‘The Tattoo Caucus’: Body art on Capitol Hill

Chris Moody
Political Reporter
The Ticket

It's a must-read story: Roll Call congressional reporter John Stanton gets the scoop on members of Congress who sport tattoos under their crisp suits and shiny lapel pins.

Apparently, there's a lot more body ink on Capitol Hill than you might think. Rep. Duncan Hunter, Republican of California, and Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., Democrat of Illinois, are working on finishing half-sleeve tats on both arms.

In what must have been a bear to report, Stanton writes:

What do Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., soccer legend David Beckham and conservative godfather Barry Goldwater have in common?

All three men have, on more than one occasion, subjected themselves to the exquisite pain of an artist putting ink to skin.

Beckham has more tattoos than most rock stars, Goldwater had Native American tribal work done on his hand and, as for Chicagoland Democrat Jackson? He has two half-sleeves nearly done, complete with portraits of his family and boyhood hero Bruce Lee.

"I believe in body art," Jackson said, explaining that he tries "to get a new tattoo every year." On tap for Jackson this year is a collage celebrating the centennial of his fraternity, Omega Psi Phi.

Tattoos are everywhere on Capitol Hill these days. Capitol Police officers have them. Reporters—including this one—do. Lula Davis, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's former right-hand floor aide, sported tattoos in the Capitol for years.

The author of the piece is well-versed in body art. A man who doesn't fit the stereotype of a typical Capitol Hill reporter, Stanton has eight tattoos himself. Standing six feet, six inches tall with a shaved head and a long, dark goatee, he roams the halls of Congress carrying his notepad and recorder with skull rings on his fingers. While interviewing some of the nation's most powerful lawmakers, Stanton—who only wears black suits—is often seen with his sleeves rolled up, showing arms covered in ink. He worked as a nightclub bouncer from 2002-2009 while in the press corps, and still moonlights for heavy metal shows in Washington, D.C.'s U Street district.

In other words, he's pretty much the perfect reporter to write the story. Read the whole thing.

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