Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
December 18, 2014

Posts by Hannah Hess

343 Posts

December 17, 2014

McConnell Announces New Senate Sergeant-at-Arms

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Willison will join the ranks of former SAAs (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is sweeping the decks at the Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Office, replacing SAA Drew Willison with former Navy SEAL and Defense Department alumnus Frank J. Larkin for the 114th Congress.

James W. Morhard, a former chief of staff on the Senate Appropriations Committee with more than 20 years of experience in the chamber, returns to Capitol Hill after a decade in the private sector to replace Michael Stenger in the No. 2 spot in the office, the Kentucky Republican announced on Wednesday. Full story

December 16, 2014

Fired Staffer Sues Farenthold, Alleging Sexually Charged Workplace

farenthold 146 042413 440x301 Fired Staffer Sues Farenthold, Alleging Sexually Charged Workplace

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Blake Farenthold is being accused of discussing “sexual fantasies” and “wet dreams” about a former staffer with one of his employees in a lawsuit that alleges the Texas Republican created a hostile work environment on Capitol Hill.

The complaint filed on Dec. 12 in District of Columbia court by Lauren Greene, who was fired from her position as Farenthold’s communications director in July, was first reported Tuesday by the National Law Journal. Greene claims the two-term congressman regularly drank to excess, and “because of his tendency to flirt, the staffers who accompanied him to Capitol Hill functions would joke that they had to be on ‘red-head patrol’ to keep him out of trouble.” Full story

December 15, 2014

House Ethics Committee Scolds Phil Gingrey for Bank Ties

gingrey002 080114 440x300 House Ethics Committee Scolds Phil Gingrey for Bank Ties

As he headed for the exits, Gingrey was rebuked by the House Ethics Committee. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

As six-term Rep. Phil Gingrey wraps up his career in Congress, the House Ethics Committee took the Georgia Republican to task for helping a bank in which he held up to $250,000 in stock warrants.

The committee scolded Gingrey for providing “special favors or privileges” to the now-failed Bank of Ellijay by arranging for its representatives to meet with high-level Treasury Department and House staff, as well as with Rep. Spencer Bachus, R-Ala., then-ranking member of the House Financial Services Committee. Full story

By Hannah Hess Posted at 12:45 p.m.
Ethics, Investigations

December 11, 2014

House Ethics Chides Hastings for Talking Sex, Underwear With Aide

elections002 111710 440x292 House Ethics Chides Hastings for Talking Sex, Underwear With Aide

House Ethics Committee cleared Hastings, left, of sexual harassment. (Tom Williams/Roll Call File Photo)

The House Ethics Committee cleared Rep. Alcee Hastings of a sexual harassment case in the waning hours of the 113th Congress, but chided the Florida Democrat for unprofessional behavior with a female employee of the United States Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe.

Two comments Hastings admitted to making during a 2008 trip to Vienna — one about not being able to sleep after sex, and another about female members of Congress wearing the same underwear all day — were deemed inappropriate. However, like a federal judge did in 2012, the Ethics Committee is letting Hastings off the hook. Full story

By Hannah Hess Posted at 9:26 p.m.
Ethics

Emanuel Cleaver Confronted by Pot Protesters (Video)

 Emanuel Cleaver Confronted by Pot Protesters (Video)

Protesters shut down Maryland Avenue Northeast. (Hannah Hess/CQ Roll Call)

 

The pro-pot group protesting Congress’ intervention into local marijuana policy did not cause an uproar on Capitol grounds Wednesday night, but they did clash with a congressman.

Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II, riding with his chief of staff in a black sedan, encountered a few of the most antagonistic individuals on Maryland Avenue Northeast. About two dozen demonstrators, mostly associated with the D.C. Cannabis Campaign, were blocking traffic following a brief protest at the Heritage Foundation’s nearby headquarters.

Full story

Chu Chastised for Interfering in House Ethics Investigation

chu 14 020811 440x292 Chu Chastised for Interfering in House Ethics Investigation

(Bill Clark/Roll Call File Photo)

Concluding a probe it launched in March 2012 into allegations that Rep. Judy Chu tasked her official staff with campaign work while they were on the clock, the House Ethics Committee rebuked the California Democrat Thursday for interfering with its investigation.

Investigators learned a staffer had drafted a memo for an August 2011 fundraising lunch at the direction of Chu’s legislative director. They also discovered a second staffer spent several hours sifting through emails to Chu’s campaign account that were sent in response to a “military hazing” email. Full story

By Hannah Hess Posted at 6:21 p.m.
Ethics

Tom Petri Off the Hook With Ethics Committee

petri 064 071012 440x292 Tom Petri Off the Hook With Ethics Committee

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The House Ethics Committee delivered some good news to Rep. Tom Petri on his final day of legislative business in Congress: Their review of allegations against the Wisconsin Republican has closed, with no wrongdoing found.

If any bad conduct occurred, the committee concluded, it might have been because Petri was acting on bad advice from Ethics Committee staffers, who are burdened with hundreds of requests for guidance each week. Full story

By Hannah Hess Posted at 4:47 p.m.
Ethics

Staff Changes at Senate Ethics Committee as Isakson Prepares to Take Gavel

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Isakson will take the gavel on the Senate Ethics Committee. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The director of investigations on the House Ethics Committee has been named as the new staff director and chief counsel of the Senate Ethics Committee, in a slate of changes announced by the secretive panel on Thursday.

Deborah Mayer, who has overseen all ethics investigations conducted in the House since 2011, will replace John Sassaman, who departed after more than six years in the post to be ethics director for the Boeing Company’s Government Operations program. He was well-respected by staff and left big shoes to fill, according to those familiar with the process. Full story

By Hannah Hess Posted at 3:57 p.m.
Ethics

Enacted or Not Enacted? On D.C. Pot Initiative, Depends on Whom You Ask

pot presser001 111314 1 440x292 Enacted or Not Enacted? On D.C. Pot Initiative, Depends on Whom You Ask

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

 

Top Democrats in the House, including Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, are aligning with Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton’s interpretation of an anti-marijuana rider attached to the end-of-the-year spending package.

Norton contends the language in the rider does not block a referendum passed by an overwhelming number of District voters that legalizes possession and cultivation of small amounts of marijuana. According to a Pelosi spokesman, the California Democrat agrees with Norton’s interpretation of the rider. Full story

December 10, 2014

Campaign Finance Provisions Causing ‘Cromnibus’ Heartburn

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McConnell has long opposed limits on campaign finance practices. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Despite backlash from Democrats, good government groups think the language in the year-end spending bill that alters campaign finance law benefits both parties’ pocketbooks too much for it to be carved out.

The watchdogs were among the first to criticize provisions buried deep in the “cromnibus” released Tuesday night that would dramatically ease spending limits on individual contributions to national political party committees. Full story

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