Crush on Palin haunts Democrat

April 03, 2009|By LAURA VOZZELLA

What's a nice Democrat like John Coale doing in the middle of a transcontinental tug-of-war for Sarah Palin?

Palin has a staff in Alaska that tends to her needs as governor and a staff at a Washington-area PAC that tends to her national brand-building, and together, they're all one big, dysfunctional family whose failure to communicate has led to lots of gaffes, Politico contends.

The blog puts much of the blame on Coale, the big-time Democratic fundraiser best known in Maryland for lending Martin O'Malley $500,000 in the final days of the governor's race - and receiving, in return, a bite in the keister from gubernatorial mutt Scout, who was later "rehomed." That, and Coale is the husband of Fox's Greta Van Susteren. Not to mention a former waiter at Martick's.

A wealthy trial lawyer, Coale supported Hillary Clinton in the primary. After she lost, he endorsed John McCain, who he said he had long admired, and traveled with his campaign. Even harder for his Democratic pals to swallow: he has admitted having a crush on Palin.

Politico blames Coale for some of Palin's problems because, after the election, he helped set up SarahPAC. It reports that he's a "political adviser" to her, upsetting to some because he's a Dem and the husband of an Eastern Media Elite.

"I'm getting it from both sides," Coale told me this week. "All the Democrats are [ticked] off at me because they think I'm running Sarah Inc. And Republicans are [ticked] off because ... they want to be the big cheese with Sarah Palin. I guess they think I'm keeping them out of the inner circle, which is total fantasy."

Coale confirmed that he had helped Palin set up the PAC as a way of funding travel. He said he had also helped her establish a legal-defense fund to pay bills racked up during various state investigations. He said he had not donated to either fund - but he did open his checkbook just last week to attend a fundraiser in New York with Bill Clinton for "Hillary's replacement."

"I gave her the max you can give, which I think is $4,800," he said. "Nothing's changed with the Clintons and me. And nothing's changed with Nancy Pelosi and me. ... O'Malley has really been good to me about this. Not happy, but a good friend. ... We exchanged e-mails last night."

About?

"I think it was about when we'd have lunch."

Coale has stayed in contact with Palin, but he disputed the notion that he advises her on politics.

"The other day, I e-mailed her when she picked an attorney general, and I e-mailed her, 'Looks like a good pick for attorney general.' "

She hadn't consulted Coale beforehand, he said. ("As a matter off fact, I read about it in the newspaper.") And she didn't respond to the e-mail, at least not immediately. ("She usually takes a couple days.")

Is he still smitten?

"This is a lot of trouble for smitten."

New No. 2 at FDA

Dr. Joshua Sharfstein started work this week as the federal Food and Drug Administration's No. 2 feeling like ... a big shot? More like a lost little boy.

"My own experience with the FDA began at age 5 during a visit to my father's office at the National Institutes for Mental Health on the 18th floor of the Parklawn Building," the former Baltimore health commissioner wrote in an introductory e-mail to colleagues at the FDA, which is based in the same Rockville office tower.

"When my dad stopped for a moment to talk with a colleague, I jumped on an elevator and started pressing buttons. About 20 minutes later, I turned up on the 13th floor. Fortunately, a kind person - most likely an FDA employee - managed to track my dad down. This was apparently much appreciated by my mother.

"To the thousands of FDA staff who confront challenges to the health and safety of the American people every day, I thank you for seeing these challenges as opportunities for progress. And to all who will keep me from getting lost again ... I thank you in advance."

Still hoping

A 14-year-old kid stood on the state Senate floor one night this week, dressed in a suit and looking like Bryan Simonaire's Mini-Me.

Isaac Simonaire, the state senator's son, had gotten dad to submit a bill to designate October "Young Heroes Month." Trimmed down to "Young Heroes Day," it was up for a vote, The Baltimore Sun's Julie Bykowicz reports.

"What do you think, kiddo, up or down?" Senate President Mike Miller asked. Isaac gave a thumbs-up. Lots of senators clicked the red "no" button to fake him out, but in the end, they all voted green.

Charming Schoolhouse Rock moment for the boy. If only Isaac could win over those meanies in the House, where a committee killed the bill. Sen. Simonaire's office said it is still holding out hope.

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