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Lawmakers, The Gifts They Give

Lawmakers are people, too. They give, and they receive. And amidst the marathon partisan (and intra-party) griping over everything from the farm bill to the mammoth Iraq war spending bill, many of them have managed to squeeze in some holiday shopping for the ones they love before splitting town for the Christmas recess.

Though others, including a seemingly anxiety-riddled House Republican Conference Chairman Adam Putnam (R-Fla.), as of Wednesday, hadn't found the time yet. And boy is he worried. As he put it: "I'm in deep doo doo right now."

The wildest spender of them all, House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey (D-Wis.), did his shopping last weekend. He didn't want his wife, his personal budget enforcer, reading about her present in this column but he gave us a clue: "My wife hates to shop so I buy clothes for her...then she'll take half of it back because she thinks it costs too much."

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) didn't want to blow the surprise either for his wife - or he didn't want her to find out he hasn't thought about it yet. "Why would I tell YOU when I'm trying to surprise HER?" said the dead ringer for Mr. Scrooge.

But Rep. Ray LaHood (R-Ill.) risked telling us, even though he said his wife gets Google news alerts on him and could find out. LaHood, who's retiring at the end of this Congress, is going for nostalgia. He snuck into his wife's jewelry box and took all seven of her official spouses lapel pins - American flag pins, much like the members' pins - and had them made into a bracelet. "She'll love it," he said, smiling proudly.

Spouses pins are hot this holiday season. The newest member of the Senate, John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), who was appointed in June to replace the late Sen. Craig Thomas (R-Wyo.), wanted to give his soon-to-be bride one for Christmas. But the gift has to wait until New Year's day, when Barrasso is set to marry fiancée Bobbi Brown in Wyoming.

In the "what to get the woman who has nothing" category, Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.) knows his gift will be a winner - because his wife picked it out herself during a recent weekend in New York. His wife, Jeannemarie Devolites Davis, who was defeated in her bid for re-election to the state Senate last month, picked out a pricey watch at David Yurman on Madison Ave. "It's expensive," Davis told us. "It cost me a lot more than the weekend in New York." (The gift is wrapped and under the tree.)

Most practical gift giver in Congress: Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), whose main motivation was finding peace with her directionally challenged hubby, John. She's outfitting his car with a GPS because they've been getting lost - and into arguments - when they go to parties around Washington. "He never likes to ask for directions so I thought if it was a soothing woman's voice, that would be good," Klobuchar told us yesterday. (She also got him an ice-cream maker....Shhhh, it's a secret!)

By Mary Ann Akers  |  December 19, 2007; 6:00 PM ET
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What are all these wealthy politicians personally buying for the poor?

Posted by: Peacefully | December 20, 2007 2:29 PM | Report abuse

politicians don't have to give to the poor, that's what our tax dollars are for, with a cut off the top, bottom, and middle, of course

Posted by: Anonymous | January 4, 2008 6:38 PM | Report abuse

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