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Correction to This Article
The March 21 In the Loop column incorrectly identified Rep. James P. Moran Jr. of Virginia as a Republican. He is a Democrat.
In the Loop

Hush-Hush on NIH Connections

By Al Kamen
Monday, March 21, 2005; Page A17

Research America, which raises serious bucks for scientific research and does surveys that show Americans want more research on more diseases and are willing to spend whatever it takes, had its annual, black-tie fundraising gala last week at the Willard InterContinental Hotel.

During the evening program, emceed by ABC News's Sam Donaldson, various speakers introduced dignitaries and thanked folks. So former Illinois representative John Edward Porter (R), ex-chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee on labor, health and human services, was onstage, noting the presence of such folks as former Pennsylvania representative James C. Greenwood, president of the Biotechnology Industry Organization, and Mark McLellan, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Anthony S. Fauci's position at NIH was not named. (File Photo)

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But when he acknowledged Anthony S. Fauci, there was no mention that Fauci heads the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Then he referred to Allen Spiegel but did not note that he heads the National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Diseases. And when he came to Donald A.B. Lindberg, there was no mention that he heads the National Library of Medicine at NIH.

Porter said he could say no more because, according to the NIH ethics office, federal rules do not allow the NIH scientists to have their affiliation named at a fundraiser unless it is an un-emphasized item among many, say in a mini-bio. (The National Institutes of Health, roiled of late by controversy over some scientists doing improper consulting on the side, is especially sensitive these days to ethical matters.) Turns out the NIH folks had to get special permission -- called a WAG (Widely Attended Gathering) -- to attend, our colleague Rick Weiss was told, because there was a free meal involved. There was a rare "blanket WAG," one source said, because so many NIH people wanted to go.

Yet the program lists Andrew von Eschenbach as director of the National Cancer Institute and Julie L. Gerberding as head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Turns out they are presidential appointees and thus not subject to ethics rules -- well, at least not these.

No Bids for Moran?

We prepared a special Loop Alert on Friday for readers who wanted to have lunch with Rep. James P. Moran Jr. (R-Va.). Their dreams could come true on eBay, where a seller was offering a "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to have a sit-down, face-to-face lunch with a congressman" who has introduced many historic bills.

The lunch with Moran was selling for a minimum bid of only $125. The bidding was to close on Wednesday.

But then the site was taken down. Unclear why. Perhaps word had gotten out and someone objected? Or perhaps it was because, after a couple of days, no one had bid?

Norquist's Fancy Footwork

It's hard work cutting off Democrats' heads and hoisting them on pikes. Sure, tax cutter and activist extraordinaire Grover Norquist makes it look easy -- which, let's face it, it actually may be these days. But even Norquist apparently needs a little personal pampering at times.

Maybe that's why the head of Americans for Tax Reform and his fiancee, Samah Alrayyes, who are tying the knot next week, have on their Macy's wedding gift registry a very snappy HoMedics JetSpa Ultra.

"Treat your feet to a massage from ten invigorating trademarked power jets and spinning pedicure center," the ad blurb says. The foot bath features "three pedicure attachments with integrated storage compartment in hood. Soothing infrared heat and quiet design for total relaxation."

Most important, this little beauty has "easy toe-touch controls" so you don't have to bend to adjust -- perfect for folks with aching backs. It's only $75. Alas, the request has been filled, so we'll look for something else.

Betcha tax traitor Gov. Mitchell E. Daniels Jr. (R-Ind.), who recently mocked Norquist in a dig about "Sesame Street's" fuzzy blue Grover -- lifted directly from tax-raising Ohio Gov. Bob Taft's shot -- doesn't have one of those.

Transportation Board Traffic

It's down to nail biting at the NCAA basketball tourney, and for fans of the National Transportation Safety Board. In the coming week, either the White House has to renominate chairman Ellen Engleman Conners or she has to step down.

The vice chairman, Mark Rosenker, could take over, but only for a week, when his appointment ends, although the White House could reappoint him and make him acting chairman.

Conners could stay on as a member, but that's never happened at the NTSB, we're told, because of the obvious awkwardness. There would be the question of whether she'd have to move out of the lovely suite and such.

To Romania With Loot

More chatter on major GOP donor Julie Finley's possible career move. It's an ambassadorship in Romania, not Poland, that folks are talking about. We'll see whether that works out. We failed in our efforts in the first term to get her the Warsaw posting.

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