Tag Archives: Congress

Alpha House on Amazon.com

Original Alpha House Roommates: Marty Russo, George Miller, Leon Panetta, and Chuck Schumer

Original Alpha House Roommates: Marty Russo, George Miller, Leon Panetta, and Chuck Schumer

Former Congressman Marty Russo makes a cameo appearance on Alpha House.

It’s not often you have a chance to take a trip down memory lane while hanging out at a fake wedding on an all day TV show shoot.

The hit show “Alpha House” on Amazon.com is very (very) loosely based on the house in Washington DC which I shared with three other Democratic Members of Congress: George Miller, Leon Panetta, and Chuck Schumer.  The new Alpha House is nothing like our house — they are four Republican Senators and have all sorts of strange escapades.

The original Alpha House was very focused on good politics and, as noted in this 1986 Wall Street Journal article, we used our camaraderie to build coalitions to get legislation passed.

But I have to admit it was fun to go to Long Island and make a cameo appearance in the season finale episode.  Also appearing was a good friend — Former Congressman Sam Gejdenson who actually replaced me in the house when I left Congress.  Both Sam and I had a one line cameo in the spotlight.

Joining us on the set and appearing in a separate cameo shot were MSNBC Anchor Alex Witt (as smart as she is lovely!) and Norm Ornstein (who is a master of one-liners).

It was impressive to see the chaos of what goes into filming a big scene with 300 extras and a handful of Washington types.  John Goodman and his co-stars were gracious and seemed to get a kick out of meeting some of the original Alpha House roommates.  I’ll keep you posted if my Hollywood lines make the final cut!

Alpha House Cameo

Former Congressman Marty Russo joins the cast of Alpha House for filming of the season's final episode.

[img src=http://russocapitolstrategies.com/wp-content/flagallery/alpha-house-cameo/thumbs/thumbs_rcs_alpha-house-3.jpg]Former Congressman Marty Russo and Alpha House star John Goodman
[img src=http://russocapitolstrategies.com/wp-content/flagallery/alpha-house-cameo/thumbs/thumbs_rcs_alpha-house-4.jpg]Former Congressman Marty Russo and Alpha House star Clark Johnson
[img src=http://russocapitolstrategies.com/wp-content/flagallery/alpha-house-cameo/thumbs/thumbs_img_1895.jpg]Russo at Alpha House wedding
[img src=http://russocapitolstrategies.com/wp-content/flagallery/alpha-house-cameo/thumbs/thumbs_img_1901.jpg]Cameos at Alpha House filming
[img src=http://russocapitolstrategies.com/wp-content/flagallery/alpha-house-cameo/thumbs/thumbs_img_1906.jpg]Former Congressman Sam Gejdenson and Marty Russo
[img src=http://russocapitolstrategies.com/wp-content/flagallery/alpha-house-cameo/thumbs/thumbs_img_1897.jpg]
Former Congressmen Marty Russo and Sam Gejdenson and Alpha House star Matt Malloy
[img src=http://russocapitolstrategies.com/wp-content/flagallery/alpha-house-cameo/thumbs/thumbs_rcs_alpha-house-1.jpg]
Former Congressman Sam Gejdenson, Alpha House Producer Jonathan Alter and Former Congressman Marty Russo
[img src=http://russocapitolstrategies.com/wp-content/flagallery/alpha-house-cameo/thumbs/thumbs_rcs_alpha-house-2.jpg]Former Congressman Marty Russo and MSNBC Anchor Alex Witt on the set of Alpha House
[img src=http://russocapitolstrategies.com/wp-content/flagallery/alpha-house-cameo/thumbs/thumbs_img_1899.jpg]
Former Congressman Marty Russo and Alpha House Star William Thomas Evans
[img src=http://russocapitolstrategies.com/wp-content/flagallery/alpha-house-cameo/thumbs/thumbs_img_1904.jpg]Alpha House Set
[img src=http://russocapitolstrategies.com/wp-content/flagallery/alpha-house-cameo/thumbs/thumbs_img_1902.jpg]Alpha House Set
[img src=http://russocapitolstrategies.com/wp-content/flagallery/alpha-house-cameo/thumbs/thumbs_img_1903.jpg]Alpha House Set

Putting Lesson with President George H. W. Bush

President George H. W. Bush recently celebrated his 90th birthday by jumping out of an airplane.  Former Congressman Marty Russo reminiscences about some fun times they had in the sports arena.

Seeing the Politico article about President George H. W. Bush skydiving on his 90th birthday  reminds me of what a great competitor he has always been.

Putting Lesson with VP George HW Bush and Congressman Marty Russo on Air Force Two

Putting Lesson with VP George HW Bush and Congressman Marty Russo on Air Force Two

Some of my fondest personal memories in Congress were those days when I served as the regular paddle ball partner for President George H. W. Bush.  We played as a team in the House paddle ball courts for all eight years he was Vice President and continued for the four years of his presidency.  I can tell you that he always played to win.

This reminds me of a photo taken by the official White House photographer in 1984 when I was flying on Air Force Two.  The Vice President and I were relaxing and next thing I know, the VP asked me to give him a putting lesson in the aisle of the airplane.  He was always looking to gain a competitive edge and took any opportunity to hone his game.

This scene was memorialized a couple years ago in a USA Today article titled, Golf, Politics and Presidents Prove To Be Range Bedfellows, by Steve DiMeglio.  It’s a great story of how presidents and golf intersect and ends with a quote from a good friend of mine, Republican Senator Mike Oxley.  In the article Senator Oxley is talking about how sports enabled a lot of bi-partisanship in the Congress:

 At the very least, golf provides memories. One of Oxley’s favorites occurred on Air Force Two, when he was traveling with then-Vice President George H.W. Bush and Democrat Marty Russo, one of the best golfers ever to be a member of Congress.

“The VP was moaning and groaning about his putting. So one of the Secret Service guys went down into the hole and got his putter,” Oxley says. “There we were on the plane and he’s getting a putting lesson from Russo.

“It was a great moment of bipartisanship.”

Speaking At The Sleep and Wellness Conference

The American Sleep and Breathing Academy held its Sleep and Wellness Conference 2014 in Scottsdale AZ.

My topic was “An Insider’s Guide to Influence In Washington.”

Sleep and Wellness ConferenceThis annual conference for health care professionals focused on a multi-disciplinary approach to sleep medicine.   I especially noted Member Mark Rosekind of the National Transportation Safety Board who spoke about how important it is to examine issues of operator fatigue when investigating transportation accidents.

Below are some conference photos and slides from the “Prezi” that accompanied my speech.   I enjoyed sharing insider tips on how Washington works and how lobbyists are effective.  It was fun to look at a tourist map of Washington and explain how a lobbyist views sites like The White House and the United States Capitol.

The best question from the audience asked, “How can a David can be heard in a world of  Goliath lobbyists?”   That question cut to the core of my message to audience  — you need to get involved, you can make a difference.   It can often seem as though a big lobbying operation has the money and resources to always shut out smaller interests.  But my experience is that Members of Congress in particular care more about what their constituents think.

A group with an issue like “sleep disorders” can get their message across by picking specific issues to work on and combining efforts. These efforts should be directed toward their own Members.  As we discussed, it’s important for the sleep community to establish relationships with Congress and let it be known that they want to be part of the solution.  The best way is to become a source of expertise so that when sleep issues come up, the Members already know and trust this expertise.  It was especially rewarding after the speech to hear a dental professional discuss how the sleep community might get involved to make a difference.

Sleep and Wellness

ASBA Sleep and Wellness Conference 2014, May 1-3 Scottsdale, AZ

[img src=http://russocapitolstrategies.com/wp-content/flagallery/sleep-and-wellness/thumbs/thumbs_img_0312.jpg]Marty Russo and NTSB Member Mark Rosekind
Marty Russo and NTSB Member Mark Rosekind
[img src=http://russocapitolstrategies.com/wp-content/flagallery/sleep-and-wellness/thumbs/thumbs_img_0355.jpg]Marty Russo and Roy Green
Marty Russo and Roy Green
[img src=http://russocapitolstrategies.com/wp-content/flagallery/sleep-and-wellness/thumbs/thumbs_img_0352.jpg]Dr. Richard Klein, Marty Russo, Dr. Elliott Alpher
Dr. Richard Klein, Marty Russo, Dr. Elliott Alpher
[img src=http://russocapitolstrategies.com/wp-content/flagallery/sleep-and-wellness/thumbs/thumbs_sleepmay1.jpg]Sleep and Wellness Conference - Russo Slide
Sleep and Wellness Conference
[img src=http://russocapitolstrategies.com/wp-content/flagallery/sleep-and-wellness/thumbs/thumbs_sleepmay2.jpg]Sleep and Wellness Conference - Russo Prezi Slide
Sleep and Wellness Conference - Russo Prezi Slide
[img src=http://russocapitolstrategies.com/wp-content/flagallery/sleep-and-wellness/thumbs/thumbs_sleepmay3.jpg]Sleep and Wellness Conference - Russo Prezi Slide
Sleep and Wellness Conference - Russo Prezi Slide
[img src=http://russocapitolstrategies.com/wp-content/flagallery/sleep-and-wellness/thumbs/thumbs_sleepmay4.jpg]Sleep and Wellness Conference - Russo Prezi Slide
Sleep and Wellness Conference - Russo Prezi Slide
[img src=http://russocapitolstrategies.com/wp-content/flagallery/sleep-and-wellness/thumbs/thumbs_sleepmay6.jpg]Sleep and Wellness Conference - Russo Prezi Slide
Sleep and Wellness Conference - Russo Prezi Slide

Political Speaking With Close Up Teachers

Former Congressman Marty Russo Speaks About US Politics and Government

I’m sure you have all heard of the Close Up program which brings students from all over the US to Washington to learn about our government.  On April 7 I did a little political speaking to a large room of teachers who had accompanied students from a number of states.  We talked about the keys to influence and I told them some stories about Presidents I sPresident Dwight Eisenhower Quoteerved under when I was in Congress.

A major point of discussion is that the American Federal Republic is designed to work through influence, not power.  It is a major misconception among many people that Washington DC is mainly a place for power people who tell others what to do.

The truth is that in our government, there are many checks and balances built into the system so that no one group is too powerful.  The founders of our country did not want to return to the unilateral power of the King, so they put a number of competing interests in play throughout the government.  So getting something done among all these competing interests requires influence much more than power.

I like to share a great quote from President Dwight D. Eisenhower:

Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done, because he wants to do it.

Here’s a few more of the Prezi slides from that presentation:


Lectures on Politics at Loyola Marymount University

Former Congressman Marty Russo lectures on politics, the Congress and the Presidents he served under.

It was a pleasure to visit the beautiful campus of Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, CA and talk with the students about politics, lobbying and how to make a difference in Washington.  We discussed the nature of leadership and influence and how our Democracy is designed to work through influence, not power.

Prezi on Leadership and Influence

Our Prezi on Leadership and Influence

It was fun to use a “Prezi” to take the class through the discussion that started with LMU, zoomed over to the Congress, made a side visit to the Jefferson Memorial, zoomed to The White House and then ended back at LMU.

In the Prezi slides at the Congress we talked about how many people have a misconception that our legislature works based on power — my view is that Congress works based on having influence.  The Jefferson Memorial slides offered a great place to talk about the founding of our country and the Declaration of Independence.  In the US we have a right to petition the government for a redress of grievances.  It is part of our 1st Amendment freedoms  That is the definition of what a lobbyist does.

Leadership and Public Service Award

Leadership and Public Service Award from some great LMU student leaders

The White House Prezi slides gave a good backdrop to stories about the four Presidents in office while I served in Congress.

As a product of the Jesuit educational system, I especially enjoyed ending with slides back at LMU with a discussion of “Servant Leadership.”  To be both a servant and a leader at the same time is the paradox at the basis of Jesuit education.

It was an honor to be presented with the “Leadership and Public Service Award.”