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Boehner's Secret Smoking Spot Smoked Out

Poor John Boehner.

The nicotine-addicted Republican Congressman from Ohio can't smoke in the House Speaker's Lobby anymore (thanks to Nancy Pelosi). Ditto that at the Republicans' Capitol Hill Club. And now, to add insult to injury, no longer can he light up at his secret favorite smoking joint: the National Democratic Club, where Boehner had been sneaking over to smoke with friends from the other side of the aisle.

Boehner, the House minority leader, had been spotted at the Democratic Club on several occasions since the D.C. government's smoking ban went into effect, puffing on his Barclay cigarettes and having a few drinks and laughs with Democratic members of Congress and lobbyists.

But it looks like the bipartisan smoke fest has flamed out. The Democratic Club had tried to get around the citywide indoor smoking ban, but it didn't quite qualify for the exemption for businesses that make at least 10 percent of their revenues from sales of tobacco.

Tom Jolly, a Democratic lobbyist and a member of the club, says he assumed the Democratic Club could get away with smoking... in this city.

"If you're a Republican, you assume the D.C. government is going to go after you hard. And if you're a Democrat, that they're just going to wink and look the other way," he said with a laugh.

Boy was he wrong. The club went smoke-free in deference to the law earlier this month. Club members say they'll miss Boehner, who became a big hit at the other party's club, as we reported last month.

"I hope it doesn't mean that the days of Republican 'club' hopping are over," says Melanie Morris, a spokeswoman for Rep. Allen Boyd (D-Fla.), who himself doesn't smoke but has enjoyed hanging out with the interloping Boehner. "Congressman Boyd won't miss the smoke, but I'm sure he'll miss the bipartisan company."

Jolly says he hopes that "just because Boehner can't smoke at the club any more doesn't discourage him from coming over to have a drink with us."

Boehner is being awfully tight-lipped about his secret smoking spot going smoke free. His spokesman had "no comment."

By Mary Ann Akers  |  April 26, 2007; 3:25 PM ET
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