Train, questions sticky for lawmakers ALL-STAR GAME July 13 1993 Baltimore

July 14, 1993|By Karen Hosler | Karen Hosler,Washington Bureau

Members of Congress at the All-Star Game? It's as American as apple pie.

But the special privilege of attending the sold-out game at Oriole Park at Camden Yards didn't look very special last night aboard two hot and stuffy train cars headed from Washington to Baltimore for the game.

About two dozen lawmakers made the uncomfortable journey. But when asked where they got the tickets many Orioles fans would have mortgaged their homes for, they appeared even more uncomfortable. None was eager to admit it if he had accepted the offer from Major League Baseball to buy two tickets.

"I don't know where it came from," Rep. Jim Slattery, a Kansas Democrat, said of his ticket. He surmised he may have gotten it through the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which rented a train car on the 5:50 p.m. MARC train for the House Democrats.

"I don't think I took them," he said of the tickets offered by Major League Baseball.

Sen. Chris Dodd, a Connecticut Democrat who missed an earlier train bearing many of his Senate colleagues to Baltimore, was more adamant.

"I turned down the [MLB] tickets," he said. "This is from the DCCC."

But the DCCC didn't provide any tickets to the game, according to spokesman Michael Meehan, who got his own tickets in a lottery entered for him by his wife. He said the fund-raising committee had paid only for the $6.75 round-trip train ticket and some cold beer.

Rep. Steny H. Hoyer, a Maryland Democrat, was similarly vague about the source of his left-field seats -- though he was sure he had paid for them. Hoyer noted he had been offered the opportunity to buy All-Star tickets by many friends and associates, a fact of life in Congress.

Sen. Alan K. Simpson, a Wyoming Republican, for example, said

he was a guest of Orioles owner Eli Jacobs -- a friend of 15 years. Simpson also noted that he is a leader in the effort to end baseball's antitrust exemption.

"So I don't think I'm a captive," he said.

Other Senate Republicans also put themselves at arm's length from the baseball owners.

A fund-raising group known as the Republican Senatorial Council provided the game tickets and train fare for half a dozen or so senators "and our friends," as Sen. Christopher S. Bond, a Republican from Missouri, called them.

How the Republican Senatorial Council was able to buy tickets to the game was a mystery to Bond, however.

Truth is, the train ride was not the sort of posh event that makes taxpayers crazy.

The heat was so oppressive in the Democrats' private car, many moved over to join the Republicans, whom Bond said "were with the people."

But the Republicans, not only traveling coach class but also with only a few six-packs, ran out of beer.

"You probably have armed guards over there," Bond teased Hoyer when the Democrat came over to cool off.

"We have to," Hoyer shot back. "We're from Congress."

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