Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
July 26, 2014

Posts in "Staffers"

July 21, 2014

Ryan Shucard Case Highlights Gun Law Discrepancies

Staff in Rep. Tom Marino’s office are convinced that Ryan Shucard, the press secretary that arrived at the Cannon House Office building toting a 9 mm handgun on Friday morning, was not planning to harm anyone with the gun.

“No, not at all,” said Bill Tighe, chief of staff for the two-term Pennsylvania Republican, said when asked if staff thought Shucard had ill intentions. Capitol Police also indicated it was an accident, according to Tighe.

Tighe said he was not formally aware that Shucard, a resident of Alexandria, Va., owned a gun. Shucard was hired by Marino’s office in late May. Tighe said he did not know whether Shucard, 26, was registered, trained or permitted to hold a gun in Virginia, where gun laws are less strict than in the District. Full story

Muslim on Capitol Hill: Staffers Look to Rebuild

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Staffers participate in a Friday prayer session in the Capitol. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

As rain pelted the capital, more than 200 Muslim Americans gathered in the Cannon House Office Building to break their daily fast.

They are in the midst of Ramadan, the annual monthlong period of fasting from sunup to sundown.

For the Muslim staffers and government employees gathered for a traditional dinner known as an iftar, the night was also a chance to connect with members of Congress and network with other D.C. professionals. “To have this iftar dinner and to do it here in the Capitol, where you belong, where we all belong, was a very smart thing to start,” Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., told the crowd.

Although 200 participants was no small number for the July 10 celebration, the iftar in 2009 drew an estimated 1,000 people to the Hill, thanks in part to an active Congressional Muslim Staff Association. The group was formed in 2006 and regularly held networking events and briefings on the Muslim community.

A few years later, in the 113th Congress, the CMSA did not even list itself as an official association — due to a turnover in leadership, lack of participation and what some regarded as a backlash against Muslim staffers. While the organization is taking steps to re-register as an official association, it is definitely in rebuilding mode.

Former CMSA members are optimistic the staff association will make a comeback as younger staffers step into leadership roles, but there’s a broader problem: attracting young Muslims to Capitol Hill in the first place.

Full story

July 19, 2014

Ryan Shucard Pleads Not Guilty to Carrying Pistol to Capitol Hill

Ryan Shucard, the Capitol Hill aide who allegedly tried to bring a 9 mm handgun and magazine to work Friday, was released from police custody on Saturday afternoon after pleading not guilty to a felony charge for carrying a pistol.

Shucard exercised his Fifth Amendment right during his minute-long arraignment, standing silently beside his lawyer in khaki pants and a long-sleeved, collared shirt with shackles around his ankles and wrists. With no objection from the government lawyers working on the case, D.C. Superior Court Judge Gerald Fisher released Shucard with instructions to return to court on Aug. 7.

When the Colorado native entered the courtroom around 1:30 p.m., a blond woman began dabbing her eyes with a tissue. She was sitting next to a girl and man who later identified themselves as members of Shucard’s family. The trio followed Shucard out of the courtroom. Shucard, his family and his lawyer, Jason Kalafat, declined to comment to CQ Roll Call.

Shucard has been placed on unpaid leave from the office of Rep. Tom Marino, R-Pa., where he had been serving as press secretary since May 2014. The University of Northern Colorado and George Washington University alumnus got his start on the Hill in October 2011 as a staff assistant for then-Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, I-Conn.

What might have provoked the incident, which resulted in Capitol Police arrested Shucard around 9:15 a.m. on Friday morning, remains unclear, but the confiscated handgun has been raising new questions about campus security.

Related:

Handgun Incident Casts Campus Security in New Light

Marino Staffer Arrested for Bringing Gun to Cannon

Scarce Prospects for Senate Shooting Down D.C. Gun Control

D.C. Could Become Nation’s Most Permissive Gun Jurisdiction, Under House Proposal (Video)

Correction:

An earlier version of this post misstated the date Schucard was instructed to return to court.

July 18, 2014

Marino Staffer Arrested for Bringing Gun to Cannon

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Shucard was arrested Friday. (Via Facebook)

Capitol Police arrested a staffer for Rep. Tom Marino Friday morning on charges of carrying a 9mm handgun and magazine into the Cannon House Office building.

Ryan Shucard, the Pennsylvania Republican’s press secretary, was arrested around 9:15 a.m., according to Capitol Police spokeswoman Lt. Kimberly Schneider.

Shucard entered the southeast door of Cannon with the weapon. The Smith & Wesson 9mm and magazine were found during the search required for entry into the building, according to Schneider. People entering Cannon, including those with staff identification badges, like Shucard, are required to step through metal detectors and place bags on the belt of an X-Ray machine.

Shucard is charged with carrying a pistol without a license, a felony. He is currently being processed at Capitol Police headquarters.

Schucard was immediately placed on unpaid leave from Marino’s office, chief of staff Bill Tighe told CQ Roll Call in a phone call. “That will last until we know more about the situation,” Tighe said.

Full story

July 16, 2014

Pedro Ribeiro Leaves Gray for Obama, Will Be Replaced by Doxie McCoy (Updated)

DC budget 12 100913 440x312 Pedro Ribeiro Leaves Gray for Obama, Will Be Replaced by Doxie McCoy (Updated)

As Gray’s chief spokesman heads to the Obama administration, Norton’s former communications director takes his place. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 12:43 p.m. | As chief spokesman for Mayor Vincent Gray, Pedro Ribeiro tried to keep the focus on the scandal-plagued executive’s governing achievements amidst allegations of corruption against Gray from Justice Department prosecutors.

Now, approximately four months after “Uncle Earl“ reshaped the D.C. mayoral race and helped dash Gray’s hopes for a second term, Ribeiro will leave his side to join the Obama administration.

Ribeiro’s Aug. 8th departure for a senior post at the Department of Homeland Security was announced in a Tuesday email to members of Gray’s cabinet and quickly made the rounds in local media after a Tweet from WUSA 9′s Bruce Johnson. The announcement lauded Ribeiro, known for his sometimes tough, passionate defense of Gray.

“Pedro has been a trusted and valued advisor and counselor to the Mayor and his entire senior team as well as an effective spokesperson who managed to disagree with the press when he had to without being disagreeable,” Gray chief of staff Chris Murphy said in the email. “We are sorry to see him go.”

Ribeiro has been with the mayor for nearly three years. In an interview with the Washington City Paper, he said being combative was part of the job and said, ”There are instances where I have been a dick, and I know it.”

In an interview with CQ Roll Call, Ribeiro said that it was “part in parcel” of his job to defend the Gray administration in instances where they clashed with the federal government.

During the October 2013 federal government shutdown, Gray sent a letter to the Office of Management and Budget declaring all the city’s workers essential, in an effort to avoid putting the jobs of roughly 32,000 District workers at risk of furlough. He also demanded a meeting with President Barack Obama to talk about the harmful impact of the budget stalemate on the city.

Ribeiro pointed out that Capitol Hill veterans who go to work for the administration often have to deal with the same conflicts between their boss and the president and said that on the “vast majority of policies,” Gray was pleased with where the federal government was going.

The White House has lured other prominent Gray administration officials to its ranks. In February, Harriet Tregoning, then-director of the D.C. Office of Planning announced she would resign to go to work for the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Several deputies have recently departed the lame-duck mayor’s administration.

Ribeiro is being replaced by his deputy, Capitol Hill alumna Doxie McCoy. The former spokeswoman for Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., will be promoted to Gray’s communications director.

July 11, 2014

Ex-Senate Staff Director Debuts New Drama at Capital Fringe Festival

As staff director of the Senate Rules Committee, Jean Parvin Bordewich played a major role in staging the 2013 presidential inaugural ceremonies.

While on vacation from Capitol Hill in August of last year, Bordewich penned her own production. In New York’s Hudson Valley she finished the first draft of “Marriage, Lizards and Love,” a play that tells the tale of a young couple’s fracturing marriage premiering at this summer’s Capital Fringe Festival.

Bordewich, who retired at the end of May after more than 20 years as a congressional staffer, said in recent interview that despite the many parallels, she was at first shy about sharing her creative venture with her Capitol Hill colleagues. Full story

July 8, 2014

Health Insurance for Congress and Staff: It’s Complicated

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DC HealthLink sent representatives to the Hart Senate Office Building to help employees with health insurance enrollment last December. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

As members of Congress and their staffs head into their second year of enrollment in D.C.’s health exchange, they’ll decide among plans that range from a double-digit increase to a double-digit percent decrease in premiums, even as providers go in different directions that will result in fewer overall plans to choose from.

Congress accounts for more than a quarter of the 50,520 people enrolled in the D.C. health exchange. As of July 1, there were 12,906 members of Congress and staffers enrolled in DC SHOP plans, according to D.C. Health Benefit Exchange spokeswoman Linda Wharton Boyd.

It is unclear which of the four carriers providing coverage to Congress is most popular among members and staffers. Boyd said D.C.’s health benefit exchange did not release carrier statistics to the public. But each carrier has taken a varied approach to premiums and the number of plans offered to Capitol Hill workers.

Full story

June 10, 2014

New LGBT Leadership for House and Senate Staffers

The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Congressional Staff Association, the House of Representatives’ bipartisan LGBT organization, has announced new leadership changes.

Michelle Mittler, director of scheduling and special events for Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., will serve as the organization’s first female president. Mitchell Rivard, communications director for Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Mich., will serve as vice president.

GLASS, the Senate LGBT organization, announced last week that Justin Laufer, a legislative correspondent for Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, will join the steering committee. Laufer is the first Republican to serve on the GLASS board this year.

By Rebecca Gale Posted at 5:10 a.m.
Staffers

May 5, 2014

Democrats Pushing to Make Vaping Verboten Around Capitol Hill

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Democrats want e-cigarrettes included in rules regulating tobacco smoking around Capitol Hill. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Under current rules, nothing would stop a senator from sucking on an electronic cigarette while strolling the halls of Congress. No rules prohibit members of the House or congressional employees from puffing on the liquid nicotine devices. Tourists are also free to spend their Capitol Hill visit vaping.

While tobacco smoking is banned in public areas of the Capitol and House and Senate office buildings within 25 feet of their entrances, the prohibitions do not extend to e-cigarettes.

New Senate regulations drafted at the urging of Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., could change that in one wing of the Capitol campus. Full story

May 2, 2014

Senate Bids Fond Goodbye to Russell Subway Conductor Daryl Chappelle

chapelle 001 050114 440x287 Senate Bids Fond Goodbye to Russell Subway Conductor Daryl Chappelle

Chappelle directs a group of visitors from his driver’s seat on the Russell Senate train in the Capitol on Thursday. After 41 years of working in the Senate, he is retiring. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

For nearly two decades, Russell train conductor Daryl Chappelle has been lightening the mood of somber senators boarding the subway system that connects the chamber’s offices to the Capitol.

Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., credits Chappelle’s “legendary smile” for warming his spirits “on days when I was really down in the dumps.”

“He just always has that happy smile, wishing you well, making your day just a little bit better,” Durbin reflected on the Senate floor Thursday.

Chappelle has taken an estimated 130,000 trips between the Russell Building and the Capitol since he started driving the train in 1986. Thursday marked his final day on the job, after 41 years of service to the Capitol. Full story

By Hannah Hess Posted at 8:05 a.m.
AOC, Staffers

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