Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
July 30, 2015

Posts by Hannah Hess

518 Posts

July 29, 2015

Rep. Chaka Fattah Charged in 29-Count Indictment (Updated) (Video)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Chaka Fattah was indicted Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 2:19 p.m. | Prosecutors charged Rep. Chaka Fattah, D-Pa., Wednesday in a 29-count indictment with racketeering conspiracy, bribery and wire fraud as part of a probe into the 11-term congressman launched by the FBI and IRS in March 2013.

Fattah’s office confirmed he has agreed to give up his leadership post on the Appropriations Committee, where he is the top Democrat overseeing criminal justice and science spending. He will be replaced by Mike Honda, D-Calif., who is currently the subject of an ethics probe.

Fattah has declared his innocence and his plans to run for reelection.

(Read: Despite Fattah indictment, don’t expect a scramble for his seat)

Fattah’s congressional district director, 59-year-old Bonnie Bowser of Philadelphia, and former congressional staffer Karen Nicholas, 57, plus two other individuals were also charged for their alleged involvement in several schemes federal investigators say were intended to further their political and financial interests by misappropriating hundreds of thousands of dollars of federal, charitable and campaign funds. The indictment alleges illegal activity dating back to Fattah’s failed 2007 campaign to serve as mayor of Philadelphia, as well as false congressional campaign filings. Full story

By Hannah Hess Posted at 11:43 a.m.
Ethics, Investigations

On Unattended Guns, Questions Linger for Capitol Police

UNITED STATES - MAY 20: U.S. Capitol Police Chief Kim Dine testifies during the House Administration Committee hearing on the U.S. Capitol Police on Wednesday, May 20, 2015. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Dine is nearing the end of a 90-day probationary period with the Capitol Police Board. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Called before Congress for an oversight hearing after a tumultuous few weeks of reports of loaded service weapons left in problematic places around the Capitol and an ongoing hunt for employees who may have leaked internal information, Capitol Police Chief Kim C. Dine promised the acts would be dealt with “firmly and effectively.”

But 10 weeks after that hearing, and six months after the first incident, only one of the officers who left a weapon unattended has been disciplined. Full story

July 24, 2015

Capitol Police Stop Ex-Cop From Taking Loaded Revolver Into Library

lag flies at half staff over the Library of Congress Jefferson Building to recognize the 50th Anniversary of the John F. Kennedy assassination. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Police at the Library of Congress Jefferson Building found a loaded gun in the Virginia man’s briefcase. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 5:33 p.m. | Capitol Police stopped a 55-year-old Virginia man who claimed to be a local cop from carrying a loaded revolver into the Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building Tuesday.

Jeff Jefferson Ahn, listed as Yong Ahn in documents filed in D.C. Superior Court, entered the Jefferson Building’s carriage entrance on First Street Southeast, Tuesday morning. He placed a black briefcase into the X-ray machine around 9:45 a.m. During screening, an officer noticed what appeared to be a handgun. Full story

Capitol Marks 17 Years Since Fatal Shooting

Capitol Police Officer Gene Petty stands on ceremonial duty before an annual wreath-laying ceremony for U.S. Capitol Police Officer Jacob J. Chestnut and Detective John M. Gibson, killed by a gunman while on duty in 1998. The ceremony took place at an entrance to the Capitol dedicated to the slain officers. (Photo By Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call)

Capitol Police honor two of their own, who were killed by a gunman while on duty in 1998. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

On a day when Louisiana lawmakers and other members of Congress mourned a fatal shooting in a Lafayette movie theater, Capitol Hill also honored two Capitol Police officers killed by a gunman who charged into the Capitol exactly 17 years ago.

“Shots fired at the Document Door. This was some 50 feet from where I was sitting. Two U.S. Capitol Police officers were down,” Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, recalled on Friday. “Their names were Jacob J. Chestnut and John M. Gibson. Between them, they had eight children and 36 years on the job.” Full story

Ike Memorial Panel Adds Ex-NRA Leader

The Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Commission is bringing out the big guns.

Former National Rifle Association President David Keene has joined the commission’s advisory committee, expanding the ranks of a panel that now includes more than 25 prominent individuals, including broadcast journalist Tom Brokaw. Full story

Convicted Republicans Plead for Mandatory Minimums Changes

Kevin Ring, who is serving the remainder of a sentence for bribing public officials under home confinement, is interviewed by CQ Roll Call in the DC office of Families Against Mandatory Minimums, May 11, 2015. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Ring says courts need more leeway in sentencing. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

An ex-colleague of Jack Abramoff shared an anecdote from his stint in prison with a room full of conservatives Thursday. After the one-time Hill climber explained to a fellow inmate that a dog was going to get neutered, the inmate asked the longtime Republican aide, “How long does it take for them to grow back?”

Kevin Ring, the lobbyist who was sentenced in 2011 to 20 months in federal prison for his role in a corruption scheme, was pitching to GOP aides gathered in the Rayburn House Office Building on an effort to overhaul mandatory minimum requirements. Ring, who has been working in downtown Washington, D.C., since his April prison release, wanted the staffers to understand that current guidelines more often send low-level dealers and addicts to prison, not drug kingpins. Full story

July 22, 2015

Tom Brokaw Joins Ike Memorial Board

heater in the the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, May, 19, 2014. Blakey jumped into Normandy on D-Day with the 82nd Airborne. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Brokaw helped make the WWII Memorial a reality. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The group planning a memorial to President Dwight D. Eisenhower announced Wednesday that NBC News’ Tom Brokaw has joined its advisory committee.

Noting that Brokaw’s 1998 best-selling book, “The Greatest Generation,” made him an expert in, and advocate for, the young American soldiers who served under Eisenhower, the Eisenhower Memorial Commission welcomed his support. Headed by Frank Fahrenkopf, former chairman of the Republican National Committee, and Gen. Paul X. Kelley, the former commandant of the Marine Corps, the advisory committee is working to get the controversial memorial built. Full story

National Security or First Amendment? Gyrocopter Case Proceeds

UNITED STATES - MAY 21: Doug Hughes conducts a news conference outside of the E. Barrett Prettyman Federal Courthouse, May 21, 2015, after pleading not guilty to six counts regarding his landing of a gyrocopter on the West Lawn of the Capitol in April. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Hughes wants to argue a “necessity defense” for his gyrocopter flight. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The airspace security concerns Congress has harped on since the April 15 gyrocopter stunt on the West Front continue to delay Douglas Hughes from a federal trial, but the Florida mailman has dreamed up his own defense strategy.

Hughes presented his “necessity defense” to reporters Wednesday, after a status hearing in the federal courthouse mere blocks from the Capitol. Full story

July 21, 2015

With Blagojevich, Court Seems OK With ‘Political Logroll’

Gov. Rod Blagojevich , D-Il., spoke today at the National Press Club about the landmark program, "All Kids," which will cover all uninsured children in Illinois with health care coverage.

Blagojevich will remain behind bars. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A federal appeals court on Tuesday vacated five convictions against former Illinois Gov. and Rep. Rod Blagojevich, who received a 14-year prison sentence in 2011 for his scheme to sell the U.S. Senate seat vacated by now-President Barack Obama.

The judges ruled the convictions on five counts related to trying to score a seat in Obama’s Cabinet could not stand, although they upheld 13 other corruption convictions. Trading one official act for another is a perfectly common, and legal “political logroll,” according to the court. Full story

By Hannah Hess Posted at 7:14 p.m.
Ethics

House Phone System Malfunctions During Maintenance

Phones in the House went down Tuesday morning. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Phones in the House went down Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The phone system in the House went down for roughly one hour Tuesday morning, causing some lawmakers to direct phone calls to their district offices.

Engineers for the chief administrative officer sent a message at 10:43 a.m. to House offices stating, “CAO Engineers are working to resolve a problem preventing external phones from calling House phone numbers.” One hour later, CAO engineers sent another notice that they had “resolved the problem with incoming phone calls.”

The notice did not indicate the cause of the malfunction. When asked about the cause, CAO spokeswoman Emily Goodin wrote in an email to CQ Roll Call, “Routine maintenance was being performed on the phone system when a temporary outage occurred.  The problem has been resolved.”

Though the problem was eventually resolved, the malfunction caused some chaos on Capitol Hill.

A handful of lawmakers’ Twitter accounts attempted to alert constituents about the issue, instructing those looking to contact them to call their district offices.

In Rep. Brad Wenstrup’s Longworth office, Communications Director Greg Brooks first noticed the phone problem around 10:30 a.m. Brooks told CQ Roll Call he was expecting a call from someone, but received an email instead, saying they couldn’t get through. Staffers in the Ohio Republican’s office began investigating the problem, and discovered word was spreading on an internal listserv.

“Our phones in DC are experiencing technical difficulties,” Wenstrup’s official account tweeted at 10:54 a.m., along with contact info for the congressman’s Cinncinatti office.

Fellow Ohio Republican Pat Tiberi tweeted about the problems with the phones in his Longworth office one minute later, instructing those in need of assistance to contact his office in Worthington, Ohio.

Rep. David Joyce, D-Ohio, cited “technical difficulties” in Washington on social media. The phones were down for about 45 minutes, according to Kevin Benacci, Joyce’s deputy chief of staff.

Rep. Robert Pittenger, R-N.C., alerted his constituents to the “out-of-order” phones.

District staff for Rep. Lynn Jenkins helped the Kansas Republican’s Capitol Hill office realize the phone lines were down, according to spokesman Tom Brandt. The office sent out a tweet, instructing callers to dial Jenkins’ Topeka office. About 10 to 15 minutes after the problem was discovered, the phones began working, Brandt said.

As of noon, Rep. Cresent Hardy, R-Nev., was the only congressman to tweet that his phones were back up. A GOP staffer in Las Vegas said staff on the Hill notified Hardy’s district team of the issue. It was resolved 25 minutes later.

Emily Cahn contributed to this report.

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