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Eva and the Arts As the cameras rolled and clicked around her, Eva Longoria — graced in a dark-colored, hip-hugging skirt and fitted jacket — confessed to reporters last Wednesday that she was once the ugly duckling in her family. The “Desperate Housewives” co-star and international spokeswoman for L’Oreal Paris has blossomed into not only a symbol of beauty but also a voice for Latinos on issues such as immigration, education, and health care. “I’ve always been interested in representing my community before I was a celebrity,” she told reporters. “It was a natural path for me.” Longoria shared her story of success and transformation with others at the Capital Hilton during the Latino Leaders luncheon series given by the Latino Leaders Network, a nonprofit organization aiming to promote the social and economic advancement of the Latino community. The series, hosted by lobbying firm Mickey Ibarra & Associates, focused on the representation of Latinos in the arts and entertainment fields. Representatives from the National Hispanic Media Coalition and Nielsen Media Research discussed the role of Latinos on television shows and the power they have in numbers to effect greater change in front of and behind the camera, especially in executive-level positions. “We can celebrate the notion that we have Latinos on TV, but we have such a long way to go,” said Alex Nogales, president and chief executive of the National Hispanic Media Coalition. — Osita Iroegbu
Bad Seeds The money trail that many Washington lobbyists follow may be a golden incentive for working in what has, to some, become a more questionable craft. But the hits that the industry keeps taking every time a scandal (or investigation into one) pops up, begs the question, “Is it worth it?” According to a recent finding, it’s clear that lobbying iconoclasts are giving the country’s influence business a bad name around the world. Transparency International’s 2006 Corruption Perception Index shows the global perception of corruption — that is, when political elites “launder, store and otherwise profit from unjustly acquired wealth” — within the United States is worsening. The United States ranks 20th in the list of 163 countries — tied with Belgium and Chile. Transparency International, which holds anti-corruption conventions, is a global, nonpartisan organization that challenges what it calls “the inevitability of corruption.” The lobbying world landed on wobbly stilts after �ber lobbyist Jack Abramoff’s conviction on fraud and money-laundering charges. ( Abramoff reported to prison in western Maryland on Wednesday to serve almost six years on charges of committing fraud in a Florida deal to buy casino ships.) Then there was the indictment of former Ohio congressman Robert Ney (R) who admitted that he took official action on behalf of Abramoff’s clients in exchange for lavish gifts. And former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) is under investigation in Texas on money laundering and conspiracy charges stemming from a campaign finance investigation. Also, the Justice Department is looking into whether Rep. Curt Weldon (R-Pa.) used his influence to help his daughter’s lobby shop. — Osita Iroegbu
And Then There’s Morou It was an intentionally quiet restaurant opening for chef Morou Ouattara, former chef at Jack Abramoff’s Signatures restaurant. FarrahOlivia Restaurant, named after Morou’s daughter, opened for dinner Nov. 7 in Alexandria, Va. The menu pays homage to Ouattara’s Ivory Coast roots with dishes like Korobuta pork with pork-rind tandoori and chocolate merlot. The official opening will be Nov. 26. Quattara gained some notoriety after beating out several revered Washington chefs to compete on the “Iron Chef America” show against Iron Chef Bobby Flay. (Secret ingredient: frozen peas; winner: Flay.) — Joe Crea
• AFTER DARK • Art of the Deal Democratic lobbyists Anthony Podesta of PodestaMattoon and his wife, Blank Rome’s Heather Podesta, have donated 27 contemporary photographs this year from their private collection to the Corcoran Gallery of Art. The exhibit “ Sight/Insight: Contemporary Photography from the Heather and Tony Podesta Collection,” featuring photography from Tatiana Antoshina, Chan Chao, and Margi Geerlinks, is on view through January 2007. The images are from the Podestas’ vast art collection, which includes more than 2,000 pieces of photography, video, and sculpture. “For us, collecting art is our outlet from lobbying and politics, and it’s something we have great fun with,” says Heather Podesta, who declined to share how much the collection is worth. “Several of these pieces were hanging in our house this year, and for them now to be hanging in one of Washington’s premier museums is very exciting.” Paul Roth, curator of photography and media arts at the Corcoran, says the Podestas have been donating to the museum for the past 10 years. Last year, Heather Podesta joined the advisory board of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, a Venetian museum that is home to early 20th century European and American art. She told Influence last year that she travels to Venice 10 times a year. She also serves on the Board of Trustees for the National Museum of Women in the Arts and the Committee on New Works at the Hirshhorn Museum. — Joe Crea
• HEARD ON THE STREET • • “The bottom line for the business community on the 2006 elections is this: We will continue to work with and support members of the new Congress from both sides of the aisle who favor pro-business legislation, and we remain optimistic about implementing our members’ agenda.” — Thomas Donohue, president, U.S. Chamber of Commerce (Logistics Management) • “The core constituencies of the Democratic Party have pent-up wish lists — you can start with the AFL-CIO and move on to the trial lawyers. A lot of work will have to be done to stop that stuff.” — Dirk van Dongen, president, National Association of Wholesale Distributors, on working with a bipartisan slate of lobbyists after the midterm elections (The Washington Post) • “There’s quite a lot of nationalist rhetoric talking about protecting jobs. The risk there is that we could see more of an economic showdown both in the United States and elsewhere, and that could have an economic impact on Canada.” — David Stewart-Patterson of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives on the importance of preserving existing trade relations between Canada and the United States (“CBC News”)

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