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Right On: Capitol Hill Republicans

The Young, Conservative Cigar Caucus of Capitol Hill Is Celebrating Its Newfound Power with Plenty of Cigars
Alejandro Benes
From the Print Edition:
Arnold Schwarzenegger, Summer 96

(continued from page 3)

Interestingly, no one has mentioned Alexander. What happened to Lamar? "People confused him with Forrest Gump, walking around all over in plaid shirts," Lassiter says, evoking laughter.

Listening to these staff members, many of whom work 70 hours a week, you'd get the impression that all they do is talk politics and, of course, smoke cigars. Matter of fact, it's possible that the most dangerous place to be on Capitol Hill is not between a member of Congress and a television camera, but between Katherine Hazeem and a cigar. A staffer on the House Judiciary Committee, Hazeem just returned from a fact-finding visit to Cuba, where she looked into property rights and future claims by Cuban exiles. While there, Hazeem further confirmed her love of cigars, which she started smoking at these gatherings. "It's very relaxing at the end of the week to sit and smoke cigars," she says as she puts an Arturo Fuente Hemingway Signature to her lips. "It's tough to get into politics," she says unconvincingly.

The reality is that politics, and cigars, have shaped important parts of Hazeem's life. She has been attracted to cigars ever since her grandfather smoked them before Sunday dinners in Pittsburgh. Hazeem, who attended Oral Roberts University and Catholic University Law School, says she formed her political beliefs "through a process of progressively confronting reality...I used to be a lot more liberal." She takes a puff. "To me, conservatism means there's more than just meets the eye. You have to delve more deeply into some of the issues, because some of the liberal solutions are more attractive: 'People are poor, they don't have money, give them more money.' But when you come right down to it, that's not really going to help people, so it's taken a process of years for me to think about what will really work and the proper role of government and what will really help people and not just what makes you feel good."

Lehman, Hazeem's beau, shares her fundamental conservative views and relates that his outlook was formed while growing up in Orange County, California. "The liberal political philosophy strikes me as being more emotion than intellect; I'm much more attracted to conservative philosophy, especially that which deals with personal responsibility and limited government and that type of thing," Lehman says. "I've sort of always grown up with it, got away from it briefly, but came back to it pretty quickly." He started smoking cigars while attending Loyola Law School in Los Angeles.

Hazeem feels good about having found someone who is a Republican who works in Congress and, most importantly, who accepts that she smokes cigars. "David and I were at a St. Patrick's Day celebration at Murphy's in Old Town Alexandria," Hazeem recalls. "And I thought, 'This is a cute guy.' And I kinda knew him. We had left the bar and were going to find a place to eat and we were standing outside and we started talking and he said these words, which I thought was the greatest come-on line of all time--I figured he had completely researched who I was and my background--he said: 'I play golf. I drink Scotch. I smoke cigars and I'm Anglican.' And I thought, 'Well, this is obviously the man for me.'

"You knew I did all those things, I believe," she says to Lehman.

"Well, like Pat Buchanan," Lehman answers, "I believe in my convictions so I didn't just say that in order to, uh..."

Hazeem rescues him, "But I thought it was the greatest come-on line of all time. Because I thought I would never find a man who would think it was OK for me to smoke cigars. I thought this was something I'd have to give up."

"As long as she buys them, it's fine for her to smoke," Lehman says, making clear that aid to staffers with cigar dependencies is not in the Contract With America.

Cigars have always been linked to politics for Marc Lampkin. "I had my first real cigar when I was a sophomore in college," says Lampkin, who attended Holy Cross College in Massachusetts. "A friend of mine, who's actually from a well-known liberal family, had some very good cigars and a bunch of us...."

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