Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
October 2, 2014

Posts in "Staffers"

September 30, 2014

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

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

September 18, 2014

Hill Staffers Hear Advice for Hiring Veterans

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Sen. Lindsey Graham greets wounded soldiers from Walter Reed Army Medical Center as they arrive for a lunch in the Senate in April 2010. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Two representatives from the Wounded Warrior Project addressed a group of Capitol Hill staffers in Dirksen Senate Office Building Thursday to offer suggestions for hiring wounded veterans and accommodating those veterans in the workplace.

Brett Sheets and Brian Nichols, veterans of the Army and Navy respectively, work for WWP’s Warriors to Work program, which provides career advice to wounded post-9/11 veterans transitioning to civilian life.

The two WWP representatives offered a number of recommendations for offices looking to hire veterans. Full story

McAllister ‘Disappointed’ in Chief of Staff Arrested for DUI

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call FIle Photo)

Gregory A. Terry, chief of staff for Republican Rep. Vance McAllister was arrested in Louisiana on Sept. 12, after a police officer observed the BMW he was driving swerving across highway lines. He has been charged with driving under the influence and improper lane use.

When an officer from the Richland Parish Sheriff’s Department conducted the traffic stop, he “could smell a very strong odor commonly associated with an alcoholic beverage emitting” from Terry, according to an affidavit from the department that was published by local news station KTEV NBC 10.

Terry stated he had not been drinking, and did not drink at all, according to the document, but performed poorly on a field sobriety test. He was subsequently placed under arrest.

McAllister released a statement on the arrest to CQ Roll Call, indicating that Terry is on leave from the office.

“I’m disappointed in Adam,” stated the Louisiana Republican, who has worked to distance himself from his own extra-marital scandal that saddled him with the nickname the “Kissing Congressman.”

“I do not condone his behavior, but I know he’s a good person and he’s worked hard for the people of Louisiana,” the statement continued. “Right now, he is at home with his family in the district and we want to make sure he gets the help he needs.”

A call to Terry’s cellphone went straight to a recording that said the voicemail box was full.

Police said there was a Styrofoam cup that had “some sort of alcoholic beverage in it” in the back seat. Terry appeared to have taken off the lid and poured it on the back carpet. The liquid was cold to the touch. Two pints of Jack Daniels — one empty and one full — were also found in the vehicle.

Related:

McAllister Moving Past ‘Kissing Congressman’

Roll Call Election Map: Race Ratings for Every Seat

The 10 Most Vulnerable House Members

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September 11, 2014

Staffers, Diplomats Call for Capitol Hill to Act on Ebola Crisis

silence005 091114 440x296 Staffers, Diplomats Call for Capitol Hill to Act on Ebola Crisis

Omar Chinmoun of the Cameroon Embassy attends an event at the Senate Swamp where moments of silence were observed in remembrance of 9/11 and victims of Ebola in Africa. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Capitol Hill observed a campus-wide moment of silence at 8:46 a.m. Thursday to honor those killed in the 9/11 terror attacks.

Six hours later, a group of 25 that included diplomats from Liberia, Cameroon and staffers from the Congressional African Staff Association gathered on the East Front to bow their heads for two moments of silence. One was observed for the victims of the attacks 13 years ago; the second was for victims of the Ebola epidemic.

Senate Chaplain Barry Black and Bishop Darlingston Johnson, chairman of the African Immigrant Caucus, led the group in prayer for healing, intervention and a strengthened global response. Black asked for wisdom for the health care experts “who seek to turn tragedy into triumph,” and relief for the more than 4,200 people that the World Health Organization estimates have been infected in the epidemic.

“I’m originally from Liberia, so it touches me very personally,” Johnson told CQ Roll Call. The church he pastors there has lost 13 people, two pastors and a pastor’s wife to the disease. “It’s very important to us that whatever resources are available be mobilized to fight this thing quickly.”

Omar Arouna, Benin’s ambassador to the United States, said his small West African nation is especially worried about the crisis in neighboring Nigeria. Benin is a “transitive country,” he explained in an interview, so it is important the international response is focused on stopping the spread of the disease.

Despite the heat of the day, many participants slipped on white T-shirts over their business suits that were passed out by organizers from Believe in Africa in hopes of drawing attention to the cause.

“There has got to be a unified response to this challenge that knows no boundaries and is moving so quickly,” said Adotei Akwei, managing director of government relations for Amnesty International.

Congress has begun to take action.

A panel of the House Foreign Affairs Committee held a hearing on combating the threat on Aug. 7.

On Sept. 16, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies and the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee will hear from Kent Brantly, the doctor who contracted Ebola while doing missionary work in Liberia, along with officials from the Centers for Disease and Control Prevention and the National Institutes of Health during a joint hearing.

In the continuing resolution introduced on Tuesday, House Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers, R-Ky., included $88 million that was requested by the White House to bring drugs and personnel into West African countries.

“We’re hoping that whatever we do here can help push the process forward a little more quickly,” Johnson said, “move from just talking about it to some action.”

 

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By Hannah Hess Posted at 4:45 p.m.
Campus, Staffers

August 27, 2014

Ryan Shucard Still Negotiating With Federal Prosecutors

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Shucard hopes to return to Capitol Hill. (via Facebook)

During a Wednesday appearance in D.C. Superior Court, Capitol Hill staffer Ryan Shucard did not agree to a plea deal offered by federal prosecutors.

The press secretary for Rep. Tom Marino, R-Pa., who was arrested July 18 when Capitol Police discovered a 9mm handgun and magazine in his bag, seems to be negotiating for a better deal with the government. Defense attorney Jason Kalafat said he was still “finalizing work, trying to resolve this matter,” and asked that the case be continued.

Shucard has been charged with carrying a pistol outside the home, a felony that carries up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. In the wake of a federal court ruling that struck down the District’s ban on carrying handguns in public, U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Ronald C. Machen Jr. offered Shucard an agreement under which he would plead guilty to unlawful possession of a firearm and ammunition — two charges that each carry a maximum penalty of one year of prison and a $1,000 fine.

“We’re still negotiating, and hopefully will have it wrapped up within the next week or two,” Kalafat told CQ Roll Call.

Shucard sat solemnly next to his mother until his case was called around 11:15 a.m. He agreed to return Sept. 10, the same day Ronald Prestage, another man arrested for bringing a gun to Capitol Hill, is scheduled to be in the downtown courthouse. Shucard has indicated he wants to return to Marino’s office once the matter is settled. He remains on unpaid leave.

Related stories:

U.S. Attorney Offers Plea Deals in Capitol Hill Gun Cases

In Wake of Recent Arrests, Security Tightens at House Garages

Capitol Hill Gun Case Delayed in Wake of D.C. Ruling

Ryan Shucard Arrested for Bringing Gun to Cannon

Webb Aide Could Get 5 Years

Gun-Related Arrest Is Nothing New for Capitol Police

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

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

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August 26, 2014

U.S. Attorney Offers Plea Deals in Capitol Hill Gun Cases

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Prestage was arrested last month for allegedly carrying a firearm into the Cannon House Office Building. (Hannah Hess/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Ronald C. Machen Jr. has offered plea deals to two men who allegedly carried 9mm handguns and ammunition to Capitol Hill in July.

Both Ryan Shucard, a staffer in the office of Rep. Tom Marino, R-Pa., and pork and turkey executive Ronald Prestage face charges of carrying a pistol outside a home or business — a felony that carries up to five years in prison and $5,000 fine.

Court documents filed in both cases show that Machen has proposed an agreement under which each man would plead guilty to unlawful possession of a firearm and unlawful possession of ammunition. Each charge carries a maximum penalty of one year of prison and a $1,000 fine. Under the terms of the nearly identical deals, filed on Aug. 15, federal prosecutors would not pursue any other weapons charges, and would reserve the right to allocution, or addressing the court, at the time of sentencing. Full story

August 22, 2014

Ferguson Protests Stay Peaceful in D.C., More Planned

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Protesters wave signs during a peaceful “Day of Rage” rally outside the White House. (Hannah Hess/CQ Roll Call)

Contrary to concerns about violence or vandalism, protesters held peaceful events in Washington Thursday night in response to events in Ferguson, Mo.

What had been billed as a “Day of Rage” in front of the White House drew about two dozen people, including D.C. and St. Louis natives, and a cadre of local press. A handful of protesters sported Guy Fawkes masks often associated with Anonymous, the activist network that called for the nationwide rallies.

Close to 50 people gathered at a plaza across the street from the Columbia Heights Metro station to protest police brutality and the killing of unarmed teenager Michael Brown. A Metropolitan Police Department vehicle was parked nearby, watching the crowd chant, “No racist police!”

Though the crowd was smaller at the White House, the police presence was heavier. Three officers stood casually behind the protesters, as Code Pink’s Medea Benjamin led the group in song.

Full story

August 14, 2014

Capitol Hill Gets First Openly Transgender Staffer of 113th Congress

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New hire pushes gay-rights agenda on the Hill. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Capitol Hill is getting its sole transgender staff member, the Gay & Lesbian Victory Institute announced Thursday.

Connecticut native Ben Panico, who last year interned in the office of Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Mich., through the institute, has been appointed as a fellow for the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus. He will spend a year helping the caucus, founded in 2008, pursue an ambitious gay-rights agenda in a Congress with a record number of openly gay lawmakers. He is the first openly transgender person to hold the position.

“I first started my work at Victory as a Congressional Intern and have now risen through Victory’s programing to a Congressional Fellow,” Panico said in a statement released by the organization, which has brought more than 20 college leaders to the District since launching its internship program in 2011. The fellowship program launched in 2013.

Full story

By Hannah Hess Posted at 1:44 p.m.
Campus, Staffers

August 13, 2014

Hill Staffers Learn to Save Lives to the Tune of ‘Stayin’ Alive’

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Traverso, left, led Capitol Hill staffers through a brief, “hands-only” CPR training. (Hannah Hess/CQ Roll Call)

Striking a falsetto register, Steve Traverso belted out the chorus of The Bee Gees’ “Stayin’ Alive” on Wednesday morning in a tiny first-floor Rayburn reception room.

“Push to the beat,” Traverso instructed the 30 or so Capitol Hill staffers crouched over inflatable dummies on the ornate red carpeting. They pumped their palms into the plastic torsos, listening for the slight “click” that would indicate they were pushing hard enough to save a life.

Traverso, the community CPR manager at the American Heart Association, gave the staffers a 15-minute “hands-only” lesson on what to do when faced with a cardiac emergency. By the end of the brief session, sponsored by AHA and Anthem, Traverso aimed to make the staffers feel confident to perform the life-saving technique without any hesitation. Full story

By Hannah Hess Posted at 5:36 p.m.
Campus, Staffers

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