Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 27, 2015

Posts by Hannah Hess

10 Posts

January 22, 2015

Senator on ‘#DeflateGate': Send Colts to Super Bowl

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Dan Coats tweeted Thursday that the Indiana Colts, not the New England Patriots, should play in the Super Bowl, as the National Football League controversy surrounding the use of under-inflated game balls in Sunday’s AFC Championship continued to unfold.

Taking to Twitter, the Hoosier State Republican proposed that Patriots’ head coach Bill Belichick should be suspended, and Tom Brady should be benched. Anything short of this, Coats then tweeted, and Hoosiers “file suit” and ask Supreme Court Chief Justice Roberts, an Indiana native, to take up the case “immediately.”

Asked about so-called deflate-gate outside the Senate chamber, Coats walked it back.”Obviously, I was a little over the top,” he said of the tweets. But Coats echoed calls from Nevada’s senators for action from the NFL.

“I think the league should thoroughly investigate this, because there have been other accusations relative to the Patriots before,” Coats said. “Let’s put it to bed. I’m sure the Patriots would want to put it to bed also.”


Nevada Senators Blast NFL Over Under-Inflated Footballs

The 114th: CQ Roll Call’s Guide to the New Congress

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By Hannah Hess Posted at 6:11 p.m.

January 7, 2015

Former Sergeant-at-Arms Drew Willison in Line for Reid Chief of Staff

Willison joined Reid's staff in 1997. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Willison joined Reid in 1997 and spent 10 years on his staff. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Former Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Drew Willison is in line to replace David Krone as chief of staff for Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, but Krone told staffers in a memo Wednesday that he’s staying put for now.

The expected staff shift in the Nevada Democrat’s office, first reported by Politico, was confirmed to CQ Roll Call by a source familiar with the plan to place Willison — who spent more than a decade working for Reid on energy and environment projects — at the helm.

Krone also confirmed in the memo that he has discussed with Reid the possibility of managing Reid’s 2016 re-election campaign and Willison taking over.

“Notwithstanding this article and all of the rumors, I will continue in my role and am not departing,” stated Krone, who has worked for Reid for six years.

“Of course, with Senator Reid up for re-election, he and I have had many discussions about his campaign and who may manage it. He and I have discussed me taking over this role and possibly Drew Willison replacing me as chief-of-staff; however, we have not finalized anything in this area,” he continued, promising staff would be informed of any changes.

Willison is a longtime creature of Capitol Hill, with a policy-heavy résumé that is unique among the sergeants-at-arms of the post-9/11 era. When he was appointed to the post in spring 2014, a Reid spokesman said the job required an “element of diplomacy” to handle the unique needs of the 100 senators, and that Willison was extremely qualified.

Willison joined Reid’s staff in 1997 to assist the Nevada Democrat’s work on the Environment and Public Works Committee and eventually earned a spot as staff director for the Appropriations Energy-Water Subcommittee. When Reid became majority leader in 2007, he appointed Terrance W. Gainer to be the chamber’s chief law enforcement officer and invited Willison to join Gainer as deputy.

During their tenure, Gainer gravitated towards security matters, while Willison honed in on the day-to-day operations for the team of more than 800 full-time employees and 200 contractors that operates on a budget of about $200 million. The administrative role was a natural fit for Willison, who once dreamed of becoming a city manager and holds a master’s degree in public administration from Ohio State University.

Willison briefly left the Hill during the 112th Congress to go to work for Battelle, a nonprofit that operates national laboratories for the Department of Energy, but he told CQ Roll Call in an April 2014 interview that he “missed the Hill.” When Reid asked Willison to come back after the deputy that took his place retired, he agreed. Gainer hand-picked Willison to replace him when he retired.

Prior to his 15 years in the Senate, Willison served stints at NASA and the Environmental Protection Agency. In the spring interview, Willison claimed a genuine love for the Hill. “If this is the work you enjoy, this is where you want to be,” Willison said.

Niels Lesniewski contributed to this report.


Drew Willison, Senate Sergeant-at-Arms With a City Manager’s Touch

The 114th: CQ Roll Call’s Guide to the New Congress

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By Hannah Hess Posted at 3:39 p.m.
Harry Reid

March 21, 2014

Senate’s Top Law Enforcement Officer Confirms Progress on Investigation Into CIA Spying

Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Terrance W. Gainer said Friday that his staff has “absolutely” begun investigating the controversy involving the CIA and the Intelligence Committee.

The investigation — disclosed by Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., in a letter sent to CIA Director John O. Brennan late Wednesday — will be one of Gainer’s last tasks before he leaves Capitol Hill for the private sector at the end of April.

Gainer confirmed during a phone interview with CQ Roll Call that his office is proceeding with instructions to review computers used by committee staffers to investigate the CIA’s interrogation techniques and detainee practices during the George W. Bush administration.

“Some of it will be done in-house and some of it will be contracted out,” he said of the investigation. “It’s not the first time that we’ve done forensic work on a computer, remember … that’s a large part of our organization.”

As sergeant-at-arms, Gainer serves as the chamber’s top law enforcement officer, overseeing all aspects of security, including cyber threats.

“But, there are experts who do this day-in and day-out, and there is no doubt that we’ll get help from others on this,” he continued.

Intelligence Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., first revealed her suspicions in a stirring March 11 floor speech, in which she alleged the CIA had interfered at the secret facility set up in Northern Virginia for the committee’s investigation.

Reid has also raised concerns about the broader implications of the CIA’s actions, a fact he mentioned in his letter.

Gainer said he spends a “substantial portion” of each day on security issues — coordinating with the House, the Capitol Police and other federal agencies — and this investigation is his newest task.

March 20, 2014

Sergeant-at-Arms Terrance Gainer to Leave the Hill


(Bill Clark/Roll Call File Photo)

After more than a decade of service on Capitol Hill, the Senate’s top law enforcement officer is stepping down.

Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Terrance W. Gainer will depart this spring, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid  announced Thursday afternoon. The Nevada Democrat appointed Gainer in late 2006. He previously served as chief of the Capitol Police, a post he’d held since 2002. Gainer is the only person ever to have held both jobs.

“Terry has spent 47 years of his life dedicated to law enforcement at the federal, state, and city level and throughout his years of military service,” Reid said in a statement on the Illinois native who served in Vietnam and spent the early years of his law enforcement career with the Chicago Police Department.

“I know he looks forward to spending more time with his wife, Irene, their six children, and 14 grandchildren, and also to pursuing private sector opportunities,” Reid continued. “Terry is one of the finest public servants I have ever met and I am grateful for all he has done for our community.”

Gainer’s seven year tenure make him the longest-serving sergeant-at-arms since World War II. He previously served on the Illinois State Police and the U.S. Department of Transportation. Gainer was also second in command of D.C.’s Metropolitan Police Department.

The longtime public servant did not immediately respond to inquiries from CQ Roll Call about his future ambitions.

In the statement announcing his departure, Gainer said “serving the Senate family and the Capitol community has been a rare privilege” and noted that the SAA organization “continues to exceed expectations.”

Replacing Gainer will be his deputy of seven years, Drew Willison, who previously served as a senior staffer on the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Former Secret Service Assistant Director Michael Stenger will be appointed as the next deputy sergeant-at-arms. He has been with the office since 2011.

By Hannah Hess Posted at 4:33 p.m.
Harry Reid

Reid Features in Gray Campaign Mailer Reminding Voters ‘Who Stood Up for Us’

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid plays a starring role in a campaign mailer arriving in District of Columbia mailboxes.

A snapshot of the Nevada Democrat standing shoulder to shoulder with Mayor Vincent Gray graces a flyer encouraging D.C. voters to give the mayor another four years at the helm of the city. It captures the tight-lipped scowl that appeared on Reid’s face when Gray crashed an Oct. 9 press conference that Senate Democrats were holding on the Capitol steps in the midst of this fall’s federal government shutdown.


A snapshot of the mailer.

The mailer, paid for by Vince Gray 2014, tells voters to “remember who stood up for us” when they cast their ballots in the April 1 Democratic primary. Full story

December 31, 2013

Loskarn Indictment Delayed, Plea Bargain Possible

Faced with a January 2014 deadline to obtain a grand jury indictment on child pornography charges, the government and lawyers for Jesse Ryan Loskarn, the fired chief of staff for Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., have agreed to a 30-day delay.

Federal Magistrate Judge John M. Facciola approved the postponement, requested because of the holiday season and the fact that “much of the forensic work has not yet been completed,” according to court documents. The deadline to bring an indictment on charges of possession and distribution was moved to Feb. 10.

The motion for extension also suggests the parties to the high-profile suit are pursuing a plea bargain. They “intend to explore the possibility of a pre-indictment disposition,” the motion states. Full story

By Hannah Hess Posted at 11:48 a.m.

December 11, 2013

Alexander Chief of Staff Arrested Amid Child Porn Allegations (Video)

(CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 5:18 p.m. | Federal law enforcement agents escorted Sen. Lamar Alexander’s D.C.-based chief of staff from his Southeast Washington home in handcuffs on Wednesday.

Agents arrested Ryan Loskarn “based on probable cause for possession and distribution of child pornography charges,” Department of Justice spokesman Peter Carr said in an email. As of early evening, Loskarn remained in federal custody with a court hearing expected to be scheduled for Thursday at the federal courthouse in Washington, D.C. Full story

October 10, 2013

Ohio Clock Furloughed

The Senate’s stately Ohio clock has fallen victim to the federal shutdown.

Its hands froze in place at 12:14 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon and won’t be ticking again until the furloughed Capitol Hill workforce is allowed to return to the job.

Journalists take photos of the Ohio Clock shortly after midnight on Oct. 1, the beginning of the shutdown. The clock has not been wound, due to the shutdown, as the winders have been furloughed. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call.)

Journalists take photos of the Ohio Clock shortly after midnight on Oct. 1, the beginning of the shutdown. The clock has not been wound, thanks to the shutdown, as the winders have been furloughed. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call.)

Winding of the richly grained mahogany timepiece, which has stood in the main corridor just outside the Senate chamber since 1859, falls to a team in the Office of the Senate Curator. That staff has been furloughed, the office of the Secretary of the Senate confirmed. Full story

By Hannah Hess Posted at 2:04 p.m.

October 5, 2013

Members Just ‘Showing Off’ by Not Furloughing Staff, Says Reid

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid knocked fellow members of Congress for “showing off” with their individual decisions not to furlough their staffers during the federal government shutdown.

“Some members of Congress are showing off, ‘I’m not closing my office,’” Reid said on the Senate floor Saturday, referring to the staff furlough decisions left up to each member since the Oct. 1 shutdown.

Reid has told much of his staff to stay home. “I’ve closed my office because [I] don’t think my employees should be treated any different than someone that’s working for the Bureau of Land Management or the FBI,” he said. “They’re closed.” Full story

October 3, 2013

Female Suspect Killed in Capitol Incident, Injured Officer Airlifted (Updated)

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Updated Oct. 4, 10:51 a.m. | A female suspect was killed by police after a car chase from the White House to the Capitol, law enforcement officials confirmed Thursday evening.

A Capitol Police officer was injured in a crash with the suspect’s car and airlifted to an area hospital. Bryan Carter, a 23-year veteran of force, was treated and released from MedStarWashington Hospital Center, by 9:30 p.m. Thursday. A Secret Service agent was also injured, officials reported, but no details on that agent’s condition were given.

A child who was in the suspect’s car was not harmed, but was taken to the hospital, officials said at a news conference Thursday evening. The one-year-old female child rescued from the suspect’s vehicle by a Capitol Police officer sustained no injuries. She was examined, then released from a local hospital and placed in protective custody.

A car chase that started at the White House and ended on Capitol Hill in front of the Hart Senate Office building with Capitol Hill police exchanging gun fire. Here Police evacuate a small child that was in one of the cars involved in the high speed chase into the Hart building to the medical facility on Thursday, Oct. 3, 2013. (Photo By Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call)

A car chase that started at the White House ended on Capitol Hill in front of the Hart Senate Office building with Capitol Hill police discharging their guns. Here police evacuate a small child who was in one of the cars involved in the high speed chase into the Hart building to the medical facility. (Photo By Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call)

Four road closures remained in effect overnight as the investigation continued on the northern side of Capitol Hill. Roads were reopened in time for morning traffic.

The Metropolitan Police Department is leading the effort, with support from the Capitol Police, Secret Service, and the FBI.

“Based on preliminary findings, this was an isolated incident with no nexus to terrorism,” the Capitol Police said in a Thursday night statement. “The response to this incident was swift and our established security procedures worked. We would like to commend the men and women from the [Capitol Police] for their bravery.”

Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy Lanier told reporters that shots were fired at two separate locations outside the Capitol Thursday, as police attempted to stop the woman, who Lanier said tried to breach security at both the White House and on the Capitol grounds. Police officers fired on the suspect’s car near Garfield Circle, but the fatal shots appear to have been delivered when after the car crashed on the 100 block of Maryland Avenue NE. The car chase started at 15th and E streets outside the White House, Lanier confirmed.

Lanier said it was important to note that security measures at both the White House and the Capitol “worked.” Amid questions about whether the suspect’s actions were accidental in nature, Lanier said she couldn’t say for certain but was “pretty confident this is not an accident.”

Law enforcement officials declined to give any details about the suspect’s identity, and Lanier noted they were still investigating the incident and would have to notify the woman’s next of kin before releasing her name. Some news outlets reported that the car the woman was driving had Connecticut license plates.

Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Terrance Gainer earlier confirmed that the Capitol Police officer did not appear to have life-threatening injuries. The D.C. Metropolitan Police Department has the lead on the investigation, in cooperation with the Capitol Police, the Secret Service and the Park Police.

Gainer told CQ Roll Call that “the woman did have a child in the car. Child was not injured. I don’t know the age. The child has been taken to a local hospital.”

Gainer said there is no profile on the female suspect yet.

“The great news is, it’s not terrorism-related and what caused the woman to do whatever she did down at the White House, I’m not sure. Why the Secret Service ultimately chased her, I mean they were trying to make an arrest and she circled the Peace and Garfield Circles a couple times, and then headed up Constitution. That’s east-bound on Constitution where ultimately there was shots fired from … we’re trying to figure that out, but the Capitol Police, uniformed Secret Service. She was hit. She’s been taken to the hospital,” Gainer said.

Asked if there was any evidence the woman was trying to get into the Capitol, Gainer said, “I don’t know that. She couldn’t get into the Capitol because there’s barricades up.”

The Capitol officer who was injured crashed into a barricade while joining the pursuit.

“On something like this, we begin the lockdown, determine what’s going on, pop the barriers. We gave directions to pop the barriers. The officers down there kept the barriers down for some period of time to let the cars through,” Gainer said.

The injured Capitol Police officer was coming from the north on Louisiana Avenue, Gainer said, and made a left-hand turn to go east on Constitution Avenue. “Just as he came around the corner the barrier was popped,” Gainer said. “All that stuff happens very quick.”

U.S. Capitol Police inspect a police car after a shooting and subsequent police car crash on Constitution Avenue and 1st. Street, NW. The officer was injured in the car crash. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

U.S. Capitol Police inspect a police car after a shooting and subsequent police car crash on Constitution Avenue and 1st. Street, NW. The officer was injured in the car crash. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The officer’s car clipped the barricade and sustained a lot of damage, Gainer said.

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