- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 4, 2011

Gov. Martin O’Malley visited Southern Maryland last week to survey damage caused by Hurricane Irene and almost left behind something important - his BlackBerry.

Mr. O’Malley, a Democrat, was wrapping up a visit Tuesday afternoon to the Calvert County Emergency Operations Center when a local official spotted the governor’s smartphone on a table and alerted him just as he was leaving.

The governor quickly doubled back and retrieved the phone, but one can only wonder what sensitive information could have slipped into the wrong hands. Private emails? Redistricting plans? Perhaps an ongoing Words With Friends game with Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown? One political rival in attendance - House Minority Leader Anthony J. O’Donnell, Calvert Republican - was eager to find out.

“I’ll take that, Mr. Governor,” Mr. O’Donnell said to laughs.

After securing the phone, Mr. O’Malley revealed that the phone was perhaps more important than anyone could imagine.

“It controls our missile-defense systems against Virginia,” he said.

Water wars

The debate about how D.C. Council members should use their Constituent Services Fund - a pool of leftover campaign cash and private donations - has done little to clarify the open-ended law that allows spending ranging from sports tickets and community meals to utility bills and funeral expenses.

But a look at 11,000-plus expenditures published by the Office of Campaign Finance for the past decade makes one thing clear: Council members love to buy bottled water.

But don’t worry, they shop around. Deer Park appears to be the front-runner, with 130 expenditures to Culligan’s 116 and DrinkMore Water’s 46.

Maybe it’s to wash down some fast food. Although we’re not talking big bucks, here, constituent services funds were used to make purchases at Subway (nine times), McDonald’s (seven times) and Popeye’s (twice). Pizza Hut reigns supreme, though, making 10 appearances as a payee from various funds.

Cantor ‘invites’ critics

Though Congress was still on summer recess last week, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Virginia Republican, was working overtime.

Mr. Cantor early in the week reiterated his stance - in the wake of an Aug. 28 earthquake and then Hurricane Irene, both of which damaged Virginia - that federal emergency funds should be offset with spending cuts.

He later said he cared about those who suffered losses and that “the monies will be there.”

But that didn’t satisfy critics.

On Wednesday evening, about 200 protesters gathered outside of a meeting of Mr. Cantor’s advisory council, held at the Holiday Inn Koger Center in Midlothian. The protest, which included the grass-roots organization Virginia Organizing, was meant, in part, to call attention to the ongoing jobs crisis in Mr. Cantor’s district and his comments on disaster funding.

The protest resulted in a little head-scratching by Mr. Cantor.

“Anyone can really sign up to be here,” he said. “I’m not quite so sure why that was productive outside. … This is a campaign event open to the public. Again, all you have to do is go online and sign up.”

• David Hill, Tom Howell Jr. and David Sherfiniski contributed to this report

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