Capitol & State

Before Bentleygate, Idaho's Casey touted as power broker by British Airways

Having been ripped last week for bad form by a Washington Post editorialist for parking his Bentley within yards of the Capitol, Greg Casey this morning passed along a more sympathetic story.

"And since you seem to find all my bad press, thought maybe a good, puffy piece may be nice to have as well," emailed Casey, passing along an article from the April issue of High Life Magazine, published by British Airways.

The story features Casey with two former presidential chiefs of staff — Reagan's Kenneth Duberstein and Clinton's Mack McLarty — as well as blogger Elizabeth Thorp.

The online version is titled "Washington's power restaurants," but doesn't include the photo, above, of Casey at one of the dining power spots, Off the Record.

Reporter Simon Kelner visits Casey — CEO of the Business Industry Political Action Committee — at his office near the White House.

Kelner draws some interesting details from Casey, a former chief of staff to retired GOP Sen. Larry Craig. I've known Casey for almost 30 years, but I don't recall knowing that he kept a logbook of everyone he met during his two years as sergeant at arms of the U.S. Senate.

"He proudly shows me the book, in which there are messages from kings, queens, prime ministers and religious leaders," writes Kelner. "Casey has made his own notes, too. (Czech President) Vaclav Havel was a 'fun guy,' and (Australian Prime Minister) John Howard was a 'fired-up kind of guy,' while his assessment of the Dalai Lama would not be considered controversial: 'A very nice man.'"

Kelner notes that Casey has met every president since Nixon and "was perfectly at ease dispensing sobriquets for them, too. Nixon: 'formal.' Ford: 'regular guy.' Carter: 'didn't get him.' Reagan: 'inspirational.' Bush: 'nice man, no pretense.' Clinton: 'he could connect with people.' George W: 'misunderstood and underrated.' Obama: 'not warm and fuzzy.'"

Kelner calls Casey "typical of a breed of Washington insider: urbane, articulate, worldly-wise, and always willing to synthesize complex issues for the uninitiated. Like McLarty, he believes the political rules of engagement have changed, and not necessarily for the better. 'This is a tough city to live in,' he says. 'The traffic and the humidity are bad enough, but it is an aggressive, uptight city. It's not as much fun as it used to be when the media had more access to politicians, and before regulations curbed lobbyists' movements. That said,' he says, 'I am not here because I love the cherry blossom in April. The city still gets my adrenaline pumping.'"

Casey is an Idaho native and has a home in Star.  

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