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McDonnell's fraternity house: One-third of governor's Cabinet members live at Omni Hotel

Anita Kumar

They've nicknamed it the fraternity house.

Just a couple of blocks from the governor's office building sits the Omni Hotel, home to five of Gov. Bob McDonnell's 15 Cabinet members.

All of them are men, all of them are married and all of them are living in the Omni until their wives and children can join them in Richmond later this year.

Secretary of EducationGerard Robinson lives there. His wife and two-year-old daughter, are still in Atlanta, where Robinson worked as president of the Black Alliance for Education Options until McDonnell recruited him to Virginia.

Then there's the four Northern Virginians: Secretary of Technology Jim Duffey, Secretary of Health and Human Resources Bill Hazel, Secretary of Commerce and Trade Jim Cheng and Secretary of Natural Resources Doug Domenech.

As you can imagine, Cabinet secretaries for the first Republican governor in eight years work long hours these days -- both getting acclimated to their new jobs and lobbying legislators on bills during the General Assembly's annual session.

Their temporary digs allow them to meet people for coffee at the hotel's always bustling Starbucks and walk to and from their offices at the Patrick Henry Building. Sometimes, if they're out and about early enough in the mornings, they run into the dozens of teenagers who serve as House and Senate pages and also live at the Omni during the legislative session.

And yes, they even admit to taking their laundry home on the weekends just as they did when they were back in college.

The 15 members of McDonnell's Cabinet who didn't already live in Richmond had little time to relocate before starting work. McDonnell asked most of them to start immediately after they were selected to be secretaries during the transition period. Hazel was the last to be named -- just hours before McDonnell's inauguration.

Eight members of the Cabinet already lived in Richmond. (Terri Suit, assistant to the governor for commonwealth preparedness, lived in Hampton Roads.)

Perhaps fittingly, the only other Northern Virginian on the Cabinet who isn't staying at the Omni is the state's new transportation secretary: Sean Connaughton, who choses to commute from Prince William County each day.

By Anita Kumar  |  March 1, 2010; 7:30 AM ET
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Robert F. McDonnell  
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Who will be the first Republican to get caught involving a page in a sexual situation? It sounds like a situation ripe for a Christopher Buckly novel.

Posted by: msjn1 | March 1, 2010 8:12 AM | Report abuse

The headline on this item betrays the Post's disdain for Republicans. "Frat House" conjurs images of wildness, drunken parties, and the like. Is the Post intimating that the married guys who comprise the Virginia governor's cabinet and live apart from their wives during the week are carrying on like that? Calling it "McDonnell's fraternity house" hints at an even more sinister operation at the same hotel where some of the teenage pages live. If it's simply a straight story, there's not much news in men from out of town staying in a hotel in the city where they have business. So what is the Post's point?

Posted by: bkalik9238 | March 1, 2010 8:17 AM | Report abuse

Bkalik9238, relax, I don't think the Post is intimating what you suggest. It is a pointless story, though that's not uncommon in the blog section. And, it's McDonnell's own staff that named it a "fraternity house", so if you are concerned with what that name suggests, you should take issue with them.

Posted by: ChrisD4 | March 1, 2010 8:26 AM | Report abuse

Quite possibly the most pointless article ever written. Congrats, WaPo ... you've done it again!

Posted by: Mike40 | March 1, 2010 8:38 AM | Report abuse

Nicccccccce. This one is getting an award

Posted by: AdamAhmed | March 1, 2010 9:09 AM | Report abuse

There was a whole lot more to this story, but the fraternity brothers barfed all over it.

Posted by: redstriped | March 1, 2010 10:18 AM | Report abuse

I'm mad I clicked the link to read this story and learn absolutely NOTHING. Thank you Post!

Posted by: aburns1975 | March 1, 2010 10:20 AM | Report abuse

Ms. Kumar:

If you want to suggest "Frat house" shenanigans (sexual/drug/etc etc etc) are going about documenting same?

Oh--why bother? You work for the POST.

I am so so so so so so tired of this. How about some REAL reporting?

Posted by: mftill | March 1, 2010 10:31 AM | Report abuse

Just compelling journalism.....

Posted by: hz9604 | March 1, 2010 10:31 AM | Report abuse

And who's paying for this hotel stay? Me and other taxpayers? Hope not.

Posted by: AHappyWarrior | March 1, 2010 10:34 AM | Report abuse

Richmond's version of "C" Street where god- fearing Huckabees can get together to pray for the President's death and a pox on his family, plan more executive orders based on homophobia and religious intolerance, and pose, primp, pretend, and pray as if they were really followers of poor old Jesus.

Posted by: coloradodog | March 1, 2010 10:51 AM | Report abuse

ohhhhhh teenage pages, too. What could be better?

Posted by: coloradodog | March 1, 2010 10:53 AM | Report abuse

I am not a fan of McDonnell at all. However, the title of this blog is VERY misleading.

Posted by: stikyfingas | March 1, 2010 10:58 AM | Report abuse

Looks like the blame can be split between the WashingtonPost and the Cabinet members. Apparently the Cabinet members themselves refer to it as the "frat house", so the unusual choice of nickname isn't something the Post conjured out of thin air.

However, it should be obvious to the writer/editor that the "frat house" moniker is completely misleading to an outside party. The fact that they chose to use it in the title of the story is a little strange.

I understand that papers need their product to be eye-catching, but this headline paints an entirely inaccurate picture.

Posted by: esocci | March 1, 2010 11:21 AM | Report abuse

You and the Washington Post should be ashamed of this article. It is not only misleading but unnecessary to be apart of this website. This paper continues to loose credibility everyday that they let people like you write terrible and misleading articles.

Posted by: kevbess | March 1, 2010 11:22 AM | Report abuse

Then there's the four Northern Virginians:

If you are going to write worthless TRASH that is void of any news value, please do so by demonstrating a certain command of the English language.

Then there ARE the four Northern Virginians:

It is debatable whether or not a contraction of THERE ARE is possible.

If you insist upon using street language in the Washington Post, THERE'RE has been suggested as a possible contraction of THERE ARE.

The only diploma I ever earned was from high school and I am not immune to making mistakes, but I have an ABC button on my computer and I don't write articles for one of the world's leading newspapers.

Posted by: properbostonian1 | March 1, 2010 11:27 AM | Report abuse

I'm a Democrat and I can't stand McDonnell, but the headline of this article is a cheap shot and the article is pointless. How is it news that newly appointed government officials are staying in hotel until they can find permanent places to live? The real story is that people actually get paid to write this junk!

Posted by: Bob22003 | March 1, 2010 12:05 PM | Report abuse

Omni - $159 a night
Motel 6 - $29 a night

Which fiscal conservative is the first to move to the nearest Motel 6?

Posted by: anarcho-liberal-tarian | March 1, 2010 12:06 PM | Report abuse

You gotta tell us who's paying for this otherwise there is nothing to this other than a slice of life story. WHO PAYS???

Posted by: Saintbridge | March 1, 2010 12:32 PM | Report abuse

Why isn't the focus on this story on the COST of housing these people at the Omni. Not only the hotel cost but also the expensing of meals, use of internet hook-up, and other incidentals. I've done enough expense reports to know that the actual cost of a hotel room is not the real cost of a prolonged stay. This was a lazy, sleezy piece of reporting.

Posted by: sue1047 | March 1, 2010 12:32 PM | Report abuse

Wow Kumar, this is the best you can do?

Posted by: lek91091 | March 1, 2010 12:33 PM | Report abuse

So Anita, I'm still trying to figure out where the "frat house" comes to play in this atricle and why the comment about them being all "men"...are you implying something here? Sounds pretty sexist to me and to the other readers although I should not be surprised coming from WaPo... ...

Posted by: mark0004 | March 1, 2010 12:41 PM | Report abuse

Anita Kumar should seriously consider employment with Teen Beat magazine.

Posted by: blackforestcherry | March 1, 2010 1:16 PM | Report abuse

If all you idiots don't like what Ms Kumar writes, then stop reading it. You're just upset because she keeps reporting on republican crap.

Posted by: Reality6 | March 1, 2010 1:16 PM | Report abuse

Fat, drunk, and neocon is no way to go through life, son.

Posted by: bs2004 | March 1, 2010 1:23 PM | Report abuse

Headline has to go. This is not difference than a bunch of business guys living in a hotel until the Relo is complete. Frat house? Doesn't sound like any Frat House I recall. At least so far.

Posted by: TheDubb | March 1, 2010 1:35 PM | Report abuse

Maybe put "Frat House" in quotes, otherwise thetitle is very misleading. Case in point - "Fat, drunk, and neocon is no way to go through life, son." See, some people are just too lazy to read the article, so they'll comment only on the title.

Posted by: futbolclif | March 1, 2010 2:18 PM | Report abuse

"Perhaps fittingly, the only other Northern Virginian on the Cabinet who isn't staying at the Omni is the state's new transportation secretary: Sean Connaughton, who choses to commute from Prince William County each day."

"Choses" to commute? Jeebus, WaPo, where are your freaking editors?! You're making your writers look like the wacko teabagger buffoons who can't spell or write in the comments that they've posted on this article.

Posted by: TomCadorette | March 1, 2010 2:25 PM | Report abuse

I agree with coloradodog - I think this article is meant to allude to that C Street goofieness.

and bs2004, thanks, that quote made me spit all over my computer screen.

Posted by: Sam888 | March 1, 2010 2:39 PM | Report abuse

The Omni huh? For someone so worried about fiscal responsibility and lowering gov't spending, you would think the Super 8 would be more appropriate.

They couldn't find long term corporate housing for these guys?

They can't find a place to live until their families decide to move?

What a waste. Make them buy a house instead of squandering more tax dollars at the Omni.

Posted by: BurtReynolds | March 1, 2010 3:58 PM | Report abuse

bs2004 - Actually if you look at Beck and Limbaugh, being fat white drunk and neocon gets you at least $40 million a year.

Posted by: anarcho-liberal-tarian | March 1, 2010 4:16 PM | Report abuse

Wow. The Omni, huh? Nice job governor. Another hypocrite Republican. Dime a dozen!

Posted by: FiatBooks | March 1, 2010 4:25 PM | Report abuse

Reality6 wrote:
If all you idiots don't like what Ms Kumar writes, then stop reading it. You're just upset because she keeps reporting on republican crap.
I like it when the Post reports on how the Republicans suck. I was just expecting a good article about an adult frat house and it ended up being a piece of SH!+. As a recent college grad, I know many qualified grads including myself who would love to have a job writing for the paper. Anita, this article sucked. The post has been putting out trash. Just look at the Salahis and all the Sh!+ that was written about them.

Posted by: AdamAhmed | March 1, 2010 4:27 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, the article was pointless. Must be a slow news day...huh?

Posted by: scrappyc20001 | March 1, 2010 4:49 PM | Report abuse

The Washington Post is competing with the AOL homepage for most sensational and misleading headline.

I smell a Pulitzer here.

Posted by: DaveGeorge1 | March 1, 2010 4:58 PM | Report abuse

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