Saturday, April 29, 2006

Frat Story

The Post Star's story today was sure to include one of the more flattering images of John Sweeney's drunken fiasco. Unlike the NY Times, which used a picture that demonstrates why (in spite of the spin) many believe the students are telling the truth - that Sweeney was intoxicated. Though there are two students who are claiming that the story in the college paper was exaggerated, one of them is the son of a local republican town board member, so some partisans would say that even if Sweeney had to be scraped up of the floor and dragged home. Though the story admits:
John Tomlin, who reported the story, said he was not politically motivated. "The story is not that it was a Republican on campus. It is that there was a congressman on campus," he said. Tomlin said he based his report on accounts of seven or eight students who attended the party, including two who were named in the article. Tomlin said he personally saw Sweeney outside the fraternity house on his way into the party, and the congressman appeared intoxicated. Tomlin said Sweeney's speech was slurred and he was loud and was cursing.

It seems odd to me that though the story was first reported by the school's independent newspaper, even the NYT has taken up the conservative view that democrats somehow are responsible for this story.

Of course Dems are going to talk about it once it is reported. But we didn't create this story. John Sweeney created it by doing something that doesn't seem very "representative" to people who live here.

And don't we all know that if it had been Gillibrand who looked like this in a photo and who students claimed were drunk, Sweeney and Carlson would be the first ones in line to say that it was irresponsible. This man has the wrong priorities, this is just one more example of it. Plain and simple.

Can you just imagine if it were Senator Clinton in those photos? Rush Limbaugh and Bill O Liely would have hourly updates on the progress of a Republican led voter recall initiative to have her replaced. Come on, you know it is true.

This is another example of the double standard of reporting by biased media like Fox News and The NY Post who ignore stories that portray a Republican in an unflattering light. Instead of doing what they should do: reporting the same way for any party or candidate.

Forbes quotes Sweeney saying, "If I'd known going to a frat house would get me that much attention I would have done it earlier," he joked, adding that he went to another area college Friday to accept an award.

Doi, Mr. Sweeney, it is not that you went to a frat house, or a college, it is that you were drunk. With students. It isn't appropriate.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Please Make the Room Stop Spinning!

The Sweeney Spinners really take the cake. We can see the man is intoxicated with our own eyes, yet instead of taking responsibility, they basically call the students liars:
Carlson said Sweeney, R-Clifton Park, did attend the party at the Alpha Delta Phi fraternity house on April 22, but she insisted he did not drink alcohol while there and was not intoxicated, as the student newspaper's story reported. "Anything else is categorically untrue," she said.
And though they weren't there and didn't see the pictures, of course the story's got the GOP rushing in with their Denial ain't just a river in Egypt defense:
Area Republican leaders said they doubted Sweeney was intoxicated at the party. "I don't think John would put himself in that public position," said Washington County Republican Chairman John Aspland.
Well, here's a reality check for you guys: he did! And if it weren't for the pictures maybe someone might fall for all your spin and blind faith. The TU Blog reports in a Second O'SPINion that Sweeney's friend, the Geppetto's bar owner is claiming that, "Sweeney had “half a glass of wine and a Stromboli at my place”' And Sweeney "did not drink anything at the Alpha Delta Phi house..."

Now, I am woman enough to admit that I enjoy a glass of wine at dinner and even the occasional chocolate martini say at my birthday party. But I've never seen anyone look that drunk after just a half a glass of wine. Seems to me that Lichorat and Carlson are the ones what are guilty of "untruths" here not the students. And shame on them for that!

In fact, seems like the students have more sense than Sweeney and his supporters do, the student paper reported sophomorere Doug Richardson saying:

I think that it can be a very harmful career decision seeing how there was underage drinking going on at the party. ... Furthermore, I think that congressmen, in general, should have a certain amount of respect for their position in our country's government and drinking with students at a college fraternity party is not the best way to display that respect.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Hey John, wanna have a drink?

Photo taken 4/22/06, in other words, last Friday night.

From the Times Union Blog.

Never Ceases to Amaze

I'll say one thing, John Sweeney never ceases to amaze me (another trait he has in common with the George W. Bush). And I don't mean that he amazes me in a good way, it is in an "I can't believe you'd want to stop a vote recount in my democratic country" way. Most recent jaw dropper: considering his family history, it certainly seems like he is no body to attack another person's family. But that is just what he's done today. See the Post Star story here. Which ends on a positive note about Gillibrand's ideas about how to solve the gas problem:
Gillibrand said the federal government should temporarily suspend gas taxes as a short-term solution while embarking on a comprehensive effort to develop alternative energy. "It has to be on the level of when John F. Kennedy said, 'Let's put a man on the moon,'" she said.
I guess when you can't run on your record because you've voted against:
  • alternative energy
  • increasing fuel effeciency standards (just like the automakers wanted you to)
  • a bill that in your own words "would establish new standards to combat price gouging"
and you can't hide from the fact that you've taken $120,000 in campaign contributions from oil companies all you can do is attack and pretend that a person's brother has something to do with this campaign. Gillibrand's brother's gas station isn't even in this district! Sweeney's responses to the facts here show that he's voted against many of the energy bills just because they were supported by Democrats not because they were the wrong bills. And often he claims to have voted against something because it didn't do enough. Hello?!?! Doing something today and doing more tomorrow is better than doing nothing at all.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Sweeney: if Democrats are "going to spend their time in my district, they're wasting their time"

Ending a piece in USA Today about the Demcoratic plans for the Northeast, Sweeney shows some swagger & some BS.

Democrats focus House hopes in Northeast

Posted 4/23/2006 8:38 PM ET

By Andrea Stone, USA TODAY

The district U.S. Rep. John Sweeney represents, sprawling from the Adirondack Mountains to the New York City suburbs, has always been Republican territory. Voters there twice chose George W. Bush for president but never backed Franklin Roosevelt, a local Hyde Park boy.

For Democratic challenger Kirsten Gillibrand, however, the Upstate New York district is a land of opportunity and a key to her party's strategy for gaining control of the House of Representatives.

"There's a shift happening right now in the district and the region," says Gillibrand, 39, a lawyer and a former Clinton administration housing official. "People want new leaders who are accountable."

Gillibrand is among more than a dozen Democratic candidates in New York, Connecticut and Pennsylvania who hope to turn the region's pockets of red — House districts held by Republicans — to blue. The region, where John Kerry beat Bush handily in 2004, is fertile ground for Democrats to pick up many of the 15 seats they need to regain House control.

"If there is a (Democratic) wave this year and it's going to hit anywhere, it's the Northeast," says Amy Walter, analyst at the non-partisan Cook Political Report. "That is where Bush's weakness is felt."

The regional focus mirrors the approach used by Republicans in 1994 when they capitalized on dissatisfaction with President Clinton's failed health care plan to target Democrats in the South, an area already tilting their way. Republicans picked up 52 House seats, with their biggest gains in the South, and ended 40 years of Democratic rule.

Now Democrats hope to do the reverse in the Northeast. Dartmouth University political scientist Linda Fowler says the "most ominous" signs for Republicans there are the disenchantment of independent voters and fiscal conservatives who are fed up with deficit spending by Congress. The GOP must also contend with the historical tendency of the party that controls the White House to lose congressional seats in the middle of a second presidential term.

Sarah Chamberlain Resnick, executive director of the moderate Republican Main Street Partnership, which includes several Northeastern lawmakers, says the GOP faces several challenges: "The president's numbers, the war in Iraq, the famous six-year itch. There's a lot of things that are around this."

Ed Patru of the House GOP campaign committee acknowledges "the atmospherics are not great" but says Democrats underestimate incumbents. "We're so optimistic, despite the national mood, because we understand that races are fundamentally about local issues."

Though Democrats are targeting seven Republican-held seats in New York, Hamilton College political scientist Philip Klinkner says most of the incumbents will be tough to beat. Democrats may have a reasonable shot to win the seat of retiring Rep. Sherwood Boehlert and to oust Sweeney.

Independent political analyst Stuart Rothenberg says Gillibrand is an underdog but poses "a reasonable possibility for an upset." She had raised $716,000 through March 31, compared with Sweeney's $1.1 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks money in politics.

Sweeney, 50, has battled recent medical problems, has been the subject of charges from Gillibrand and others of being too cozy with drug company lobbyists, and has been scrutinized for having paid his wife commissions to do fundraising for him. But Larry Bulman, Democratic chairman of Saratoga County, says Sweeney's "biggest problem is he is so close to President Bush." Pollster John Zogby found that just one in three New Yorkers say Bush is doing a good job.

Sweeney says his health is improving, dismisses ethics charges as unfounded and says polls don't reflect his district, where registered Republicans outnumber Democrats by more than 80,000. Though he says the New York GOP is "in disarray" and there are vulnerable House Republicans, he insists he isn't one of them.

He says he's an independent who isn't afraid to take on the Bush administration, such as for funding for post-9/11 rebuilding and Hudson River dredging. He accuses Democrats of overreaching.

"They get a good mark for effort," Sweeney says of the Democrats' Northeast strategy. "But if they're going to spend their time in my district, they're wasting their time."

Of course, Sweeney is the furthest thing from an independent, voting 92% of the time with disgraced Tom DeLay. Sweeney is a tool of the radical fringe of the GOP and the big lobbyists, like pharmaceuticals & energy.

He deserves to go because upstate New Yorkers are not that kind of people.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The only other Congressman whose wife takes a commission for fundraising

So, the only other congressman whose wife skims off fundraising has hired a lawyer:
"Did Doolittle Lawyer Up?
By Justin Rood - April 17, 2006, 5:14 PM

Did Rep. John Doolittle (R-CA) lawyer up as a result of the spreading Abramoff scandal?

Just three weeks after fallen superlobbyist Jack Abramoff agreed to cooperate with prosecutors, Doolittle's 2006 campaign committee cut a $10,000 payment for 'legal fees' to the firm of Williams Mullen, government records show."
Wonder if Ole' Sweeney is shopping around for counsel, too?

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Sweeney, too!

Josh Marshall points out that Rep Doolittle of California skims 15% off his fund raising. Sweeney, of course is some kind of loser piker because he only takes 10%.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Sweeney is a tool of the Bush-Delay Machine

But we already knew this:
"What can we learn from this? One thing is crystal clear: John Sweeney plays politics with the lives of brave American soldiers. When the Republican leadership instructed him to vote against a resolution authorizing President Clinton to stop a genocide, Sweeney did as any good rubber stamp Republican would: he did as told. Not surprisingly, Sweeney voted precisely the same way as Tom DeLay."
Read the whole thing. Then pass the word.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Weak, weak

so the Swing State Project says:
And some news on Sweeney's challenger, Kirsten Gillibrand: She's actually announced her 1Q totals early, and she hauled in an impressive $345,000. That's quite a lot, especially for a challenger, and especially when you consider that Sweeney's only raised $368K in the same time-frame. For an incumbent - on the all-powerful Approriations Committee, no less - to pull in only $20K more than a challenger is weak, weak.

Cool! Sweeney in the Sacramento Bee

Oh, wait, it's not so cool, if you're Sweeney.

You see, Sweeney is only one of two members of Congress who allows his spouse to skim off fundraising.

Editorial: Doolittle must lead by example on ethics debate -
" Published 2:15 am PDT Sunday, April 9, 2006
Story appeared in Forum section, Page E6

As a member of the House leadership team, Rep. John Doolittle, R-Rocklin, should be setting an ethical tone in Congress.

Yet Doolittle's pushing the envelope continues to prompt questions about just how separate his campaign funds are from his family's enrichment. The law says candidates may not divert campaign funds to personal use. It names a wide range of prohibited uses: household items, funeral expenses, housing payments, for example. Salary payments to family members are prohibited - unless they are no more than the fair market value of bona fide campaign services.

Sell It Yourself

The rules say nothing about commission payments to family members - and that is where Doolittle has pushed the envelope. His wife gets a 15 percent commission on contributions that come to his campaign committees. News accounts to date find only one other member of Congress doing this. John Sweeney, R-N.Y., pays his wife a 10 percent commission for campaign fundraising.

Both men serve on the Appropriations Committee, so donors practically throw themselves at their doors hoping political contributions will win face-to-face access. A fundraiser doesn't have to do much.

Commission payments going directly into the household income of the Doolittles and Sweeneys skirt the spirit of the law. Some other members of Congress - about 50, according to news accounts - have family members on their campaign payrolls. But news accounts to date find only Doolittle and Sweeney giving their wives a percentage of political donations. Doolittle cannot say 'everybody does it.' He and Sweeney are outliers.

The Doolittle camp claims that the Federal Election Commission 'put its official stamp of approval on such arrangements' in a 2001 advisory opinion. Not true. The FEC ruling referred only to 'salary payments,' not commissions, and made it clear that a family member must have the qualifications of a bona fide professional. Most important, the contract must conform to 'standard industry practice' between paid consultants and candidate committees. That is the crux of the matter.

Does Julie Doolittle have fundraising experience and expertise? Where is the record that she is doing or has done fundraising for other political campaigns? We don't see it. She set up her business, Sierra Dominion Financial Solutions, just two months after her husband won a seat on the Appropriations Committee.

Does her 15 percent commission conform to standard industry practice? In 2004, Doolittle's opponent raised only $2,300 and won only 35 percent of the vote. For that kind of race, a paid fundraiser is hardly necessary. Yet Doolittle amassed more than $1 million in contributions. Were the Doolittles driving up contributions to benefit the family income more than to thwart an underfinanced opponent?

Fundraisers do not typically work on commission. The trend is toward a fee, based on the difficulty of the campaign.

Doolittle may have found ambiguity in the law that allows him to get around the prohibition on personal enrichment. But his 15 percent arrangement is unseemly.

Campaign contributions are supposed to help candidates win elections, not line their pockets. In this post-Tom DeLay era, Doolittle needs to show ethical leadership by example and end this unacceptable practice."
Well, if you count the 10% Sweeney's wife got, then Kirsten netted about the same as Sweeney.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Sweeney is the SEVENTH largest recipient of money from lobbyists in the House (right behind TOM DELAY)

Did you know that according to, out of all 435 house members, John Sweeney is the SEVENTH largest recipient of money from lobbyists, right behind Tom Delay? Here's the link. (John Sweeney is listed as 18 because it includes both House AND Senate members) Gillibrand ought to REALLY make a BIG issue out of this one. Do the people in this district really want somebody representing them who is beholden to certain groups which probably don't have Eastern Upstate NY's best interests in mind? I suggest we all start writing letters to the local newspapers (Post-Star, Times Union, Gazette, Record, Saratogian, etc.) and keep repeating "John Sweeney is the seventh highest recipient of money from lobbyists in the House, right behind Tom Delay" until every voter in NY-20 practically has this line practically memorized.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Sad but True News

Whatever you want to call them: Red-faced extremists, the Radical Wrong, they are desperate. And desperate times call for desperate measures. I'm pretty sure that this article will not stop the GOP attack machine. It has already generated lots of letters to the paper claiming it is biased in this race, but the paper is right this time. Yeah and as the saying goes, "The truth hurts."
GOP blunders won't help Sweeney's re-election bid Our view: Republicans should be red with embarrassment over conduct.

Published on 4/5/2006 Editorials THE POST-STAR

If Republicans don't want to lose their local seat in Congress, then Rep. John Sweeney is going to have to find a way to wrest the stupid pills away from some of his more outspoken supporters. These supporters' ham-handed attempts to brand political neophyte Kirsten Gillibrand as a Commie and a carpetbagger are hurting the congressman's chances for what should be an easy re-election bid. Voters of this district deserve a real campaign, based on a legitimate debate over issues. Phony attempts like this to discredit an opponent not only hurt the candidate, but insult the voters' intelligence and denigrate the entire office. Whether you support Congressman Sweeney or not, whether you agree with his positions or not, or whether you think he spends too much time skiing with lobbyists or not, he certainly has a record he could defend in a fair fight with a worthy opponent. He has carried the ball in Congress on a number of important local projects, including the Exit 18 corridor expansion, the North Creek-Gore Mountain development, Warren County airport improvements, Saratoga County water project and expansion of rail service in the Adirondacks. He has also been able to secure a lot of federal money for the district. To what degree you think he has been effective is up to you. But one thing is clear: If he doesn't take control of this campaign, he's not going to be around much longer to be any good to anyone. Consider the latest "help" the congressman has received from fellow Republicans. On Monday, the National Republican Congressional Committee suggested that Gillibrand may be "in cahoots with Communists," based on some obscure article in a socialist newspaper. This is 2006, not 1954. Didn't Republicans learn anything from Joe McCarthy's witch hunt? Besides, communists in our midst are hardly considered a threat these days. Do they think voters are stupid enough to be swayed by such an allegation? And, seriously, who uses the phrase, "in cahoots," anymore? In trying to paint Gillibrand as a political carpetbagger, 10 Republican Party chairmen put out a press release demanding she "clear the air" about whether she really lives in New York City. Fact is, Gillibrand works out of her law firm's Albany office and has voted regularly from her legal residence in Hudson since 2003. How does spreading a false statement about an opponent, then getting caught in an easily verifiable lie, help the congressman's campaign? In addition, Republicans have resorted to name-calling (leftist, liberal), guilt by association (tying Gillibrand to the Enron scandal by linking her law firm to one of the scandal's minor players), and accusing Gillibrand of having lunch with a lobbyist (!) -- her father. When you do stuff like this, it just makes you look desperate. And given the congressman's many advantages in this election -- voter enrollment, campaign finances and incumbency among them -- there's no need for him or his supporters to act desperate. Congressman Sweeney, Republicans and all voters in the 20th District would be better served by a vigorous, straightforward debate on the issues, one that avoids the kind of gimmicks and blunders that have so far only served to cheapen this election.


Monday, April 03, 2006

Welcome, TU blog readers

Thanks for stopping by:
"Will The Real Sweeney Haters Please Stand Up?
April 3, 2006 at 4:02 pm by Elizabeth Benjamin

A very Web savvy person who goes by the name "Colin Neal" and identifies him/herself as 'an unhappy constituent' of U.S. Rep. John Sweeney, R-Clifton Park, has created a new anti-Sweeney Web site.

Neal announced the site's existence yesterday on another anti-Sweeney site, 20TrueBlue.

I'm posting these fully realizing that I will be immediately excoriated by the pro-Sweeney forces. To be fair, if any of you have created anti-Gillibrand sites - or anti-anyone else who's challenging the congressman - please feel free to alert me, and I will post them, too."
Added 4 April
Nice little 400% spike in traffic, too.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

New Anti-Sweeney Website Launched

I built and designed a new website criticizing the Congressman's record on many issues of importance to people in the 20th District, such as drug importation, outsourcing and trade, the environment, etc. You may view the site here.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

They call this a 'debate'?

In the Plattsburgh Press-Republican :

Sweeney weekend debated

Spending on Lake Placid weekend has been criticized

By NED P. RAUCH, Staff Writer

LAKE PLACID -- Area lawmakers are defending Congressman John Sweeney's recent Congressional Winter Challenge in Lake Placid.

State Sen. Betty Little (R-Queensbury) and Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward (R-Willsboro), whose districts include Lake Placid, said the annual event helps make federal lawmakers more aware of the Olympic region's needs.

'You do have to involve the federal government,' Little said. 'Having other members (of Congress) and their chiefs of staff seeing these venues is very, very important.'

Sweeney (R-Clifton Park) has organized the weekend events in Lake Placid for years. Lawmakers, their families and staffs and lobbyists are invited to Lake Placid for a weekend of skiing, bobsledding, hockey and other activities at the region's Olympic venues.

The most recent event was held Jan. 6 to 9 and attended by more than 40 people.

It was staged by the Olympic Regional Development Authority and funded largely by the New York Power Authority, which paid ORDA about $25,000.

Reports in the Glens Falls Post Star have questioned the appropriateness of using public money to pay for the event.

According to the paper, the Assembly is looking into whether it's proper for one state authority to funnel so much money to another for a weekend that's packed with fun and, lawmakers insist, discussion of issues.

A spokesman for Gov. George Pataki told the Post Star the Power Authority would be asked to review its policies.

Sweeney, who has been ill, has yet to answer questions about the event personally.

His spokespeople have said the congressman and the event organizers have done nothing wrong.

ORDA, which operates and maintains the area's Olympic venues, has received about $7 million from the federal government since 2001. The feds pitched in about that much for the construction of the new bobsled run before that.

ORDA spokesman Sandy Caligiore referred to the Power Authority as 'our sponsor.'

He said the weekends with Sweeney and his colleagues provide an opportunity for ORDA to explain how important the Olympic venues are to the region.

'Certainly there's a lot of fun involved, but also they're here to fact find and talk to our staff about what the needs for the venues are,' he said.

'These people always are juggling numerous issues in their home areas. ... We want to make our cause stand out.'

He added that a 2002 study pegged ORDA's annual impact on the area's economy at $142 million. He said a soon-to-be-released study would show that figure has grown significantly since then.

Little and Sayward have both attended the events, which usually finish with a fireworks display. Sayward said she'd leave the funding questions to somebody who better understands those issues.

'Having a congressman bring his colleagues into our district, and particularly Lake Placid, can only benefit us,' she said."

Look, Sweeney & crew go off to Lake Placid to take in the local color. When you & I do this, it costs us hundreds of dollars. They meet once a day, call it work, and New York State picks up the tab. There's not much mystery here that it's a boondoggle, plain & simple:


work or activity that is wasteful or pointless but gives the appearance of having value.

a public project of questionable merit that typically involves political patronage and graft.