- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Margarita master

Perhaps the U.S. Capitol Police should have been on hand to check IDs for proper proof of age during a recent margarita cocktail party — in the hallowed halls of Congress, no less — thrown by Rep. Jim Kolbe, Arizona Republican, who is retiring this fall after 11 terms in the House.

Inside the Beltway has learned that at least one female congressional intern under the legal drinking age of 21 was served margaritas at the June 29 party — to the point of becoming “intoxicated,” according to one source. During the party, Mr. Kolbe wore a bright green T-shirt that read “Margarita Master,” with the “e” in “Master” printed backward.

Numerous photographs taken by interns who attended the party appear in two albums posted on the popular social-networking Web site Facebook. One shows a female intern posing with Rep. Nancy L. Johnson, Connecticut Republican, with the caption: “Put your margarita down, dear.”

Another shows a male intern, his age uncertain, holding what appears to be a margarita, which usually consists of tequila mixed with lime juice.

Reached yesterday, Mr. Kolbe’s press secretary, Korenna Cline, read us this statement: “The invitation to the Kolbe margarita party clearly stated that no one under the age of 21 would be admitted, and the event was by invitation only. The night of the event someone was posted at the door with the guest list.”

Yet another photo posted on the Web site shows an intern posing with Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy, Rhode Island Democrat, although the congressman was not drinking. He pleaded guilty last month to driving under the influence of prescription drugs after crashing his car into a U.S. Capitol barricade in the middle of the night, and he was sentenced to a year of probation and ordered to undergo drug treatment.

U.S. Capitol Police spokeswoman Sgt. Kimberly Schneider, whose department came under sharp criticism for giving Mr. Kennedy a lift home after his accident without administering a Breathalyzer test, told this column yesterday that she was “unaware” of department policy on alcohol being served at congressional functions. She promised to look into the matter.

Several states in recent years have enacted strict laws dealing with alcohol consumption by teenagers in the presence of adults, including “social host” and “adult responsibility” laws. Minnesota’s Zero Adult Providers Law goes so far as to allow adults and parents to be fined, jailed and sued for damages. In Albuquerque, N.M., authorities go so far as to seize homes from parents if the properties are used for consumption of alcohol by minors.

Hanky panky

Sen. Conrad Burns of Montana may be the quickest quip in Washington, as he demonstrated during a visit to the White House yesterday.

When a woman introduced herself to him as a member of the administration’s legislative affairs office, the Republican replied: “Are you telling me they’re still having affairs over here?”

Young allies

Russia for the first time will host the Group of Eight summit of leading industrialized nations, which gets under way this weekend in St. Petersburg. And what will the democracy-minded President Bush discover upon his arrival in the trendy Russian city?

For that answer, we turn to Veronika Krasheninnikova, representative of the city of St. Petersburg in the United States and president of the Council for Trade and Economic Cooperation USA-CIS.

“St. Petersburg is the intellectual center of Russia, with a new generation of people that are extremely free — the most independent, free-thinking people of Russia,” she tells Inside the Beltway. “The young generations of Russians are very much like Americans, really.”

Jett set

One of the more intriguing races for Congress this fall pits seven-term incumbent Michigan Rep. Joe Knollenberg — “arguably the state’s most powerful Republican” in Congress, opines the Detroit News — against Democrat Nancy Skinner, until recently a popular progressive Detroit radio host and regular pundit on CNN, MSNBC and the Fox News Channel.

Miss Skinner is getting some outside help in her campaign, including from Hollywood rocker Joan Jett. The rock ‘n’ roll guitarist is “pairing up” with Skinner for Congress by offering, in exchange for a $1,000 campaign contribution, two tickets to any one of her upcoming 75 shows across the country, backstage passes and “a personal call from Joan herself.”

John McCaslin, whose column is nationally syndicated, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or [email protected]washingtontimes.com.

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