Boehner and the Bunker Mentality

By Mary Ann Akers And Paul Kane
Thursday, August 7, 2008

As his troops forsake their August recess this week to raise Cain over gas prices, their No. 1 campaign issue, House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) has been home tending to his golf game and his fundraising.

Every day this week, rank-and-file Republicans have staged "shadow session" protests on the House floor over the Democrats' decision to adjourn Congress on Aug. 1 for a five-week recess without passing energy legislation. Officially, according to his office, Boehner is back in Ohio raising money for his political action committee, the Freedom Project.

But Boehner also found time to squeeze in a couple of rounds of golf. Boehner, a 7.6 handicap, reported to a U.S. Golf Association Web site that he shot an 85 at his home course, Wetherington Golf & Country Club in West Chester, Ohio. It is unclear based on the site exactly when the round was played. Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said he was confident that the congressman played "over the weekend" -- and not during the energy protests on the House floor.

Boehner was also spotted Tuesday at the lovely Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio, which was designed by Jack Nicklaus and is home to the Golden Bear's Memorial tournament, a mainstay of the PGA Tour. Boehner was there for an annual Freedom Project fundraiser and golf tournament. "Canceling it would have cost tens of thousands of dollars for Republican candidates across the country," Steel told's Ben Pershing, who first reported Boehner's golf activities on the Capitol Briefing blog.

While we don't know what Boehner shot on the Nicklaus course, Steel said the congressman has generally cut down on golf this year because of back trouble. The stats bear that out, as Boehner's scores, assuming he reports them all, show that he played just twice this year before this week.

He's expected back in the Capitol tomorrow for what may be the final day of the House floor protests by the Republicans.

Down-Ticket Celebrity Attack

If John McCain is wondering whether attacking celebrity is a good tactic, he might want to take note of what happened to the Republican running for the open seat in New Mexico's 1st Congressional District when he literally got tough with a big name.

The GOP candidate, Bernalillo County Sheriff Darren P. White, is being sued by auto-racing legend Al Unser Sr. The four-time Indianapolis 500 winner says that White's deputies unduly roughed him up during an arrest two years ago after he was pulled over on -- of all streets -- Unser Boulevard. A jury acquitted Unser two years ago, but his new civil lawsuit alleges that White and his deputies used excessive force and violated his civil rights.

The bad luck doesn't stop there for White, 45, who faces Democrat Martin Heinrich in November in the open race to succeed Rep. Heather A. Wilson (R-N.M.), who's running for the Senate.

White was hospitalized last week after he injured his back while working out -- the same part of his back that he hurt on a motorcycle in 1991 and again on a bicycle in 1998.

White campaign spokesman Stephen Schatz tells us he hopes the bad luck is a thing of the past: "Every day it's a new day, and with every new day there's a new opportunity."

Election Roundup

Just days before the start of the Beijing Olympics, former Olympian Jim Ryun once again received a silver medal. Ryun, the former congressman who placed second in the 1,500 meters at the 1968 Olympics, lost his bid for the GOP nomination Tuesday to Kansas's state treasurer, Lynn Jenkins. Jenkins now faces freshman Rep. Nancy Boyda (D-Kan.) in the general election.

In other primary news, Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick (D-Mich.) eked out a narrow victory in her primary challenge, which served as a referendum on the indictment of her son, Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. And today, all eyes are on Memphis, where freshman Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) is battling lawyer Nikki Tinker. Cohen is the only white House member representing a district that has a majority of black voters, providing for a racial undercurrent to the final days of the campaign.

Cohen, who recently introduced a resolution apologizing to black voters for Jim Crow laws, is trying to defeat Tinker, an African American, for the second straight election cycle.

For those who can't get enough of him, you won't have Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho) to kick around at the Republican National Convention in Minnesota.

Heading out the Senate door last week, Craig told On the Hill that he will not be returning to the scene of the crime he pleaded guilty to one year ago this week.

"Goin' fishing," Craig said.

Sadly, this means there won't be a single member of the Singing Senators, the old senatorial barbershop quartet, on hand at the convention as an incumbent. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) has retired to be a lobbyist, John Ashcroft (R-Mo.) lost his 2000 election and retired as attorney general in 2004, and Jim Jeffords (I-Vt.) famously switched parties and then retired in 2006.

The big national debut for the Singing Senators came at the 1996 convention in San Diego. "That was the first one I ever attended," said Craig, who said he attended one other GOP convention.

Craig, who is retiring, has appealed his case to the Minnesota Court of Appeals, seeking to revoke his guilty plea from the June 2007 arrest in the undercover sting in a men's restroom at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

The convention begins Sept. 1, the one-year anniversary of when Craig publicly declared his "intention" to resign -- a pledge he took back weeks later.

Here's a rundown of convention plans for other lawmakers having a bit of trouble with the law:

· Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska): No go. A spokesman for Stevens, 84, indicted last week for allegedly receiving more than $250,000 in unreported gifts, told the Associated Press that he will be campaigning for reelection rather than flying to the Twin Cities.

· Rep. William J. Jefferson (D-La.): All in. A spokeswoman said Jefferson, indicted for allegedly receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars in exchange for helping businesses looking for trade deals in Africa, will be on hand for the Democratic National Convention in Denver. The aide said the convention is "on his agenda."

· Rep. Rick Renzi (R-Ariz.): Undeclared. Aides did not return phone calls or e-mails seeking comment about the lawmaker's plans. He's been indicted for allegedly performing official favors that benefited his family business in a federal land-swap deal.

· Rep. John T. Doolittle (R-Calif.): Undecided. An aide to Doolittle said the retiring lawmaker has until Aug. 15 to let the California Republican Party know whether he will be on hand in St. Paul. Doolittle has not been charged with a crime, but the FBI raided his home last year in connection with the ongoing federal probe into imprisoned lobbyist Jack Abramoff's dealings on Capitol Hill.

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