Ambramoff may get to the City of Light

Correction: An earlier version of this column incorrectly said that House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) and Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.) traveled to Canada recently. That trip was canceled. This verison has been corrected.

Al Kamen
Columnist May 3, 2012

Jack Abramoff might be trading his signature fedora for a tres chic beret.

The lobbyist-turned-felon-turned-author recently petitioned the court for permission to make a jaunt to Paris to sell some books — though we can only assume he might find time to stroll Luxembourg Gardens or have a coffee at Les Deux Magots. Seems Abramoff’s book, “Capitol Punishment” has fans in the City of Light. He’s been asked to give speeches in Europe and also hopes to “possibly arrange the sale of the European distribution rights to his book,” according to the court filing that our research diva Alice Crites uncovered.

Sadly, unlike the rest of us, Abramoff can’t simply hop on a jet — he’s under probation that prevents him from leaving the area. And to make his case, he notes that he’ll need to do business on the continent if he ever wants to repay the massive restitution he owes.

Last we checked, Abramoff owed more than $22 million to the victims of the fraud and conspiracy he perpetrated as a highflying lobbyist.

The court cleared the way for Abramoff’s overseas adventures, modifying the terms of his probation to allow him to travel internationally, so long as his probation officer approves.

Might we suggest that he tempt said officer with some macaroons from Fauchon in exchange for the go-ahead?

Ah, Jacques, bon voyage!

Travel log

Can’t find your senators or House representatives this week? Could be they’ve gone out of the country over the recent recess, looking for those elusive facts overseas.

In these days of exceptional congressional outrage over the General Services Administration’s lavish spending in Vegas, we’re in what might be called “heightened scrutiny” mode on congressional travel — looking for those hideously expensive trips with spouses on military jets to places like China or the Galapagos.

We’ve been able to find six overseas trips by 14 lawmakers in the past week or so.

Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) led the largest group — five senators and spouses — on a 10-day trip to Africa.

The delegation, which included Sens. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Kent Conrad (D-S.D.) and Tom Udall (D-Colo.), traveled by miljet to Namibia, Malawi, South Africa, Botswana, Morocco and Cote d’Ivoire, looking over U.S. funding for child labor and global health programs. We understand that Harkin was able to break away for a little game drive (on his own dime) and that perhaps a couple of others also took just a moment or two to commune with the lions and elephants and giraffes.

The chairman and ranking minority members of the Senate and House intelligence committees — Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) and Reps. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) and Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.) have just returned from Afghanistan.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) was off solo on a part-commercial, part-miljet trip to Lithuania, Jordan and Lebanon. Retiring Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) went solo to Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Israel — he was in the Holy Land on a personal trip last month — meeting with leaders there and talking to Syrian refugees.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-Mass.), with a few staffers, flew commercial to the Middle East and then took miljets “in theater,” as they say, for safety. He stopped in Afghanistan, Israel, Jordan and Egypt.

String theory

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar is under fire from a source very close to him. We’re talking not about his inner circle of advisers or political allies, but rather . . . his bolo tie.

Salazar’s Western neckwear has been expressing its frustration with its owner, who it feels has grown distant of late, on its Twitter feed, @kensbolo (described in its bio as “a stylish, jetsetting accessory on exciting adventures within the federal government. Oh yes.”).

The tie, apparently, thinks Salazar has grown fonder of traditional neckties of late. And in fact, we’ve noticed that Salazar has been neglecting the string tie that he so famously sported throughout his Senate career and even during his appointment ceremony with President Obama.

“I’ve gotten so little attention from Kenny lately, I’m considering hitting the road. I’ll sprout some fibers, soak myself in gin,” it tweeted last month. Another plaintive missive went simply: “Cruel loneliness.”

The tie has gotten some sympathy from another Twitter account, @JonsMoustache (purporting to be the facial hair of National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis). “Well I care about you too, @KensBolo . . . I suggest enjoying the great outdoors it’s #NationalParkWeek leave Kenny behind and enjoy the parks!”

And the fashion blogger who pens Capitol Hill Style weighed in, too, tweeting that perhaps Salazar had “gone Washington” and traded in his beloved bolo for more typical Beltway fare.

When In the Loop asked an Interior Department spokesman for comment about just where Salazar stands on the bolo-tie issue, we got this response, via Twitter, which should give the poor neglected Western cravat some hope:

“Not to fear @kensbolo, Sec. Salazar still believes in high fashion, bolos included.”

With Emily Heil

The blog: washingtonpost.com/
intheloop. Twitter: @InTheLoopWP.

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