Sunday, February 26, 2006

Why does Sweeney have high Blood Pressure? "Sweeney remains in hospital for added tests First published: Friday, February 24, 2006 U.S. Rep. John Sweeney, R-Clifton Park, spent a second day and night at Albany Medical Center Hospital Thursday after suffering a yet-unexplained spike in his blood pressure on Wednesday, according to his office. In a prepared statement, Sweeney's personal physician, Dr. Anthony J. Marainello, said the congressman's blood pressure has been 'historically' controlled with medication. The spike, which occurred Wednesday after Sweeney's Port of Albany press conference with Mayor Jerry Jennings, was short-lived, a Sweeney staffer said. Sweeney spent Wednesday night in Albany Med for tests and observation. But Marainello said Thursday afternoon 'further routine testing' was needed to determine what caused the incident. The statement said Sweeney is 'alert and feels fine,' and suggested his distress might have been brought on by overwork. 'The last two months have been a challenging time for the residents of the 20th Congressional District,' Sweeney said. 'Columbia County suffered a mud slide. Saratoga, Warren, Washington, and Essex counties were blasted with a severe windstorm leaving hundreds of thousands without power for numerous days. I am sure, like myself, my constituents have felt the magnitude of these events.' The statement did not mention several other factors that might have caused Sweeney stress recently -- his challenge this fall by Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand, for example. The congressman has also been dealing with the criminal charges against his son, John J. Sweeney, 19, stemming from an August 2004 fight that sent a Stillwater man to the hospital. The younger Sweeney pleaded guilty to second-degree assault in December, but will serve no jail time. He and a friend received six-month suspended sentences, five years probation, 200 hours of community service and and an order to each pay $9,000 in restitution to the victim. The two were also granted youthful offender status, which means his record is sealed. "

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Here's Kirsten

Today's Post Star has two stories on the campaign. The opinion section features a Question and Answer session by Mark Mahoney:
Already well-funded and off to an unusually strong start for a Democrat in this district, Gillibrand got the first big front-page headlines of her fledgling campaign by calling out the congressman for his ski weekend in Utah with a group of lobbyists. During a meeting with The Post-Star editorial board last week -- her first meeting with a newspaper board since she officially began her candidacy in January -- Gillibrand continued to show she was up for a fight. Relaxed, confident and informed, her presence was a refreshing breath of air for Democrats following the well-intentioned, but disastrous, 2004 campaign waged by Mrs. Kelly. In the hour-long interview, she spoke easily about the congressman's record, what she sees wrong with it, and why she thinks the voters of the 20th Congressional District will overcome their past tendencies and send a Democrat to Congress for the first time in nearly three decades. [full story here]
And the Local Section acknowledges that the campaign has a chance. As Editor Ken Tingley says in the local story here.
The pragmatic, sensible reasoning is that Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand has about as much chance of unseating Republican Congressman John Sweeney in this district as: a. George W. Bush pulling troops out of Iraq. b. Dick Cheney taking a shooting lesson. c. Bill Clinton admitting he did have sex with that woman. d. Hillary Clinton announcing she won't run for president. That's the conventional wisdom for a 39-year-old lawyer from Albany who has never run for elective office. By September, the multiple-choice choices might be a little different. It might be framed this way: Kirsten Gillibrand has about as much chance of unseating Congressman John Sweeny as: a. O.J. getting off. b. The U.S. hockey team beating the Soviets in Lake Placid in 1980. c. The United States landing a man on the moon. d. The Red Sox finally winning a World Series.
It looks like her campaign has more than just a chance as an online poll today shows Gillibrand winning almost 58% of the vote when asked "If the election was held today, who would you vote for to represent the 20th District in the U.S. House of Representatives?" John Sweeney will be pounding the streets soon, but it might be too little too late since locals have been asking "Wheeerrrre's Johnny?" for some time now:
The only federal representative we haven't seen around these parts is Congressman Sweeney. Maybe he's resting on those 65-35 percent Election Day victories. ... Voters in this area have shown no hesitancy about throwing indifferent Republicans out of office -- as evidenced by the outcome of last month's general election. Mr. Sweeney owes it to consitutents to regularly stop by, meet with them and answer their questions. Otherwise, he may find himself on the short end of the next 65-35 election result.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Republican Finger Pointers

Today's Post Star has an article on the race here. The Clifton Park Republican Party planned and paid for an attack mailing, which claims Kirsten defended Enron executives. Not only is the piece a lie, but they knew it was not true when they printed it. Kirsten addressed this charge as early as February 1st. Her law firm taking on a client doesn't mean that she defended that client. Since more than two thirds of the money that Enron gave went to Republicans, it seems a rather odd charge to bring up in the campaign, don't you think? Enron was a big giver to George W. Bush.
Between 1989 and 2001, Enron contributed nearly $6 million to federal parties and candidates, more than two-thirds to Republicans. More than $2 million of that money came during the 1999-2000 election cycle alone, when the company became one of the biggest boosters to President Bush’s campaign for the White House. Enron’s PAC and its employees contributed $114,000 to Bush during the 2000 campaign, while former Enron CEO Kenneth Lay served as one of Bush’s Pioneers, individuals who raised at least $100,000 for the campaign. (
A letter to the editor echoing the Republican charges from a Sweeney supporter has already been published. It is Kirsten that is running for office not a law firm. Sweeney supporters better watch out when the try to link Gillibrand with Enron. John Sweeney took $3,000 from Enron's Accounting Firm's PAC Arthur Anderson. (source) They were responsible for the lost jobs, stock market and pension fund losses and corporate greed which the writer calls "baggage." I guess it is true, whenever you point a finger at someone there are more fingers that point back at you.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Sweeney - Gillibrand Battle makes it to the New York Times

Democrats Try to Tie Upstate Congressman to Washington G.O.P. Scandals: "By RAYMOND HERNANDEZ
Published: January 31, 2006
WASHINGTON, Jan. 30 —New York Democrats, hoping to oust an influential Republican congressman from upstate New York, are questioning his ties to lobbyists in the wake of the lobbying corruption scandal hanging over Capitol Hill.
The Democrats are seizing on reports that the congressman, John E. Sweeney of the Albany area, recently organized a $2,000-a-person 'Skiing with Sweeney' weekend getaway attended by lobbyists at a ski resort in Park City, Utah, as well as a dinner at the home of Jeffrey Kimbell, a pharmaceutical industry lobbyist.
The Democrats who have attacked Mr. Sweeney in newspaper interviews, news releases and a satirical Internet advertisement are arguing that his actions reflect a larger culture of corruption that has enveloped Washington under Republican rule. The attacks notwithstanding, he has not been implicated in any troubles that have touched other Republicans.
'A scandal is brewing in Washington, D.C.,' the narrator in the Internet ad declares. 'So it is worth asking: What is our congressman doing to fix this mess? He's going skiing. In Utah. With lobbyists.'
The attacks, which have escalated in recent days, have provoked the Sweeney camp into striking back, suggesting that the congressman and his advisers are slightly unsettled. Specifically, the Sweeney camp has taken aim at Kirsten Gillibrand, a Democrat who is seeking to unseat him and whose campaign has helped orchestrate many of the attacks.
Melissa Carlson, a Sweeney spokeswoman, suggested hypocrisy on Ms. Gillibrand's part, pointing out that she is the daughter of Douglas Rutnik, an Albany lobbyist who is close to Gov. George E. Pataki.
Ms. Carlson also defended the trip to Utah, noting that Mr. Kimbell, the pharmaceutical lobbyist, represents two companies that employ more than 2,000 people in the congressman's district and that Mr. Sweeney was discussing economic development efforts with him.
Ms. Carlson also noted that Mr. Sweeney had used his influence and seniority in Congress to secure aid for his district and for the rest of the state, and that he played a crucial role in fighting for $20 billion in reconstruction aid for New York City after the 9/11 attack.
'We don't have to attack her,' Ms. Carlson said of Ms. Gillibrand. 'My boss has a record of achievement to run on.'
The attacks on Mr. Sweeney come as New York Democrats say they plan to use the fallout over the lobbying scandal in Washington as an issue to mount vigorous challenges against Mr. Sweeney and other Republicans they consider too close to Republican leaders on the Hill.
Interestingly, Mr. Sweeney has taken part in an effort to force new elections on Capitol Hill to replace most of the Republican leaders in the aftermath of the lobbying scandal.
In calling for House elections, Mr. Sweeney and his allies believe that leadership changes in the House should go beyond Representative Tom DeLay of Texas, who recently abandoned his effort to remain majority leader amid pressure from Republican colleagues jittery about an election-year lobbying scandal.
Mr. DeLay, who had temporarily stepped aside after being indicted on state charges in Texas, made his decision after the lobbyist Jack Abramoff, a former DeLay ally, pleaded guilty to corruption charges in a case that could also involve other former senior DeLay aides.
In a letter being circulated to Republican House members, Mr. Sweeney and a colleague, Representative Dan Lundgren of California, argued that Republicans 'must seize this opportunity to regain the trust the American public placed in us.'
But Democrats say that Mr. Sweeney's fund-raising event in Utah suggests that he is not genuinely committed to reform.
In an interview, Ms. Gillibrand accused Mr. Sweeney of being 'part of the problem in Washington.'
'My concern is that he is on a junket with representatives of the pharmaceutical industry listening to their concerns when he should be back in the district listening to our concerns,' she said. But even Democrats agree that Ms. Gillibrand has an uphill battle in the heavily Republican district.
Yes, but a district that went for Spitzer (who's endorsed her today) and Schumer.

Nothing really helps finish off an image like the details

Sweeney campaign pays $1,106 for cigars: "


Updated: 2/2/2006 10:03:16 PM

U.S. Rep. John Sweeney was passing out fine cigars, as he raked in cash at a fundraiser in Saratoga Springs last year.

Sweeney's campaign paid $1,106 to the Pacific Cigar Co. of Lemont, Ill. on Oct. 3, according to the campaign's latest finance report filed with the Federal Election Commission this week.

Pacific Cigar Co. products are produced in the Philippines, Indonesia, Dominican Republic and Ecuador from fine tobacco intended to appeal to 'the most discriminating cigar aficionado,' according to the company's Web site.

The company's silk cigar bands date back to a tradition started by Catherine II of Russia.

The cigars were handed out to attendees at the Congressman's annual event in Saratoga Springs, said spokeswoman Melissa Carlson.

The cigars were one of the smaller expenditures by Sweeney's campaign, which as of Dec. 31 had spent $575,168 in the current election cycle, which began Jan.1, 2005.

Kirsten Gillibrand, his potential Democratic opponent, reported spending $84,521.

Complete finance reports for the two candidates can be accessed through The Post-Star's free Web site at

Sweeney reported raising a total of $780,454 and had a balance of $710,059 as of Dec. 31.

Gillibrand, who began raising money in late summer, reported raising a total of $370,680 and had a balance of $286,158 as of Dec. 31.

The majority of money raised by both candidates over the past three months came from outside the congressional district.

Sweeney reported $107,080 in itemized contributions from addresses outside the district over the past three months, while $2,750 came from inside the district.

Gillibrand reported $208,749 in itemized contributions from addresses outside the district over the past three months and $13,310 from addresses inside the district."

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Thursday, February 02, 2006

Kirsten's announcement at Shaver-Hill Farm

A modestbut enthusiastic crowd turned out to meet Kirsten at the farm on Feb. 1. Her speech was very warmly recieved by atcivists and neighbors alike. Garnering special applause were her positions on healthcare, the need for more district-reponsive representation, and the morass in Iraq. Several people from the press were there, so you should be able to read about it in today's Oneonta Star and then next issue of the Mountain Eagle. Aside from my own delight in both the polish and the content of Kirsten's speech, I was moved by the real concern of so many to do something about the State of the Nation. Here, with Kirsten speaking against the dramatic background of the great syrup evaporator was American politics at its' best; patriotic folks getting together to do the right thing.

Bad week for Johnny Boy?

First, Kirsten Launches her campaign with an endorsement from Spitzer:

Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand officially kicked off her campaign Tuesday to oust U.S. Rep. John Sweeney, R-Clifton Park, from his seat in the 20th Congressional district.

She announced her bid in her hometown of Hudson and again later at Canfield Casino in Saratoga Springs.

'I am here to launch my campaign to bring accountable government and honest leadership back to Washington,' Gillibrand said. 'Our system of government -- our democracy -- is built on a foundation of trust. Today, that foundation is cracked. I am running this campaign to earn your trust and help repair that foundation.'

Gillibrand said she has heard from many families throughout the district that are 'deeply dissatisfied and distressed about the direction our country is headed and with the leaders taking us there.'

She highlighted the high cost of healthcare, rising energy prices and the 'insiders in Washington,' who are 'too busy working for special interests to spend time working for us.'

Gillibrand chose Saratoga Springs to make her second announcement because of its Democratic sweep in the November elections.

'Saratoga Springs is an exciting place to be right now,' she said. 'The residents here are committed to changing how government works.'

Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, Democrat front-runner for the 2006 race for governor, added his endorsement to that of Saratoga Springs Mayor Valerie Keehn, who briefly spoke of her own commitment to putting people first and special interests second.

While Sweeney's lackies have to post phoney astroturf protests of the event, according to this email:
Sorry for the very late notice. Congressman Sweeney's campaign staff has asked us for help in turning out some people for an 11:00 AM rally at the Canfield Casino in Saratoga Springs on Tuesday, Jan. 31st. At that time, his probable opponent, Kirsten Gillibrand, will be making her formal campaign announcement there. The Congressman's staff feel it is important that we start carrying the fight to her immediately, which is why we need to have as many folks as possible show up to help out. We will have some signs available, along with a press release from the campaign. We will meet across the street from the Casino in Congress Park in downtown Saratoga. We know it's often difficult to get hard-working Republicans to take time off from their jobs to help out, but the Congressman is counting on Saratoga County to play a key role in this year's campaign. This rally is our first opportunity to show the media and the Dems that this election year, Saratoga County is Sweeney Country. If you have any questions, please contact Sweeney For Congress Campaign Director Chris Nedwick at the Campaign HQ at 371-2230, or County Coordinator Steve Bulger at 369-2847, or County GOP HQ at 584-7900. Sweeney For Congress '06 Campaign Team MEETING PLACE WILL BE 11AM IN PARKING LOT BY THE BEN & JERRY'S ACROSS FROM THE PARKING GARAGE AND RIGHT ACROSS THE STREET FROM THE CAROUSEL IN CONGRESS PARK

Then Sweeney's play-acting of being a reformer gets axed by the house leadership:

House GOP kills Sweeney's reform effort: WASHINGTON Representative John Sweeney's effort to get new elections for all House G-O-P leaders died on a 107-to-85 vote by Republicans seeking to defuse a growing congressional corruption scandal."

And now Sweeney has to vote against the GOP leadership on the budget. For a guy whose power consists mostly of kissing up to those above him, he's not doing well. Do you suppose he's sleeping ok these days?