection” for too many packages going to his or her residence.  Pagan was allegedly aware CC1 distributed meth to other individuals and also drove CC1 to the airport on at least two occasions where CC1 “traveled in part to obtain methamphetamine.”

Though there was no mention in the hearing of the date rape drug that prompted the federal raid, the statement of offense did address the GBL. According to the document, Pagan admitted to ordering GBL and to doing so on at least two other occasions. He also admitted to using GBL and sometimes selling meth to friends.

The arrest cost Pagan his job, where he earned around $160,000 annually working as Cochran’s personal assistant and office administrator, according to the LegiStorm database. Cochran’s office dismissed Pagan on May 15, after he spent decades working for the Mississippi Republican. Pagan, a native of Jackson, Mich., first came to the Senate as a page for Cochran when he was 16 years old, and essentially never left. He reportedly finished his high school degree while continuing to work for Cochran, and confirmed in court Wednesday that he did not earn a college degree.

By pleading guilty to the felony offense, Pagan faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $1 million. He also could receive a term of supervised release of a minimum of three years and up to life. Pagan also agreed to pay a “special assessment” of $100 per felony conviction.

Pagan was released under the same prior conditions that he continue treatment and return to court. The sentencing hearing is scheduled for Oct. 30.

Related:

Former Cochran Staffer Hopes for Plea Deal in Sex-for-Drugs Case

Senate Aide Pleads ‘Not Guilty’ to Drug Charges

Cochran Staffer Confesses to Sex-for-Drugs Scheme, Feds Say

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August 18, 2015

Slain Intern a ‘Terrible Tragedy,’ Says Portman

UNITED STATES - MARCH 13: U.S. Capitol police investigate a suspicious package at 1st and D St. NE. (Photo By Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call)

(Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

For the second time this summer, a former congressional intern was killed in the District of Columbia, as a spike in violent crime continues to rock the nation’s capital.

Matthew Shlonsky, 23, was shot and killed around 5 p.m. Saturday, though police said he did not appear to be the target. Shlonsky resided in Northeast D.C., but hailed from Ohio. The 2014 American University graduate interned for Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, from January to May in 2013. Full story

August 11, 2015

GAO Employees Indicted for School Lunch Fraud (Updated)

Gene L. Dodaro is the GAO comptroller general (Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly File Photo)

Gene L. Dodaro is the GAO comptroller general. (Scott J. Ferrell/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 4:24 p.m. | Five employees with the Government Accountability Office, and one GAO employee’s spouse, were indicted Tuesday for working to illegally obtain reduced-price lunches for their children.

The indictment resulted from the legislative branch agency’s own investigation into the school meals program, which found some of the GAO’s employees applied for the program and underreported their income to gain access to the reduced-price lunches. After the agency discovered the illegal activity, the GAO reported applications to the agency’s inspector general. Full story

Sodexo Takes Over the House

(CQ Roll Call File Photo).

(CQ Roll Call File Photo)

In one House cafeteria, closed doors and cardboard boxes. In another, red, white and blue balloons.

Sodexo, an international food vendor, officially took over the House dining services Monday, causing a number of areas to close for construction while posting new signs and decorations in the cafeterias that remained open. Full story

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