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Unmoved

"Unmoved" Continued...

Issue: "2009 Daniel of the Year," Dec. 19, 2009

All of the names floating for potential leadership are men-and historically the organization has been male-dominated. "We can do better as far as some of our leadership teams," Hall conceded. But he denied that the organization is chauvinistic, mentioning the prominent role of women like Grace Nelson, wife of Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., and Marilyn Dimock, who oversees a Fellowship inner-city ministry in southeast Washington with her husband Scott.

Anne Ryun, wife of former congressman Jim Ryun, disagrees. She thinks the organization's attitude toward women is a serious issue in regard to the C Street house, which is just blocks from the Ryun home on Capitol Hill. The Ryuns have friends in the Fellowship but have kept a distance from the organization themselves. Jim decided not to join its accountability group for congressmen when he took office in 1996. Anne moved to Washington shortly after. "We're accountable to one another," she said. The Ryuns sought church oversight by meeting with their pastor in Kansas every six to eight weeks, she said. "It appears that the Fellowship discourages congressmen to move their families to D.C. for the express purpose of keeping the wives out of the loop," she said. "It's a very, very separated world."

Ryun said that C Street house "Bible studies" often have consisted of going out to dinner or a movie. Others have pointed out that when the congressmen moved in, the grand piano was replaced with a widescreen television. The hosts and other volunteers do lawmakers' laundry and make meals.

"It's not supposed to be a frat house. If it is, and I don't think it is, it ought to be gone," Hall said.

When Hall came to Washington from Ohio, he moved his family with him: "I wanted to see them." Aside from needing the money to own two homes, lawmakers have a difficult time moving their families to the capital, he said, because the job description essentially requires that members of Congress remain connected to their home states.

Hall's Presbyterian pastor for a decade in Virginia, Jim Hutchens, worried about the families of all the lawmakers he had in his congregation at the time, before he retired several years ago. "The closer the man and the wife are together during the week-that's a built-in safety net," he said. "They need this up here. Too easily they believe their own press reports."

The Capitol Hill home on C Street, the spark of this year's controversy, continues to host lawmakers, though Sen. Ensign moved out in October because of the negative attention he was bringing the house. That might not save it.

As a former congressman, Hall understands the public-relations stink bomb the C Street house has become for lawmakers living there. "Because of the publicity, I think a lot of people will stay away from it," he said. There aren't any plans right now to close the house, he added, but if no one will move in, "it's going to be a problem."

G-Street

By Jamie Dean

Gov. Mark Sanford is less worried about C Street than Gervais Street: the Columbia, S.C., lane where South Carolina's legislature meets and a committee began debate in November over whether the governor's five-day, out-of-country disappearance to visit his Argentine mistress warrants impeachment.

That requires proof of "serious crimes or serious misconduct in office," and State Rep. Greg Delleney, a Republican and chief sponsor of a resolution to impeach Sanford, believes the governor's actions qualify. "He left his post, he left his state. He left his country without notifying anyone in authority," said Delleney. "He was AWOL as commander in chief of the organized and unorganized militia of this state." If the resolution passes by a majority in committee, it would head to the House for a floor debate in January. Meanwhile, Sanford faces 37 civil charges that he used his office for personal gain, and a State Ethics Commission found he may have violated ethics laws for travel and campaign finances.

Emily Belz
Emily Belz

Emily, who has covered everything from political infighting to pet salons for The Indianapolis Star, The Hill, and the New York Daily News, reports for WORLD from New York City. Follow Emily on Twitter @emzleb.

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