- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The detail, please

We are not the only ones undercover. As we previously reported, we noticed at the Capitol File party Saturday that White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel brought an entourage with him to the soiree, not of fellow White House staffers, but of security guards.

It turns out Mr. Emanuel has been assigned a Secret Service detail since becoming the president’s chief of staff in January.

As you might expect, this is very hush-hush. When we started digging around, nobody wanted to talk. The White House press office referred us to Mr. Emanuel’s press spokesman, who declined to comment but referred us to the Secret Service.

Here’s what we were told by e-mail from Darrin Blackford, a special agent and Secret Service spokesman, who would not offer us specifics: “The Secret Service currently has a protective detail assigned to Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel. This protection is authorized by Executive Order. The Secret Service protects the Chief of Staff and others not specifically identified by statute through Executive Order. We have protected Chiefs of Staff in varying degrees at least as far back as 1982. Some COSs on a temporary basis, others on a more permanent basis, depending on circumstances. Although we do not comment on the scope of our protective methods, protection of Chiefs of Staff has been on a more permanent basis during the last three administrations.”

Gentle as Steele

Unlike his gun-touting, good-ole-boy brethren Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele evidently is in touch with his softer side.

The chairman is fond of wearing Gucci and says he finds cooking “therapeutic.” One of his favorite pastimes is looking for ingredients at Giant.

Mr. Steele, a self-described “thespian” who acted in high school and college performances, raved about “Star Trek” and explained he would like to bridge the divide between the Republican establishment and the arts-and-entertainment community, which has been in lock step with the Obama administration.

From the vaults

We know CNN political analyst Leslie Sanchez is successful, but we were a little surprised when she appeared at the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner in an opulent Christian Dior couture gown, the cost of which could help bail out the mortgage industry.

Did CNN public-relations folks arrange for her to wear something fresh off the Dior runway? Nope. Ms. Sanchez explained that she’d nabbed the duds from the vault of her hairstylist, Erwin Gomez, owner of Erwin Gomez Salon in Georgetown. He also coifs Susan Nixon, publisher of Capitol File magazine.

We had to look into this, so we tracked down Mr. Gomez, and he said his clients come in for hair, makeup and peeks into his highly secret (until now) couture vault, which houses a vast collection of designer duds - everything from Alexander McQueen to Yves Saint Laurent to Oscar de la Renta in sizes 1 to 16 because “we’ve got to get real. People have to eat!”

Having worked in the fashion industry for several years as a fashion photographer, makeup artist and hairstylist, Mr. Gomez has developed relationships with designers and fashion insiders throughout the world. The gowns are castoffs from fashionista friends, including members of royal families. Mr. Gomez offers the gowns for 50 percent to 70 percent off the retail price and recently sold a $10,000 frock for $3,000. “We have to embrace our recession and the hard times, but this is what it’s all about - giving.”

Mr. Gomez indicated some other high rollers have been in the vault but would not reveal their names.

Think of it as a secret Sam’s Club. Where do we sign up?

To contact Stephanie Green and Elizabeth Glover with a tip or to request event coverage, please e-mail undercover@washingtontimes.com.

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