The August recess is turning into a game of “Where’s Waldo?” with members of Congress playing the role of the elusive striped-shirt-wearing cartoon character.
Seems that lawmakers are torn over holding town halls and other public forums — on one hand, they know they have to have them because it’s pretty important to meet with the people they ostensibly work for.
On the other hand — think back to the tea party in the summer of 2009 — they worry that the sessions could get out of control.
And this summer, with divisive issues — immigration and health care in particular — roiling voters, public events have the potential to produce embarrassing exchanges, or just turn into circuses.
Trying to keep their plans under the radar, many lawmakers were quietly announcing their district events, direct-mailing constituents, and keeping the dates and times off their Web sites, where they could easily be shared among the activist set.
As our colleague Matea Gold points out, folks from both sides of the political spectrum are compiling the schedules of members of Congress, essentially crowdsourcing their way to knowing where the lawmakers will be showing their faces.
FreedomWorks has set up an online “Demand a Townhall” portal for people to share local events at which they plan to apply none-too-gentle pressure on lawmakers to make sure they’re doing “everything they can to defund ObamaCare.”
“You can go on recess, but you can’t hide,” FreedomWorks President Matt Kibbe warned in a statement.
Meanwhile, the progressive group Americans United for Change has something similar planned. The group launched a Web site this week that will let the activist community know where Republican members of Congress will be at any given time.
The plan is to effectively turn them into an army of “trackers,” by urging them to pose questions (there’s a list of suggested tough queries on the Web site for issues including guns, jobs and immigration), film their interactions, and share them.
Well, at least when members of Congress are asked in September what they did on their summer vacations, they’ll have plenty of photos and videos to show.
Sen. Rand Paul dislikes: big government, drones and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie .
He likes: filibustering, the occasional Bluegrass State bourbon . . . and our colleague David A. Fahrenthold’s recent story about a magician whose rabbit (the one he pulls out of a hat during his act) got caught up in onerous USDA regulations.
Paul apparently is such a big fan of the story that he’s shared it with colleagues and staffers and posted it on Facebook and Twitter — and the article even appeared under Paul’s own byline in two of his home-state papers.
Seems the local papers ran the story under Paul’s byline as a result of a mix-up. Steve Doyle, the editor of the Sentinel-News in Shelbyville, Ky., explained to the Loop that the piece was included as part of a regular e-mail from the senator’s office. Typical of the updates many lawmakers send media outlets back home, the
e-mail includes clips mentioning Paul, statements issued from his office, opinion articles he’s penned and the like.
The rabbit story was identified in such a recent roundup as an “op-ed” offering by the senator, meaning the newspapers were free to run it.
And run it they did.
Doyle explained that another story had fallen through and he used the story to fill a gap. “I needed to find something in short order,” he said.
The Nelson County Gazette, the other paper that ran the story, ran a correction, citing “incorrect information received by” the newspaper.
Paul’s office realized the labeling error and contacted the papers to correct the record.
The second term has officially begun — at least in terms of current administration officials being nominated to move in, move up or move over to replace those moving out.
President Obama on Thursday evening nominated Washington banker and Obama 2012 mega-bundler Dwight Bush to be ambassador to Morocco.
White House drug czar Gil Kerlikowske got the nod to be commissioner of customs at the Department of Homeland Security. Deputy White House counsel Steven Croley is to be general counsel at the Energy Department.
Washington lawyer Stevan Bunnell is the pick for general counsel at Homeland Security, while career Foreign Service officer Anne Patterson, now ambassador to Egypt, is the nominee for assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs.
Peter Kadzik, principal deputy assistant attorney general for legislative affairs, moves up to be assistant attorney general for legislative affairs, while Suzanne Spaulding, deputy undersecretary of homeland security for national protection programs, moves up to an undersecretary slot.
Kathryn Sullivan, assistant secretary of commerce for observation and predictions (such a cool title), is to become an undersecretary as head of the Commerce Department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker is putting together her front-office team, which looks to be a combination of veteran Washington hands and newcomers.
Kate McAdams, who was executive director of the Pritzker Traubert Family Foundation and before that worked on policy teams for longtime Chicago mayor Richard M. Daley, is coming in as Pritzker’s senior adviser.
Jim Hock, a veteran D.C. business and public affairs strategist who co-founded 463 Communications, and before that a press secretary and spokesman for Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), will be a senior adviser and director of public affairs.
Bruce Andrews, former general counsel on the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation and before that vice president for government relations for Ford Motor Co. and also at lobbying shop Quinn Gillespie, is staying on as Commerce chief of staff.
With Emily Heil