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A monthly roundup of people we'd like to have over for drinks, food, and conversation.
Photo-illustration by John Ueland. Photograph of Hingis by Yuya Shino/Landov; Smith by Kristina Sherk; Hogan by Johnny Simon/Newscom; Trotz by Andrew Harnik/Landov; McHenry by Patrick McMullan Co./Newscom.

1. Martina Hingis

Seven years after her last appearance in a Grand Slam singles event, the Washington Kastles tennis star makes it to the final in women’s doubles at the US Open.

2. Richard Craig Smith

The Norton Rose Fulbright lawyer and former prosecutor has been retained by the NFL play-ers’ union to investigate Ray Rice’s spousal-abuse allegations and the league’s handling of the case.

3. Cynthia Hogan

A former Joe Biden aide who helped write the 1994 Violence Against Women act, she’s been hired by the NFL to head its DC lobbying operation. We’ll seat her next to Smith and eavesdrop.

4. Barry Trotz

The Washington Capitals’ new coach assigned lockers to the players based on what he expects from them. Fine—as long as he stays on the right side of Alex Ovechkin.

5. Britt McHenry

The former WJLA sports reporter, stolen by ESPN earlier this year, is helping give the network’s NFL pre-game show a feminine voice.

6. Erwin Andres

The Gorove/Slade civil engineer oversaw a report calling a proposed DC United soccer stadium “an excellent starting point” for revitalizing Buzzard Point.

Photograph of Pierce by Adam Hunger/Landov.

Disinvited: Paul Pierce

For wearing a Celtics jacket at Derek Jeter’s last game at Fenway. We know he’s going into the Hall of Fame as a Celtic, but is it too much to ask to represent the Wizards while taking their money?

This article appears in our November 2014 issue of Washingtonian.

Posted at 11:50 AM/ET, 10/31/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
A monthly roundup of people we'd like to have over for drinks, food, and conversation.
Photo-illustration by John Ueland. Photograph of Reyes-Gavilan courtesy of DC Public Library; Megan Smith by Steve Parsons/AP Photo; William Kennedy Smith by Jeff Malet Photography/Newscom; Foer by Pablo Sartor; Kolick by Kevin Leclaire/UltiPhotos; Helderman courtesy of The Washington Post.

1. Richard Reyes-Gavilan

The DC Public Library’s new chief has a mandate to turn the decrepit but historic Mies van der Rohe-designed Martin Luther King Jr. library into a bustling flagship for the new-media era.

2. Megan Smith

We want to ask the Google executive named to replace Todd Park as the nation’s chief technology officer how she’ll balance privacy issues with the industry’s know-all, see-all impulses.

3. William Kennedy Smith

With his 1991 rape acquittal a distant memory (he hopes), the Kennedy scion and Foggy Bottom physician is running for an Advisory Neighborhood Commission seat in DC.

4. Esther Foer

The executive director of Sixth & I, a historic synagogue rededicated ten years ago, has created a multigenerational, multidenominational cultural hub that has revived a landmark.

5. Alan Kolick

An offensive star for Washington’s Ultimate Frisbee team, DC Current, the Arlington native was named Eastern Conference MVP on the Current’s way to the league national championship.

6. Rosalind Helderman

The Washington Post correspondent broke the story of Governor Bob McDonnell’s relationship with Jonnie Williams, always seeing the bigger issue in every sordid turn.

Photograph by Steve Helber/AP Photo.

Disinvited: Henry Asbill

His risky "she was a witch" defense turned Bob and Maureen McDonnell's marriage into tabloid fodder without explaining the guv's "can I get another $20,000?" texts.

This article appears in the October 2014 issue of Washingtonian.

Posted at 03:00 PM/ET, 10/03/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
A monthly roundup of people we’d like to have over for drinks, food, and conversation.
Photo-illustration by John Ueland. Photographs of Connolly and Ribeiro by T.J. Kirkpatrick/Washington Times/Landov. Photograph of Dingell by Ann Savage.

1. Gerry Connolly
Since his days as a Fairfax County supervisor, he’s dreamed of bringing transit and development to the car-oriented county. With the Silver Line finally open, Connolly—now a congressman—won’t even need a ride to dinner.

2. Michele Roberts
The Skadden Arps litigator, whom we once called “one of the city’s most feared trial lawyers,” becomes the first woman to lead the NBA players’ association—or any major sports union. Notice served.

3. Debbie Dingell
A shoo-in for husband John’s seat in Congress, she’ll go from being one of Washington’s most powerful lobbyists to being a backbench member of the minority party. Invite her while she can still dish on the influential.

4. Wayne Frederick
Howard University’s new president, hired to lead the financially troubled, vision-challenged school, knows what he’s getting into. A cancer surgeon, the Trinidad native has a long history with life-or-death battles.

5. Aba Kwawu
The founder of the publicity agency TAA PR recently added Daniel Boulud’s forthcoming DC restaurant to a client list that includes a José Andrés eatery and Fabio Trabocchi. She’ll owe us a meal!

6. Pedro Ribeiro
As Vince Gray’s flack, he delighted in punching back against the DC mayor’s critics during an ongoing federal ethics probe. Now doing PR at Homeland Security, Ribeiro goes from bemoaning aggressive feds to working on their behalf.

Photograph of Johnson by Tony Powell/Washington Life.

Disinvited: Benny Johnson
Everyone disapproves of plagiarism, but when a “viral politics” writer gets canned for lifting political information from Wikipedia, it brings a special scorn. Johnson lost his BuzzFeed job, became the butt of jokes, and won a spot on our disinvited list.

This article appears in the September 2014 issue of Washingtonian. In our print issue, photos of Michele Roberts and Aba Kwawu were misidentified. We have corrected the error in this version.

Posted at 09:00 AM/ET, 08/21/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
In “The President's Gatekeepers,” former White House chiefs of staff compare their job to that of a point guard, quarterback, and other metaphors. By Benjamin Freed

For a position routinely described as the "worst job in the world," the White House chief of staff isn't a terrible gig. If anything, it's generally a pretty good launchpad to higher office (Dick Cheney, Rahm Emanuel) or at least a lucrative spot on the paid speaking appearance circuit (pretty much all of them).

It's also a job that gets described with mixed sports metaphors, judging from a exclusive clip Washingtonian received from The Presidents' Gatekeepers, a four-hour documentary airing tonight and Thursday at 9 PM on Discovery. In the clip below, Jack Watson, who served as President Jimmy Carter's chief of staff, compares the job to that of a point guard, and then to that of a quarterback.

The metaphors jump again when the narrator says the chief of staff "is also the president's consigliere, the enforcer who makes sure the administration is focused on his agenda."

Perhaps former CIA Director and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who was President Bill Clinton's second chief of staff, puts it best: "You've gotta be the son of a bitch who basically tells somebody what the president can't tell them."

Read More

Posted at 09:55 AM/ET, 09/11/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
With a hip condo, Hollywood friends, and a love of restaurants, she isn’t your usual Supreme Court justice. By Marisa M. Kashino
Jaleo owner José Andrés with Sotomayor at the restaurant’s recent 20th-anniversary party. Photograph by Carol Ross Joynt.

When Barack Obama made Sonia Sotomayor the first Supreme Court pick of his presidency in 2009, court watchers knew that the relatively young, first-ever Latina justice would bring new energy to One First Street. But no one could have predicted how much she’d shake things up.

Says Tom Goldstein, a cofounder of SCOTUSblog: “She’s breaking the mold and lighting it on fire.”

With the high court wrapping up its term this month, it’s clear Sotomayor had her most exciting year in Washington yet. Here are the highlights.

• She bought a stylish pad in one of the District’s coolest neighborhoods. By trading her Cleveland Park rental for a $660,000 condo in the U Street corridor, Sotomayor solidified her standing as the hippest member of the bench. Her colleagues have settled in much more staid locales. For instance, Ruth Bader Ginsburg lives in the Watergate, and John Roberts and Antonin Scalia commute from Chevy Chase and McLean, respectively.

• While Supreme Court justices are notoriously private, Sotomayor has embraced DC nightlife. She’s been spotted at trendy restaurants such as Ardeo & Bardeo and Posto. And earlier this spring, she celebrated with chef José Andrés at the 20th-anniversary bash for his Penn Quarter eatery Jaleo.

• Thanks to the release of her memoir, My Beloved World, Sotomayor hung out with a lot of Hollywood types this year. She gave a joint book talk with actress Rita Moreno, who also has a new memoir, at the Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Sidney Harman Hall in March. She sat down with Oprah Winfrey, and she promoted her book in LA with former Desperate Housewife Eva Longoria.

• Sotomayor can tell you how to get to Sesame Street—because she made a guest appearance on the show in which she girl-talked with Muppet Abby Cadabby about becoming a doctor, engineer, or scientist instead of a princess.

• She big-timed the Vice President—sort of. When Joe Biden’s swearing-in for his second term conflicted with a Sotomayor book signing in New York, he rearranged his schedule to accommodate the justice. Biden didn’t seem to mind; he said having her administer the oath was “a wonderful honor.”

• After two days of arguments in this term’s landmark cases over the legality of same-sex marriage, Sotomayor emerged as a standout inquisitor. When she asked one of the attorneys opposing gay marriage whether he could think of any other scenario—such as refusing employment—in which a state could use sexual orientation to deny people benefits, he stammered for an answer before conceding he didn’t have one.

A version of this article appears in the June 2013 issue of The Washingtonian.

Posted at 10:05 AM/ET, 06/06/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
The push for new legislation leads the NRA to hire Greenberg Traurig to bolster its lobbying efforts. By Marisa M. Kashino

Todd Weiss. Photograph courtesy of File Photo/Newscom.

With the Obama administration pushing for tighter gun control after Sandy Hook, the NRA ramped up its legislative fight, spending $830,000 on lobbying in the first quarter of 2013, compared with $725,000 during the same period last year. As it fought off the bill that would have expanded background checks for gun buyers, it hired a new lobbying firm, Greenberg Traurig, and parted ways with another, Dentons.

The NRA’s recently added advocate, Michael Williams, a senior director at Greenberg Traurig, was an in-house lobbyist for the NRA before joining Greenberg in 2001. He bills himself as “one of the major architects” of the NRA’s strategy to derail President Clinton’s gun-control legislation in the late ’90s. Williams has also represented Smith & Wesson since 2005, bringing in $60,000 from the gun maker last year. So far in 2013, Greenberg Traurig has made $20,000 from the NRA.

When Todd Weiss and Mathew Lapinski jumped from Dentons to Crossroads Strategies this spring, they apparently took their former firm’s NRA representation with them. Weiss and Lapinski have lobbied for the association since 2005, and the NRA paid Dentons $120,000 in 2012. The duo surely fits in at Crossroads, which has represented the NRA since the firm’s founding in 2010. It made $240,000 from the NRA last year.

This article appears in the June 2013 issue of The Washingtonian.

Posted at 09:30 AM/ET, 05/31/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
Things may be just a bit awkward if Holder returns to Covington & Burling. By Marisa M. Kashino

Before his January retirement, Senate minority whip Jon Kyl made no secret of his disdain for attorney general Eric Holder. He loudly opposed Holder’s decision to try terror suspects in federal courts. And amid calls from the right for Holder’s resignation in the wake of the Fast and Furious gunrunning controversy, Kyl told the Daily Caller, “There are a lot of reasons the country would be better off without Eric Holder.”

All of this is to say things could get a little awkward if Holder decides to return to Covington & Burling—where he was a star litigation partner before joining the Obama administration—because Kyl recently became a senior adviser in the firm’s lobbying practice. Kyl considered about a dozen firms—four or five seriously—before choosing Covington. Among the issues on which he plans to advise clients are national security and immigration—areas in which a former attorney general’s insight would be a huge asset.

But would Kyl have trouble collaborating with Holder if the attorney general rejoined the firm? The former senator says no. In fact, he’s already got a plan for extending an olive branch: “I’d invite him to have lunch.”

This article appears in the May 2013 issue of The Washingtonian.

Posted at 10:25 AM/ET, 05/01/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
It definitely beats a boardroom. By Marisa M. Kashino
This could be yours for only $775,000 a night. Photograph courtesy of Royal Carribean.

What’s a law firm to do when it grows so big it can’t find a suitable venue on land to host a meeting of all its partners? The 4,200-lawyer firm DLA Piper’s solution is to charter a Royal Caribbean cruise ship.

The legal behemoth, which has a large Washington office among its 100-plus worldwide locations, is hosting a four-night excursion aboard the ship in May. The partners will set sail from Barcelona and head up the coast to Nice. Sure, difficulty finding a big enough hotel may have sparked the idea. But there’s also little doubt that the idea of a Mediterranean cruise sounded much more appealing than hunkering down in a Marriott conference room for a weekend.

The main purpose of the cruise is for the partners to get to know one another better and find opportunities to work together. Meetings and focus groups are scheduled throughout the trip. But there will be time for fun, too. The firm hosted a similar cruise in 2008, and social events included winetasting, mini-golf, and rock climbing.

Of course, none of this comes cheap. The firm chartered Royal Caribbean’s Liberty of the Seas, which belongs to the Freedom class of ships. According to Royal Caribbean’s website, chartering a Freedom liner for four nights during peak season, March through August, costs $3.1 million—not including booze.

For that much money, here’s hoping there are no norovirus outbreaks—and, more important, that everyone brings appropriate swimwear.

This article appears in the May 2013 issue of The Washingtonian.

Posted at 10:00 AM/ET, 05/01/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
The guest host’s wife offered her opinion on whether women are chattier than men. By Marisa M. Kashino

David Gregory. Photograph courtesy of Flickr user alvesfamily.

Viewers of the Today Show this morning got a small peek into the marriage of one of Washington’s best-known power couples. Following a story examining whether women talk more than men, David Gregory, the host of NBC’s Meet the Press, got a surprise phone call from his wife and super litigator, Beth Wilkinson.

Wilkinson, a partner at Paul Weiss, phoned in to bust Gregory and dispel the story’s conclusion that women are the chattier gender. She thanked Gregory’s co-hosts for “keeping our house quiet this week,” since Gregory is in New York filling in for Matt Lauer on Today. Gregory admitted that Wilkinson “often tells me to stop talking about myself.”

Though Gregory may be the more talkative one, Wilkinson’s no wallflower. And surely when it comes to arguing or negotiating, she lays down some serious verbal prowess. As one of the nation’s best regarded trial lawyers, she’s been involved in such high-profile cases as the prosecution of the Oklahoma City bombers. She was also the head lawyer at Fannie Mae while the mortgage giant battled for its life in the midst of the 2007-2008 financial meltdown.

Posted at 10:50 AM/ET, 02/21/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
The new site goes live February 4. By Carol Ross Joynt
Photograph of Sullivan courtesy of Flickr user Stuck in Customs.

Writer, commentator, and blogger Andrew Sullivan began the new year by announcing that he planned to leave his perch at the Daily Beast and face the largely uncharted waters of a subscription website. Clearly he’s on to something, and it begins with recognizing his obvious popularity. The site,, doesn’t even go live until February 4, and already he’s sold $480,000 in $19.99 annual subscriptions. Sullivan says half the subscribers “gave more money than we asked for.” The site is owned by Dish Publishing LLC, a new company he founded with two partners, Patrick Appel and Chris Bodenner. When he announced the company to his Daily Beast readers, he said the trio “agreed to set out on our own with no safety net below us but you.” Sail on, Andrew.

Posted at 03:26 PM/ET, 01/24/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()