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Chicago pol Dan Rostenkowski remembered

Emma Brown

Dan Rostenkowski is the second powerful pork-barrel politician whose career was ended by allegations of ethics violations to die this week -- after Ted Stevens, who died Monday in an Alaskan plane crash.

Mr. Rostenkowski left too many stories to fit into his obituary.

For example: When Rep. Kent Hance (D-Texas) co-sponsored a 1981 Reagan tax bill that Ways and Mean chairman Mr. Rostenkowski publicly opposed, the wheels on Hance's chair in the Ways and Means committee room went missing.

Hance had a staffer replace the wheels, according to a 1993 Post profile of Mr. Rostenkowski, but the next day they were gone again. The back-and-forth went on for weeks. When the committee traveled to China, Hance was not invited.

He was later allowed on a trip to Baltimore, but Mr. Rostenkowski made him sit in the back of the bus, behind the staffers and next to the toilet.

Another story: He commanded respect, but not from everyone. In a memorable 1989 moment, a group of livid senior citizens chased him down the street and forced him to take refuge in his car. They were angry about his support for a bill to charge a surtax on some older Americans in order to provide catastrophic care insurance for others. The intimidation tactics worked -- the catastrophic care measure didn't survive.

And another: Mr. Rostenkowski was instrumental in passing a huge, sweeping tax reform law in 1986 that closed a bunch of loopholes for corporations and exempted millions of low-income workers from paying taxes. To boost his chances for passing the legislation, he made a rare television appearance in 1985 to urge viewers to show their support for tax reform by writing him a letter. He gave no address.

"Just address it to Rosty," he said. "The Post Office will get it to me."

75,000 letters poured in.

Please share your stories in the comments section.

By Emma Brown  |  August 11, 2010; 1:19 PM ET
Categories:  Emma Brown , Politics  | Tags: dan rostenkowski, dan rostenkowski bio, dan rostenkowski chicago, dan rostenkowski dead, dan rostenkowski died, dan rostenkowski dies, dan rostenkowski obituary, dan rostenkowski stories, illinois congressman dan rostenkowski, illinois representative dan rostenkowski  
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