In perhaps the most thorough and earnest letter ever written on the subject of a member of Congress's portrait, [Democrat Rep. Charles] Rangel's campaign attorney sent a letter to the Federal Election Commission asking permission to use either campaign or leadership political action committee money to pay for the chairman's grand portrait.
The lawyer, Phu Huynh, wrote, "The cost of commissioning the portrait of Representative Rangel is estimated by the artist to be $64,500, including the cost of a custom frame. . . . Portrait artists determine fees based largely upon reputation, but the size of the subject and detail required also factor heavily in the pricing."
In other news, Rep. Scott Garrett explains why dog fighting shouldn't be federalized:
"Michael Vick has committed egregious acts towards animals and should get punished for his crimes," Garrett told us in an e-mail through his spokeswoman, adding: "My previous vote in regards to animal fighting was to keep federal law enforcement from taking over state crimes. Prosecutors and officers are already stretched thin. For instance, over the last 10 years, federal courts have dealt with a 172% increase in sexual offence cases, largely due to increases in prosecutions for sexually explicit materials such as child pornography. With almost 70,000 victims and families waiting for justice across the country (over 1,000 in New Jersey alone), it doesn't seem reasonable to prolong their suffering by creating a law that would make actions that are already illegal and prosecutable under state laws, a federal offense."