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Democrats still shying away from town hall events

by Washington Free Beacon on 04/11/2016

Caught Our Eye items are posted daily. LegiStorm Pro subscribers have access to all posts a few hours before other users, and are also able to search the full Caught Our Eye archive. Log in as a LegiStorm Pro user or learn more about subscribing.

Posted by Nate Hoffman on May 4, 2016

The new press secretary for a liberal firebrand in the House, Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.), participated in the memorial services for former President Ronald Reagan as an honorary guard.

Chris Evanson was a petty officer with the U.S. Coast Guard for more than three years and was assigned to be a member of the Presidential Honor Guard. His tenure included serving during President Reagan's memorial services. The president passed away from Alzheimer's disease on June 5, 2004. Reagan's casket laid in state at his Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif. and at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. before his body was flown back to Southern California for internment.

In addition to being a member of the honor guard, Evanson also served as a spokesperson for the Coast Guard. He also was a media consultant for the U.S.-Korea Institute at SAIS and as a public affairs specialist at the U.S. Department of State before joining the Floridian Democrat's staff. He earned an associate's degree from Florida State College at Jacksonville, a bachelor's degree from American University and a master's degree from Georgetown University. 

Posted by J. Todd Foster on May 3, 2016

Republicans in Congress took nearly three times as many privately funded trips as Democrats did in the first quarter of this year.

Of the 533 trips taken in the first quarter for a total of $858,002, Republicans and their staffs took 390 for $616,985. That's 73 percent of the total trips taken and 72 percent of the total money spent.

Some 234 of those trips were training seminars in Baltimore for Republican chiefs of staff to learn how to effectively manage a congressional office. The Congressional Institute hosted the 234 staffers at a cost of $178,790. Removing that trip, Republicans still outpaced Democrats by 299 trips to 234 for $438,195 compared to $419,807.

The most expensive trip so far in 2016 belongs to Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-Minn.), who traveled with his daughter, Cassandra, and toured health care facilities and met with community members and government officials in Kenya from March 5-11. Funded by World Vision Inc. and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the trip cost $27,357 - the 29th most-expensive congressional trip since 2000, when LegiStorm's trips database began.

Posted by J. Todd Foster on May 2, 2016

Comedian Larry Wilmore, the roaster-in-chief for President Obama's final White House Correspondents Dinner over the weekend, might have bombed inside the Hilton ballroom, but several congressional staffers on the outside took to Twitter on Sunday to praise Wilmore's performance. Many staffers thought Obama was the real comedian-in-chief on that night.

Here's a sampling of their tweets:

Nawaid Ladak, legislative aide, Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas)

"Larry Wilmore killed it tonight, IDC if the press hated it. He absolutely nailed it."

Leacy Burke, communications director, Rep. Joe Wilson (S.C.)

"Larry Wilmore's jokes are awkward and uncomfortable while watching in my living room. Can only imagine what it's like at the Hilton. #WHCD" 

Michael Hardaway, senior adviser/communications director, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.)

"BO was on fire. Larry Wilmore went in. The Google party was insane. And an awkward drunken fight happened @ the MSNBC party. Best #WHCD ever."

Michael Shapiro, communications adviser, Speaker Paul Ryan (Wis.)

"The fifth best part of the night: Larry Wilmore makes a Bill Cosby joke and C-SPAN cuts to ... ... ... IRS Commissioner John Koskinen."

Shae Ashe, constituent services representative, Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-Pa.)

"I had to stop watching the #WHCD when Obama started to close his speech. I refuse to believe he won't be president anymore 😭"

Mattie Duppler, coalitions director, House Republican Conference

"Wow that #WHCD video is hilarious. Meanwhile, in Syria..." 

Lauren Miller, digital director, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)

"I was way more annoyed/outraged when Don Lemon said "nice rack" on @CNN NYE than him flipping off cspan tonight, tbh. #whcd" 

Tyler Tordsen, special assistant, Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) 

".@POTUS was funny, ill give him that. This follow up by @larrywilmore though is horrible. #WHCD #NerdProm" 

Shane Smith, legislative correspondent, Rep. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.)

"Welp Don Lemon bout to be suspended for the middle fin[g]er caught on camera at #WHCD. #NerdProm"

Pat O'Grady, legislative correspondent, Rep. Raúl Labrador (R-Idaho)

"Most of the press has to wish they were watching hockey, right? #WHCD #StanleyCup" 

Michael Collier, congressional staff member, Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio)

"Obama absolutely killing it at his last #WHCD. I'm so going to miss this man." 

Carolina Vanvick, press secretary, Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.)

"Nerd Prom. #WHCD 2016. @ Washington Hilton - White House Correspondents Dinner" 

Posted by J. Todd Foster on April 29, 2016

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) has hired the caretaker for the Arkansas Razorbacks' mascot as his agriculture project manager.

New staff member Keith Stokes also is the former president of the Arkansas Pork Producers Association. And he's had plenty of beefs with chicken giant Tyson Foods Inc., especially when the poultry firm restructured in 2002 and closed its company-owned and leased hog farms. More than 80 farmers, including Stokes, sued Tyson.

Stokes' wife woke him up back then to "tell me that our production manager had called to say that Tyson was pulling the hogs off of our farm. Our lives have been in constant turmoil ever since," Stokes told the Sioux City Journal.

Tyson settled the case in 2005 by paying $42.5 million to the 85 contract hog farmers who alleged the company had defrauded them after they built facilities to raise hogs for Tyson.

Stokes and his family began caring for the University of Arkansas mascot, a Russian boar, in the early 1990s when the school decided to beef up fan excitement. The current mascot is "Tusk IV," from the same lineage as the original mascot. "We try to copy it kind of like the royal family has always done," Stokes told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in a 2010 interview. "Razorback fans everywhere own a piece of him. We just get to take care of him."

Posted by J. Todd Foster on April 28, 2016

Citizens for GMO Labeling has hired D.C. Strategies Group LLC to lobby the Senate on four bills to get genetically modified foods labeled.

The Connecticut-based Citizens for GMO Labeling will use D.C. Strategies' lobbyists Mike Chapman, a partner, longtime lobbyist and former legislative director for then-Rep. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.); and Roy DeLoach, a D.C. Strategies partner, lawyer and former chief executive officer of the National Association of Mortgage Brokers.

"GMO labeling bills have been introduced in more than half the United States, and recent polls by major news organizations consistently show that more than 90% of Americans want to know if their food is genetically engineered," Citizens for GMO Labeling says.

"In response, chemical manufacturers and junk food companies, benefiting from the current lack of transparency and information in the food market, have been spending millions of dollars to keep people in the dark about what they're eating. State legislators now have the opportunity to honor the will of the people and protect the democracy of our common food supply. Unless action is taken soon by a critical mass of states, the basic human right of food choice may be rendered obsolete," the organization says.

Biotechnology giant Monsanto maintains that the advent of genetically modified organisms — where agricultural biotechnology and genetic engineering are used to develop new varieties of plant seeds that can resist insects and harsh weather conditions — contain "no credible evidence of harm to humans or animals."

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About Caught Our Eye:

We spend a large part of our days looking at data. Documents often come in by the dozens and hundreds. And while most are boring - how interesting can staring at a phone directory or salary records be, for example? - we find daily reasons for interest, amusement or even concern packed in the documents. So we are launching a new running feature that we call "Caught our Eye."

Longer than tweets but shorter than most blog posts, Caught our Eye items will bring back the interest in reviewing documents and researching people. Some items might bring hard, breaking news. Others will raise eyebrows and lead some into further inquiry. Others might be good for a joke or two around the water cooler. All will enlighten about the people or workings of Capitol Hill.

Caught our Eye items will be published each morning for LegiStorm Pro subscribers. Non-Pro site users will be able to receive the news items a few hours later. In addition to having immediate access to the news, LegiStorm Pro users will have a handy way to search and browse all past items.