Karen Kraushaar speaks. You can’t hear it.

Al Kamen
Columnist June 11, 2012

How does a federal worker keep his or her agency out of the news? One sure-fire way is to simply not do anything newsworthy.

Too late on that front for Karen Kraushaar, the spokeswoman for the Treasury Department’s inspector general, who accused Herman Cain of sexual harassment when both of them were working at the National Restaurant Association.

Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993. View Archive

So when Kraushaar was the keynote speaker at a conference for federal communications officials on Friday, where she delivered a talk titled “Keeping Your Agency Out of the Story: Telling a Story No One Wants Told (but Everyone Wants to Hear),” her strategy was simpler: just keep it off the record.

Even though the rest of the conference, held by the National Association for Government Communicators, was open to the news media (though the rest of the panels and talks sounded way less interesting), we were informed when we showed up that Kraushaar’s remarks would be strictly not-for-publication.

Too bad, since we would have loved to hear the promised “lessons [Kraushaar] and her staff learned when a private story suddenly became public.” Kraushaar famously took a turn in the spotlight last year when the Daily revealed that she had accused Cain, then a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, of sexual harassment in the 1990s. Once her name was revealed, she told The Washington Post she wanted to hold a news conference with several other women who had made similar claims against Cain.


Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) is looking for an ‘Agriculture Legislative Assistant.’ (Bill Clark/CQ ROLL CALL PHOTOS)

Which, presumably would have been on the record. Anyway, the rest of the story is well known: Cain eventually dropped out of the race in the face of the mounting accusations.

We caught up with Kraushaar before she talked on Friday, and she told us that her remarks were for the audience of federal workers only.

Husbandry and such

In Washington, jobs on Capitol Hill can require credentials beyond those directly related to the work itself.

Take this recent want ad from the office of Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), who’s looking for an “Agriculture Legislative Assistant.”

“Qualified candidates will be committed, pro-life conservatives with strong writing skills,” the job posting begins, and “a firm understanding of agriculture issues and policy, and substantive experience working in agriculture.”

While not as important as being a committed pro-life conservative, the ad notes that “Iowa ties are a plus.”

So send a résumé and cover letter if you’re interested. The job is still open, we were told Monday.

It’s just another word

When last we checked in with the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, it had miraculously figured out how four votes is greater than five. Now the commission is being sued in federal court for discriminating against Muslims, our colleague Michelle Boorstein reports.

The lawsuit alleges the nine-member commission reneged on hiring a Muslim lawyer in 2009 once they learned of her faith and her work advocating for American Muslims. (None of the current members were on the commission at the time.)

The lawsuit says USCIRF staff encouraged Safiya Ghori-Ahmad, who worked briefly at the commission, to call in sick on the days that particular commissioners were in the office, to “downplay her religious affiliation” and to emphasize that she is a “mainstream and ‘moderate’ Muslim” who doesn’t cover her hair.

Aponte again

It seems the long-stalled nomination of Mari Carmen Aponte as ambassador to El Salvador could be moving again.

We hear Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid might schedule a vote as early as this week. Aponte’s nomination fell through the last time the Senate voted on it late last year, when supporters didn’t have enough votes to overcome a Republican filibuster.

Another go at the nomination could throw Sen. Marco Rubio back into the spotlight. The Florida Republican initially voted against breaking the filibuster — but later agreed to back Aponte and to round up the GOP votes needed to clear her nomination. Talks between Rubio and Democrats ended in bitter recriminations but no vote.

We hear that Rubio is expected to vote for Aponte this time, but he won’t be whipping votes among colleagues again.

Two questions: Will the second time be the charm? And is it a coincidence that President Obama will be in Orlando next week — where he could either tout the success of a Puerto Rican-born ambassador or blast Republicans for blocking one?

With Emily Heil

The blog: washingtonpost.com/intheloop. Twitter: @Inthe LoopWP.

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