The Washington Post

In the Loop: Cory Booker (D-Tinseltown)


Cory Booker addresses the 2012 Democratic National Convention. (Jonathan Newton/THE WASHINGTON POST)

Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) is a Hollywood favorite, and he’s rumored to be romantically involved with a Los Angeles-based lawyer, so we’d expect he frequents the other coast.

On Thursday, he returns to the City of Angels for a starring role at a fundraiser at a Hollywood boutique hotel. The next day he’ll be at a happy hour at a nightclub in San Francisco.

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

A quick perusal of the Booker campaign’s 665-page Federal Election Commission campaign finance report shows almost $3,000 in charges for stays at seven hotels in the Los Angeles and San Francisco areas in the first quarter of 2014. The campaign also spent $400 at Izzy’s Brooklyn Bagels in Palo Alto (you can take the guy out of the Northeast, but you can’t take the Northeast out of the guy).

Booker’s campaign told the Loop the hotel stays were for the politician and his staff over one February trip that included several stops. On that trip, we know Booker attended a fundraiser at the Beverly Hills home of Linda and Bob Gersh, who run a talent agency that’s been the family business for more than 60 years. The couple also hosted Booker in July 2013.

The entertainment industry ranks fourth among the industries that donated to Booker last year, according to OpenSecrets.org. With a hat tip to the Sunlight Foundation’s Party Time database, here are other documented fundraisers held for Booker in the Golden State:

●In September 2013, just before the special election to fill the late Frank Lautenberg’s Senate seat, Booker was in San Francisco raising money before bopping down to Los Angeles a few days later for a star-studded fundraiser hosted by Matt Damon, Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner at the home of billionaire Ron Burkle.

●In April 2013, film producer Jerry Weintraub hosted Booker at his Beverly Hills home, where director Steven Spielberg was among the industry guests. The next day, Booker went to San Francisco for a reception at a law firm.

●In March 2013, Booker was in San Francisco for another campaign fundraiser at the home of an investment banker.

Booker, a celebrity in his own right, began the year with a nice three-month fundraising take for his reelection campaign. He raised a dollar, more or less, for each of his Twitter followers — nearly $1.5 million.

Wolves of late night

In December, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell visited a South Carolina national refuge, one that has experienced a measurable rise in sea level, to discuss climate change and federal funding for land conservation. The people there were so happy to have her visit that five months later they found a special way to thank her.

A rare red wolf pup born at the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge several weeks ago has been named Jewell.

“After she came to Cape Romain last year, and spoke to us, we are all pretty much in agreement that she is our favorite Secretary of Interior,” a project leader at the refuge wrote in an e-mail to the Interior Department press secretary. The Washington Post covered the visit as part of a profile of Jewell, noting that she was “self-deprecating, amusing and blunt as she spoke off-the-cuff and answered questions from her sympathetic audience.”

Two of the surviving four pups born April 8 will remain at the refuge, including Jewell. Two others will be sent to live at Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge in North Carolina. The one staying to grow up with sister Jewell is named Colbert, after none other than television host Stephen Colbert, a South Carolina native.

“We like him, he is a Lowcountry person, and we thought that was a good name for our wolf,” said Raye Nilius, a Fish and Wildlife Service project leader at the refuge.

Colbert does not take over for David Letterman as the “Late Show” host until sometime in 2015. Which leaves plenty of time for Colbert to have Jewell on his Comedy Central show — an episode that should, we think, include a visit to their namesakes.

Rep. Wheelwell called it

A bipartisan aviation security bill that passed with little fanfare in the House in December would require the creation of an advisory committee within the Transportation Security Administration that, among other issues, would have a working group dedicated to airport perimeter security.

It’s an issue that reemerged this week when a 15-year-old hopped a fence around the San Jose airport and hitched a ride to Hawaii in the wheel well of a jet. Naturally, the focus is largely on how the teenager survived the five-hour voyage over the Pacific Ocean, but it also is a bit alarming that it’s so simple to sneak onto a tarmac.

The truth-is-crazier-than-fiction event took place next door to the Bay Area district of Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), an original co-sponsor of the bill. With the legislation unmoved in the Senate, Swalwell sent a letter to the Government Accountability Office asking the watchdog agency to audit perimeter security at U.S. airports.

Three members of the House Homeland Security Committee had made that request to the GAO in February. With their permission, Swalwell copied and pasted their letter and resubmitted it, asking to be added as a “co-requester.” The lawmakers want the GAO to update a 2009 report on perimeter security and review “recent high-profile breaches and any policy changes put in place since 2009 to bolster perimeter security.”

“It’s pretty clear we’re not doing enough. . . . It shouldn’t be that easy to cross a perimeter,” Swalwell told the Loop.

There are not enough resources to make billions of dollars in upgrades to all the nation’s airports, Swalwell acknowledges, and airports are massive spaces the size of small towns. The aim would be to assess vulnerabilities and begin making investments where they’re needed most.

“I think my job is to balance the threat against the resources we have,” he said.

— With Colby Itkowitz

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

Colby Itkowitz is the lead anchor of the Inspired Life blog. She previously covered the quirks of national politics and the federal government.

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