Monday, July 31, 2006

Minimum Wage Matters

Gillibrand Calls for Real Minimum Wage Increase, Not More Partisan Politics

Day after Republican congressional stunt, Gillibrand again calls for real minimum wage increase

HUDSON – Upon hearing the news about the passage of the minimum wage bill, Kirsten Gillibrand, candidate for U.S. Congress in New York’s 20th District said, “I am disappointed that an election year could drive our leaders to pass a bill that is not a clear cut commitment to raise the minimum wage. Too many families are struggling to make ends meet – between the price of gas, education and healthcare – many working families are suffering. It is critical for New York State businesses that the minimum wage is increased federally because they are losing jobs to neighboring states that have not provided for working families as well as our state has.

Right now, there are 6.6 million people who would get a raise with a minimum wage increase. The tax incentive attached to this bill would give enormous tax breaks to only 7,500 of the richest American families. A real raise in the minimum wage is something we as a nation can afford, and it has been far too long in the making. Too many families are struggling to make ends meet – between the price of gas, education and healthcare – many working families are suffering.

It is critical for New York State businesses that the minimum wage is increased federally because they are losing jobs to neighboring states that have not provided for working families as well as our state has. Right now, there are 6.6 million people who would get a raise with a minimum wage increase. The tax incentive attached to this bill would give enormous tax breaks to only 7,500 of the richest American families. A real raise in the minimum wage is something we as a nation can afford, and it has been far too long in the making. Congress could have chosen to pass a minimum wage bill that was not attached to a controversial economic measure, but chose not to. Once again, John Sweeney missed an opportunity to champion a positive measure for our working families – a clean up or down vote on an increase - and once again proved that loyalty to the Bush Administration and Congressional leadership is far more important.

After almost a decade of voting against necessary increases to the minimum wage, the Republican Congress - during a secret late night session - continued the pattern of deceiving hard-working Americans by piggybacking an increase to the minimum wage with billions of dollars in tax cuts for the richest 1% of Americans. HR 5970, Vote #425 was passed, but House Republicans have admitted there is little chance of this bill passing through the Senate, a clear aim of the Republicans who drafted this doomed piece of legislation.

In the past 6 weeks alone, John Sweeney has voted a half a dozen times against having a vote on increasing the minimum wage. This increase, if passed by the Senate will not take effect until 2009. As gas prices climb to record levels, Congressman Sweeney is protecting the estates of millionaire oil executives, rather than the well being of average Americans.

Kirsten Gillibrand is running to provide real leadership in Congress rather than participate in partisan games.


According to the Economic Policy Institute, a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank dedicated to studying the economy:

  • Approximately 3.9 million parents with children under 18 would benefit from an increase in minimum wage.
  • Adults make up the largest share of workers who would benefit from a minimum wage increase: 80% of workers whose wages would be raised by a minimum wage increase to $7.25 by 2008 are adults (age 20 or older).
  • Women are the largest group of beneficiaries from a minimum wage increase: 59% of workers who would benefit from an increase to $7.25 by 2008 are women. An estimated 14% of working women would benefit directly from that increase in the minimum wage.
  • Sunday, July 30, 2006

    Sunday News

    Kristen Gillibrand told NOW:

    “No one is holding the president accountable. What we need to do is to take back the House." Gillibrand said she is for a fight against terrorism, but also for the Iraqi people’s right of self-determination, setting a withdrawal date and ensuring no U.S. bases are left behind.

    Newsday says Sweeney's facing a "potentially tough" re-election campaign from Kirsten Gillibrand in this July 29th article.

    The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle notes that Republicans are trying to focus on a local election (we know this is an attempt to distance themselves from Bush's unpopularity) and are avoiding discussing national issues such as the war in their ads. The story pinpoints the 20th CD saying it is among the most competitive in the nation:

    Several New York House races are considered among the most competitive in the nation, the top ones being the race in the Utica area to replace Republican Rep. Sherwood Boehlert and the race in the Albany area between GOP Rep. John Sweeney and Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand.

    The Times Union and the Post Star both covered Gillibrand's Energy Plan over the weekend. Gillibrand calls for a new Energy Initiative has more information. Kirsten has the a 3 Point Plan up online here.

    Saturday, July 29, 2006

    Sweeney's pro-pork votes

    In a continuation of the fiscally irresponsible leadership Sweeney has supported, Congressman John Sweeney (R-NY) gets a record of 100% pro-pork. A conservative group gave Sweeney a 0-19 record and says score of 19-for-19 is a perfect, pro-taxpayer record. A 0-for-19 record means hostility to taxpayers.

    Thanks to Congressman Jeff Flake's 19 anti-pork amendments, we now have every House member on record regarding their positions on earmarks. Before now, House members have been able to avoid scrutiny because their pork was co-mingled with other projects and tucked into the dark corners of big spending bills. Or they were able to withstand the scrutiny because they were attacked as a whole chamber and not directly attacked themselves.

    But because of Flake's amendments, they were recently forced to cast up-or-down votes on specific projects. ...

    A no vote on each of the following is a vote to keep the pork. Sweeney voted no on each of these:

    House Vote 190 - Dairy education in Iowa ($229,000)

    House Vote 191 - Hydroponic tomato production in Ohio ($180,000)

    House Vote 192 - National Grape and Wine Initiative ($100,000)

    House Vote 204 - Virginia Science Museum ($250,000)

    House Vote 205 - Juniata Locomotive Demonstration ($1,000,000)

    House Vote 277 - Swimming pool in Banning, CA ($500,000)

    House Vote 278 - “Facilities” in Weirton, West Virginia ($100,000)

    House Vote 279 - Multipurpose facility in Yucaipa, California ($500,000)

    House Vote 280 - Strand Theater Arts Center in Plattsburgh, New York ($250,000)

    House Vote 298 - Mystic Aquarium in New London, Conn. ($1,000,000)

    House Vote 299 - The Jason Foundation in Ashburn, VA ($1,000,000)

    House Vote 302 - Northwest Manufacturing Initiative ($2,500,000)

    House Vote 303 - Lewis Center for Education Research ($4,000,000)

    House Vote 304 - Leonard Wood Research Institute ($20,000,000)

    House Vote 334 - Arthur Avenue Retail Market ($150,000)

    House Vote 335 - Bronx Council for the Arts in Bronx, N.Y. ($300,000)

    House Vote 336 - Johnstown Area Regional Industries ($800,000)

    House Vote 337 - Fairmont State University ($900,000)

    House Vote 338 - Tourism Development Association in Kentucky ($1,000,000)

    GOP Hates Raising Wages, But Loves Paris Hilton

    Why can't the GOP just help Joe Minimum Wage without also helping Paris Hilton? House Democrats tried to get Republican leaders to bring a simple up or down vote to increase the minimum wage per HR 2429, the Fair Minimum Wage Act, which would increase the wage to $7.25 an hour. But Republicans instead passed a sham minimum wage bill that would include $310 billion in tax giveaways over the next 10 years. The Republican bill shifts some coal companies' costs for retiree health benefits and land reclamation to taxpayers and will not collect taxes on estates worth up to $5 million per individual as of January 1, 2015. It also gradually increases exemption from gift taxes to $5 million. (Rueters 7/29/06)

    Republicans in the senate have blocked Democratic efforts to simply raise the minimum wage 9 times since 1997. As DailyKos reported:

    With the estate tax and other repeals, House Democrats will not support the legislation and it will never make it to the Senate floor. This is all about House GOP members being able to go home for the August recess and say they voted for a minimum wage increase. It's not about raising the living standard for the 14.9 million minimum wage workers in this country. It's about trying to blunt criticism.

    Clearly, this is another example of Sweeney claiming that he supports something that would be good for New York residents and businesses and being unable to get his party to pass a good bill that does what it should. Republicans know that the poison pill tax giveaways they included mean that it will probably fail in the senate. Our national debt and the war with Iraq can't allow us to pass the Republican giveaways which were rejected in the senate twice last month. Today's New York Times says:

    ...The Senate has rejected fiscally irresponsible estate tax giveaways before and will reject them again,” said Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democratic leader, who added that the Republican approach amounted to legislative blackmail. ...

    Bloomberg sums up:

    July 29 (Bloomberg) -- The House voted to boost the minimum wage for the first time since 1997 in Republican-backed legislation that also cuts $310 billion in taxes, largely by reducing a levy on multimillion-dollar estates.

    The minimum wage increase, and the inclusion of $38 billion in tax cuts that many Democrats support, were described by some Republicans as a bid to attract votes for the estate tax legislation when it reaches the Senate, where it has been rejected twice in the last month.

    The House passed the legislation at almost 2 a.m. on a vote of 230-180.

    Democrats called it a legislative hoax that allows Republicans to show public support for the poor during an election year while piling on tax breaks for the wealthy that ensure the measure won't become law.

    ``It's cynical because they know that a minimum-wage bill with these poison pills will be dead on arrival in the U.S. Senate,'' House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said. ...

    House Republicans angered many senators by boycotting a negotiating session Thursday over whether to include the tax cuts, extending expiring tax provisions in the pension measure. House leaders ultimately added the cuts to the minimum wage legislation to try to attract Democratic support for the estate tax measure. ...

    Nancy Pelosi calls the Republican bill a sham and wrote to Democratic House leaders:

    The Republican Leadership has stated that a minimum wage bill will be brought to the floor this evening. . . . The legislation will package three separate bills - minimum wage, estate tax, and the extension of expiring tax provisions - into a single package that will make Senate passage impossible. This is nothing more than a cynical, political ploy to defeat a minimum wage increase because this bill will go nowhere in the Senate. . . .

    First, at this time, it appears that the Republican leadership plans to use the estate tax and extenders package as a "poison pill." Senate tax-writers have already rejected, on a bipartisan basis, proposals that combine the estate tax with a tax extenders package.

    Second, the cost of the combined tax package the Republican Leadership is proposing is likely to be more than $800 billion for the first ten years that the bill is in effect. This comes at a time when Republican economic policies have already resulted in trillions of dollars in debt.

    Third, the Republican Leadership has not yet decided whether they will provide a real minimum wage increase. The amount of the increase, the number of years required for such an increase to take effect, and whether a large swath of workers now covered under the Fair Labor Standards Act will lose their protections is still undecided. There is no reason for any Democrat to support a minimum wage bill that reduces or draws out an increase, or which leaves millions of workers behind in coverage.

    While the details of the Republican Leadership plan may change, their intention is clear: make every appearance that Republicans support a minimum wage increase, while ensuring its demise in the Senate by attaching "poison pills."

    The only way to ensure that a minimum wage increase is enacted is to allow a straight up-or-down vote on HR 2429, the Fair Minimum Wage Act, which provides an increase to $7.25 an hour.

    See how Sweeney voted 6 times in the last month to prevent a minimum wage increase vote in the house in What we "learned" about Sweeney and the minimum wage

    Interesting in light of yesterday's post about Sweeney and the CNMI Sweatshops, the version of the wage increase that Sweeney was supporting on July 12 of this year, was not HR 2429 but was one that included language about the wages in the CNMI. Sweeney's website says he was the first republican sponsor of H.R. 3413, and according to the bill's text, it was introduced by NY Republican Mr. Boehlert.


    Related: Media Matters reports that "The New York Times and The Washington Post credited GOP "moderates" with forcing the Republican leadership to allow a vote on increasing the minumum wage, burying the fact that Democrats have been pushing for years to increase the minimum wage." (Read the full story here)

    Gillibrand's New Energy Plan

    Kirsten Gillibrand was on WAMC yesterday talking about her energy plan (available here):

    KINGSTON, NY Democratic Congressional candidate Kirsten Gillibrand, challenging Republican incumbent John Sweeney in upstate New York, is using grassroots campaigning to push for her plan for energy independence in the U.S. within the next ten years. She spoke about her energy agenda at a small dairy farm in Columbia County. WAMC's Hudson Valley Bureau chief Julia Taylor covered the event.

    Follow the WAMC link above or listen here:

    A key race

    NPR has identified the 20th District as one of two key races in NY:

    20th Congressional District: Four-term Rep. John Sweeney (R), who has won convincingly in the past, has suddenly appeared in Democrats' cross hairs, mainly over a visit he made to a college fraternity party in April, in which some observers said he appeared drunk, or at the very least, showed poor judgement. Democrats are making sure their likely nominee, Kirsten Gillibrand, is well-funded.

    See NPR's 2006 election map.

    Friday, July 28, 2006

    Sweeney Defended Sweatshops and Lobbied for Abramoff

    I'm quoting a recent DailyKos Diary with information on John Sweeney's (R-NY) ties to Jack Abramoff which go beyond the standard (and previously covered) donations to the Sweeney campaign. It looks like Sweeney was the "go to guy" for Abramoff when it came to supporting sweatshops in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI). Sweeney is reported to have claimed that sweatshop the situation was worse in America. Read how Sweeney lobbied for this corrupt lobbyist:

    ...Some of Sweeney's work with Abramoff has bubbled to the surface.

    He made the cut in a March 2006 article in The Hill, Salon's War Room wrote it up (emphasis added):

    A window into the Abramoff investigation?

    If you're into reading tea leaves from the Jack Abramoff investigation, Roll Call has a report worth considering today: Between June and October of 2005, the paper says, Justice Department staffers pulled financial disclosure reports on at least nine members of Congress and at least seven former congressional staffers.

    Four of the members are ones you'd expect: Reps. Tom DeLay, Bob Ney and John Doolittle and Sen. Conrad Burns, each of whom is a Republican lawmaker with well-documented ties to the disgraced Republican lobbyist. But Justice Department staffers also pulled records on five members who have, as Roll Call puts it, "no public connection" to the investigation into Abramoff's dealings: Republican Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and John Sweeney, Democratic Reps. Jim McDermott and Earl Pomeroy, and Democrat Eni Faleomavaega, the delegate from American Samoa.

    ...Those who are familiar with the Abramoff story know that he left the lobbying firm, Preston Gates, after Bush was appointed President and joined the Florida based firm, Greenberg Traurig.

    On January 4, 2001 he sent a pitch letter to the Governor of CNMI, Pedro P. Tenorio, making the case why CNMI should rehire him as their lobbyist for the coming Bush era.

    There was some hesitation on CNMI to spend more money on a Washington Lobbyist now that their GOP allies controlled everything. Jack needed somebody to travel to CNMI to make his case, to seal the deal.

    John Sweeney was the guy.

    It is amazing what one finds in the Saipan Tribune the newspaper owned by the Tan Family, the Hong Kong based clan that owned most everything on the US Territory and a few Congressmen as well. Back on January 8, 2001 they were very excited. A Congressman was coming to town (emphasis added):

    Sweeney takes 1st trip to CNMI Republican congressman John E. Sweeney of New York will keynote the annual gala installation of the 2001 Board of Directors of the Saipan Chamber of Commerce, CNMI's largest business organization, on Saturday at the Hyatt Regency.

    This will be Mr. Sweeney's first trip to the CNMI, according to the Chamber. [snip]...

    More than likely, it was Sweeney's position on the Aviation Subcommittee that put him in the sights of the DOJ Abramoff Investigation, but more on that in a moment.

    First, I wonder if Sweeney planned a show of force for the locals? Oh, yeah. He did.:

    Marine air show tomorrow The United States Marine All Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 21 will make a rare appearance on [the] island tomorrow in honor of the Saipan Chamber of Commerce installation dinner and special guests, Gov. Pedro P. Tenorio and U.S. Rep. John E. Sweeney, R-New York.

    The public is invited to witness four F/A-18D Hornets of the Green Knights make two aerial demonstration passes over the Garapan lagoon at 5:30pm tomorrow, just prior to the 6:00pm Chamber installation dinner at the Hyatt Regency Saipan.

    Boy, there is nothing like a fly over to get the attention of a Territory's Governor and Chamber of Commerce. I wonder if Rep. Sweeney had a special message to deliver in his remarks that evening.

    Let's check out the report in the January 15, 2001 edition of the Saipan Tribune (emphasis added):

    Sweeney: Continue lobby efforts in D.C. New York congressman says U.S. Congress deprived of real situation in CNMI

    Ok, so the headline seems to be a plea to rehire Abramoff, but what about his remarks. What did Sweeney tell the folks? Let's take a peak:

    Mr. Sweeney told business leaders during the installation of the new officers of the Saipan Chamber of Commerce that they have an important role to play in informing the people in Washington about CNMI's efforts to become self-sustaining and carry out changes to make life better for the people.

    "The reputation of the Commonwealth is not really what ought to be. I come here and found that the truth projected to me in Washington was not the truth at all," he said. [snip]

    "The Chamber has done affirmative steps that can be a model in some other communities around the country. Without your work in the Chamber, it could have been worse. You brought to the eyes of many leaders in Washington that the people of Saipan are not giving up, that you are hopeful," said Mr. Sweeney....

    While there have been criticisms about alleged poor working conditions of garment workers in the Northern Marianas, Mr. Sweeney said the situation in the U.S. mainland is far worse as he joined enforcement agents in banging down doors of sweatshop establishments in New York. [snip]

    "I think, we as members of the U.S. Congress need to build some flexibility in our understanding of the situation," he said. In recognizing the contribution of the garment manufacturers on the island's economy, Mr. Sweeney said Washington should be made to understand that the departure of the industry will devastate the Northern Marianas.

    And of course, the effort was a success for Jack:

    Meanwhile, Gov. Pedro P. Tenorio said he agrees with Mr. Sweeney that CNMI must continue to lobby in Washington to protect the interests of the people of the Commonwealth.

    Before the month ended, a new contract was signed and the New Team Abramoff at Greenberg Traurig went to work blocking any efforts to end the system of abuse. And they also went to work to shower their clients on CNMI with tens of millions of dollars from US taxpayers.

    And Sweeney helped.

    As I outlined the other day in the Diary, Doolittle + Abramoff + Bribes = More GOP Trouble, the Department of Justice investigation seems to be focusing on Abramoff and DeLay sending their minions out to CNMI in late 1999 to fix an election.

    They wanted their guy, Ben Fitial, elected as Speaker of the CNMI House. So Ed Buckham and Mike Scanlon went to CNMI and promised two Representative, (one from the island of Rota and the other from the island of Tinian) lots and lots of Federal cash if they switched their votes.

    The deal was struck and DeLay's Congress showered CNMI with mad cash.

    Most of it went through the Transportation Committee, especially the Aviation Subcommittee. In 2000 there was $1.25 million for resurfacing the runways for the airport on Rota. Jack's Congressional partners also changed the way that Airport Improvement Project money was appropriated to insure that CNMI got a little bit out of every dollar spent.

    All in all, Sweeney may have done more that just help Jack seal a new gig lobbying for CNMI. I think he was also very helpful in landing appropriations for the CNMI.

    The 2001 CNMI billing invoices include a number of Sweeney connected entries:

    04/26/01 Tony C. Rudy 1.15 hrs Meet with appropriations staff of Rep. Sweeney's office.

    05/04/01 Tony C. Rudy 3.00 hrs Meet with Rep. Sweeney to discuss Appropriations request.

    05/25/01 Kevin A. Ring 1.80 hrs Phone conversation and correspondence with K. Kaloi (House Resources) regarding CNMI appropriations; send talking points to same; phone conversation with Labor Deparment official regarding minimum wage; correspondence with staff of Rep. Sweeney regarding appropriations.

    06/20/01 Tony C. Rudy 3.00 hrs Meeting with Rep. Sweeney regarding client issues; discussions with L. Lamora (Watts) regarding upcoming minimum wage effort.

    Well, you get the point.

    Not only was John Sweeney connected to Team Abramoff, he was having regular meetings about appropriations with admitted felon, Tony C. Rudy.

    I think Sweeney may be in trouble.

    And I definitely think that Kirsten Gillibrand should give him the Ralph Reed treatment. After all, Sweeney was defending the system of sweatshops, human trafficking, force[d] prostitution and forced abortion in his remarks to the Saipan Chamber of Commerce and in his actions to deliver the goods for Jack Abramoff.

    I hope the DCCC and the Kirsten Gillibrand campaign are up to the task of defeating this Abramoff-Connected GOP Weasel.

    Sweeney has no plans on Iraq

    While Rumsfeld is extending the stays of thousands of troops in Iraq and plans to send additional troops, Sweeney is grandstanding on Horse Slaughter (his Horse Slaughter bill does not actually ban Horse Slaughter) and Immigration issues. Reports are that a house committee will be in the 20th district next month for some election year publicity:

    WASHINGTON — A House committee will travel to upstate New York next month for a field hearing on immigration reform, an issue that has deadlocked Congress and split Republicans.

    House GOP leaders said the Judiciary Committee hearing will be held in Rep. John Sweeney's congressional district, though a site had not yet been chosen, his spokeswoman said. Sweeney is a Republican whose district stretches from Dutchess County to Lake Placid.

    The hearing will examine identification requirements at the border and the risks of terrorism, drug smuggling and human trafficking.

    Democrats have dismissed the previous immigration field hearings as election-year political theater.

    (The Poughkeepsie Journal 7/28/06)

    Why bother bringing congress here when Sweeney has been quoted dismissing plans for increasing border security? Saying:

    "If we are ever some day get to a comprehensive immigration policy, you have to succeed first at a border security plan and no one that I know really has confidence that you can do this, that we can do this." -New York Congressman John Sweeney (read the full story in Voice of America July 28, 2006)

    Sweeney still has no plans for how to turn things in Iraq around he just says he'll "continue to speak out on things I believe need to be done". Though he doesn't seem to have spoken out, nor to have said what he believes needs to be done. His most recent vote in congress on this issue was a Bush-supporting vote for more of the same. Sweeney claims that this is not a local issue, yet his website lists names of troops from the district who have died fighting in the war.

    Kirsten Gillibrand's Policy Statement on Iraq is available online at her website here. A copy of her latest letter to Sweeney on the issue says:

    July 25, 2006

    Dear Mr. Sweeney:

    I am writing to reiterate my call for a debate between us on the war in Iraq. I think it is important for the residents of the 20th District to have the opportunity to hear and compare our visions on how best to end the violence and establish a firm success strategy on the ground to allow for a redeployment of our troops. Clearly, this debate should also address our strategies to win the war on terror here at home and abroad.

    After my first request, sent to you on June 22, 2006, your spokesperson said you would not schedule a debate with me because I was facing a primary challenge. Now that both of my primary opponents have dropped out and endorsed me, I am sure that you are now willing to debate.

    I believe that the situation in Iraq is one of the most serious issues facing our country. I am sure we can agree about that. Where we disagree, however, is what constitutes a strategy for success in this conflict. It has been more than three years since President Bush declared "Mission Accomplished," and yet Iraq now stands on the brink of civil war and the administration has provided no clear plan forward for our troops. Recently, you joined with your house colleagues in support of President Bush's "Stay the Course" strategy. I believe that we need to change the course and formulate a real exit strategy that will create lasting peace in the region and undermine terrorism in the long term.

    I would like to schedule this debate as soon your schedule permits. I look forward to hearing your response.

    Thank you very much.


    Kirsten Gillibrand

    State is Auditing NYPA Fund

    Sweeney's staff pretended that looking into his "Congressional Winter Challege" was a partisan "witchhunt", but the fact is that even Gov. Pataki questions funding the event.

    Audit firm will review NYPA's charity gifts: Public authority hires a company to check on how it gives profits to charities. Friday, July 28, 2006 By Michelle Breidenbach Staff writer

    The New York Power Authority has hired an outside auditing firm to examine the way the state-run electric company gives away $1 million a year to charity.

    NYPA has signed a contract with Bennett, Kielson, Storch & DeSantis for about $15,000, NYPA spokesman Michael Saltzman said. The firm, like NYPA, is headquartered in White Plains.

    Gov. George Pataki ordered the authority to review its charitable-giving practices earlier this year after The Post-Standard reported that the state government office was making donations to groups in which its top managers are involved....

    NYPA's giving is under investigation by two state Assembly committees that oversee public authorities and energy. It has also fueled fodder for the campaign trail in the congressional district that covers Lake Placid. NYPA, in January, spent $25,000 on a ski weekend for U.S. Rep. John Sweeney, his friends and family, NYPA staff and family members and at least a dozen Washington lobbyists.

    NYPA gave the money to the Olympic Regional Development Authority to run a winter fantasy camp, intended to bring federal representatives to experience the 1980 Olympic venues that are still an economic engine for the Adirondack village. But many of this year's guests were in no position to fight for federal funding for the venues.

    (The Post Standard 7/28/2006)

    Thursday, July 27, 2006

    Dragging on Dredging

    Sweeney is joining the Fort Edward Town Supervisor in stalling the dredging project yet again. He's claiming that the town should get compensation for being the "guinea pig for the largest dredging project in the history of our nation."

    How about the compensation of getting the cancer causing toxins in the river cleaned up and taken away? Don't we deserve that after living with the 1.3 million pounds of cancer causing PCBs that GE dumped in Fort Edward and Hudson Falls? When is he going to call for that?

    The town government of Fort Edward recently threw a wrench into the timetable by challenging the EPA's authority to build the plant and suggesting the town may seize the property through eminent domain.

    Dredging advocates fear the town's move could push the project even further back.

    "It's reached a level of absurdity, year after year, and I question even a 2008 starting date," said Rich Schiafo of the group Scenic Hudson.

    Rep. John Sweeney, a Republican whose district includes Fort Edward, said the community deserves some sort of benefit package to compensate them for becoming a "guinea pig for the largest dredging project in the history of our nation." ... (source)

    Sweeney's stance is just another aspect of his donor, GE's, efforts to stall the work. Of course Sweeney pretends not to know that the dredging will have a positive economic impact on the district when it is started.

    The project if it ever starts, it can create over 3,500 jobs in the immediate area, with up to 8,900 additional jobs in the 12 county region. Over $200 million in new wages in the area. And a $9 million positive impact on residential property values. (source)

    Although Sweeney and newspapers often dodge the reality, PCBs are very bad:

    They are serious poisons which have been shown to cause damage to the reproductive, neurological and immune systems of wildlife and humans and are known to cause cancer. Specifically, because PCBs in the body mimic estrogen, women of child-bearing age and their infants are particularly susceptible to a variety of development and reproductive disorders. A National Academy of Sciences committee has stated that "PCBs pose the largest potential carcinogenic risk of any environmental contaminant for which measurements exist. (read more facts here)

    Related: Background from the Hudson River's Fisherman's Association.

    See our related posts.

    Sweeney Ranks 7th in Lobbyist Dollars

    The TU Blog has another post on the campaign up. It looks like the NRCC is at it again. They are attacking Kirsten Gillibrand who has taken in over 90% of her funds from individual donors not lobbyists for the handful of lobbyist donations she has. Meantime, their guy, John Sweeney of course has taken in almost 45% of his monies from ... guess who...lobbyists:

    ...The NRCC didn’t get around to mentioning Sweeney’s D.C. fundraiser Wednesday night. The invite lists Steve Scango, director of federal affairs at the lobbying firm McAllister & Quinn, as the RSVP contact (with his work e-mail and phone number).

    Scango works with Sweeney’s former Chief of Staff Chris Fish.

    The NRCC also didn’t mention that Sweeney is #7 among House members when it comes to who takes the most lobbyist cash. He’s received $71,934 in lobbyist dollars so far during the 2006 electio cycle. U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Tx., who resigned from Congress June 9 after a series of criminal indictments, tops the list with $162,000.

    The GOP 2006 Election Strategy seems to be: Disregard Truth, Facts, Etc. and Don't Worry About Looking Like A Hypocrite.

    Fact Checking

    Yesterday's editorial reminded me of how much Sweeney is like Bush. Even though Kirsten Gillibrand issued proof that she does live here, Sweeney sent a mailer to voters claiming:

    Gillibrand wants you to believe she calls our area home -- but the FACTS tell a different story...

    How about the FACT that Mr. Sweeney is mailing lies to voters? His campaign simply chooses to ignore any reality or evidence that is contrary to the point of view he wishes to present.

    This is exactly what the Bush administration did with the Iraq WMD case, and is what Bush continues to do when he refutes sound science and promotes instead an extreme idealogical based agenda. Yesterday's Times Union editorial tells it as it is:

    This is getting silly. A quote from Mark Twain is in order for our lesson:

    "Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts."

    Again, Ms. Gillibrand, her staff has documented, lives in Greenport, not Manhattan.

    Oh, and Mr. Sweeney didn't live in his congressional district when he first was elected in 1998.

    What is amazing is how many local GOP ditto-heads (like this one) refuse to accept that Sweeney's facts are wrong. And that he knowingly sent out false accusations in his campaign mailer. These GOPers claim that the paper is biased toward Gillibrand because it has simply refuted absurd lies told by her opponent.

    Yes, some will support the GOP no matter how far astray it goes. But most of us are wondering, why would anyone trust Sweeney to represent us when he pretends that refuted and documented untruths are "FACTS"?

    This is not the first time. His campaign continues to pretend that it was not involved with the Congressional Winter Challenge invitation list, even though officials from both ORDA and the USOC have stated that he was involved.

    I have to thank Sweeney and his staff for helping me understand the need for this upcoming book.

    Wednesday, July 26, 2006

    John Sweeney Cartoon at

    Own Up The Reality of Sweeney's Ski Vacation

    Newsday reports "ORDA's chief says "clean up" ski weekend invitation process".

    Maybe now the Sweeney spinners will stop pretending that Sweeney was not involved in writing up the guest list?

    And acknowledge that it is a ski vacation weekend and not what Sweeney's filings claim he's doing there: "Inspect Lake Place Olympic facilities"

    Sweeney's Special Interest Bill Not Floating

    Today's Post Star has an editorial on Sweeney's Boat Bill H.R. 5274:

    PFD legislation doesn't float

    Our view: There are better ways to encourage life jacket use than giving tax breaks to boat makers.

    Tragedies are good for politicians, especially in an election year.

    Any catastrophic event, from a hurricane to a tour boat sinking, is an opportunity for an elected official to step in and save the day by proposing new laws and regulations.

    Sometimes, the legislation that comes out of a tragedy is a long-overdue and necessary response to correct a flawed situation.

    Most times, though, what politicians come up with will have little if any tangible effect on preventing the next horrific event. But by the time voters figure it out, the politician has gotten his sound bite and the public has moved on to other things.

    That appears to be the case with a new personal flotation device legislation proposed by U.S. Rep. John Sweeney in the wake of the Ethan Allen tour boat tragedy. The congressman, facing a tough re-election campaign, has proposed offering boat manufacturers a tax incentive for equipping their boats with new types of personal floatation devices. The implication is that because no one on the Ethan Allen was wearing a life vest when 20 people were killed last October, this legislation might have saved lives had it been in place.

    But that connection is a stretch at best, and outright manipulation at worst.

    First off, both state and federal laws already require that all recreational watercraft be equipped with readily accessible, Coast Guard-approved personal flotation devices for each passenger. So giving tax breaks to manufacturers to equip boats with them is redundant. The Ethan Allen, by the way, met that requirement.

    The problem with personal floatation devices isn't that existing laws are lax with regard to them being available on boats. It's that people generally don't like to wear them -- either because the life vests are uncomfortable or because the people don't perceive a threat to their safety.

    How far would the congressman's proposed legislation go to change that situation?

    Even if new boats were required to be equipped with the new, lighter life vests, the law wouldn't affect the thousands of existing operations that currently comply with the law by having standard-issue vests on board.

    So rather than give boat manufacturers a tax break for doing something that boat operators are already required to do, wouldn't it be more effective to give the financial incentive to boat operators to replace their bulky, uncomfortable PFDs with new models that are lightweight and comfortable? Wouldn't it be more effective to give manufacturers of life vests a tax incentive to produce and market the newer models -- such as inflatable life jackets and collars or those that double as windbreakers? Wouldn't the switch-over to more "wearable" life vests be helped by a recommendation from the Coast Guard to include phasing in new models over a period of years?

    And since people often don't recognize the dangers of not wearing life vests, how about investing federal dollars in an educational campaign to encourage more people to wear life vests -- particularly the elderly and physically challenged?

    The focus on a tax break for boat manufacturers might have something to do with the congressman's previously mentioned re-election campaign. The tax break is endorsed by the National Marine Manufacturers Association, which represents the boat manufacturers who would get the deduction. The association's political action committee, coincidentally, has donated $4,000 to Sweeney's re-election campaign this election cycle, on top of $1,500 during his 2004 campaign.

    There are better ways to spend taxpayer money than giving one segment of business a tax break while ignoring potentially more effective solutions to a problem.

    This new legislation looks good in a campaign flyer. But it could unnecessarily cost taxpayers a lot of money, while having a negligible impact on improving boating safety.

    This morning's news

    Sweeney's new campaign slogan: My fundraisers and Special Interest Tax Giveaways all on your dime!

    The TU blog has the latest on Sweeney's annual fundraiser fantasy camp. This shows why Carlson is Spinner in Chief. Listening to her makes your head spin. Look, we all know that Sweeney compiled the invite list. Maybe some other person licked the stamp but maybe we should just knock off the charades already.

    ...In a letter to Brodsky, Bull [U.S. Olympic Committee official] took responsibility for the invitations. Brodsky then asked why some people on Sweeney’s guest list appeared to have no connection to funding for the facility.

    “As to why I invited the private sector people on Congressman Sweeney’s list who had no known Olympic connection, I wanted to accomodate, to the extent that I could, a request from the member of Congress representing the Lake Placid region,” Bull added in a July 24 follow-up letter.

    Brodsky has previously sent letters to Sweeney asking for information on the trip. He said he plans to send Sweeney another letter this week asking why some of the invitees appear to have no connection to providing funds for the Olympics.

    “You’d have to ask the Olympic Committee,” said Sweeney’s deputy chief of staff, Melissa Carlson. “They were the ones who sent invitations to everybody.'’ ...

    Today's TU editorial is pretty funny:

    One more time, slowly. Today's remedial lesson in campaign politics is simple enough. Kirsten Gillibrand lives in the Columbia County town of Greenport, which, in turn, is located in the 20th Congressional District, where she's running for office this fall. Ms. Gillibrand says that she does not live in Manhattan and there's no evidence that she does. ...

    Of course, evidence doesn't matter to ostrich-republicans like Sweeney.

    Speaking of ostriching, while our nation is at war in Iraq and Afghanistan, as gas prices go off the deep end, as Iran and North Korea work on building nukes as another war breaks out in the Middle East, John Sweeney has no exit strategy and nothing to say on these matters but is busy working on his horse bill and his pay-to-play tax give away for a special interest campaign donor.

    Am I the only one who thinks it is funny how he keeps pointing out that his boat bill will cost boaters nothing? While not pointing out that you and me are the ones who will be paying for this. Gosh, you'd think that after someone spent thousands of dollars on a boat that they'd have a few bucks left over to buy life vests.

    Take 19 pointed out that Sweeney is one of the endangered congressman that Rudy's trying to help save. What would the Sweeney folks be saying if city people like RG and Bloomberg were working this hard for Kirsten Gillibrand?

    Despardo Sweeney was also given funds from the Republicans' "Final ROMP" (that stands for Retain Our Majority Program. Which sounds like Karl Rove's cutsie thinking if you ask me):

    used for candidates in the most desperate need of campaign money. Three of the recipients trail their challengers in terms of cash on hand. Most of those who are ahead in funds have only modest leads.

    Of course, we say forget the what it stands for, lets just say Amen to 06 Sweeney's final ROMP in office.

    Tuesday, July 25, 2006

    More news

    Sweeney is on the front page of today's Congresspedia at Sourcewatch for refusing to testify. He's in great company with Tom DeLay, Katherine Harris, William Jefferson, Jerry Lewis, and Duke Cunningham and John Doolittle. Check it out.

    Kirsten Gillibrand has issued her debate challenge to Sweeney again now that there is not going to be a primary. See the TU Post.

    Blog Round Up

    Colin Neal's Diary has a listing of PACs and lobbyist monies taken in this election cycle by John Sweeney.

    The National Journal says that Sweeney’s baggage is why this race probably will always live in the top 25 of competitive races. The 20th race has been moved up moved up from number 26. (I suppose those would include: his car crash, the campaign kickbacks to his wife, his vote count ending rent a riot, the drunken frat party, and what look like ethics violation over his annual fundraiser/ski vacation.)

    Read up on MyDD's coverage of "Sweeney's Peculiar Donations"

    The TU Blog reports that the ORDA hearings on the Sweeney Fundraiser Congressional Winter Challenge will continue today though Sweeney won't be present.

    Sweeney's Blatant Lies

    A recent report and FEC filings appear to be in grave contradiction to one another.

    Sweeney plans to introduce the Boating Safety Tax Incentive Act in Congress Monday. He came up with the idea after the Ethan Allen accident last October killed 20 tourists. (source)

    The boating accident happened on October 2, 2005.

    John Sweeney was given $5,500 by the National Marine Manufacturer's PAC (that is the PAC of the industry that supports this legislation) between 2004 and August 9, 2005. (see our earlier post for links to the PACs FEC filings). H.R. 5274, the Boating Safety Tax Incentive Act provides tax credits to boat makers.

    It seems that Sweeney is using the accident to justify passing a tax credit to an special interest donor. Sweeney's bill will do nothing to save boaters from an accident all it does is set up a tax give away for a Sweeney donor. Of course, the special interest Sweeney donor supports passage of this tax give away. How dumb does Sweeney think we are? Probably as dumb as the media that doesn't seem to check his FEC filings for conflicts of interest.

    Monday, July 24, 2006

    Don't Overlook Gillibrand's Focus on Issues

    In a recent editorial, the Post Star calls on John Sweeney (R NY) to take up Kirsten Gillibrand's debate challenge.

    ...We await the fall debates with eagerness. Now that Gillibrand's same-party opponents have dropped out of the lopsided primary that was shaping up for September, Sweeney's stated reason for holding off debates with his Democratic rival has evaporated.

    Ideally, these debates would start earlier than they usually do. Why not space them out over several months beginning in August, or at least just after Labor Day? An earlier debate schedule with three to five debates planned across the cumbersome 20th Congressional District would maximize the time that voters have to evaluate the candidates. ...

    I agree with the PS call for early and frequent debates. When will Sweeney take the up Kirsten's challenge?

    I disagree with the paper's opinion that the Gillibrand press release about Sweeney's possible house ethics rules violations are the same thing as Sweeney's negative attacks on Gillibrand's family and the lies that the Sweeney campaign is mailing to voters regarding her residency.

    The Gillibrands own one house and it is in the district. When team Sweeney dug up a copy of her mortgage papers, surely they also discovered about the move from her old apartment in 2004.

    Seems that Sweeney and Bush have another bad habit in common: the selective use of the facts to present a false version of reality to the public.

    In addition to living here full time, Gillibrand graduated from a local high school in Troy. Lots of people in our area that move away for a job and then return home to raise families. Besides Republicans know Sweeney didn't move to the district until after he was elected so Gillibrand has a leg up on him.

    Sweeney's ethics violations are a legit issue in this race. Sweeney claims to be for ethics reform and then he goes skiing with lobbyists in Utah.

    He refuses to testify to back up his statements which are in direct contradiction to sworn testimony suggesting he violated house ethics rules by inviting people to attend a Lake Placid event that taxpayers funded. He's a 4 term incumbent who seems to be using taxpayer funds to help his campaign. Many of us see these as abuses of power and violations of ethics rules or standards.

    Gillibrand's press release about Sweeney's Possible Ethics Violations doesn't change the fact that Gillibrand has been talking about the issues all along.

    Issues like: An Exit Strategy for the war in Iraq, Veteran's Issues, Middle Class Tax Cuts, An Ethics Proposal, and help with College Tuition costs.

    In contrast, what does Sweeney have to say about Veterans Issues? Tax Cuts? Where is his exit plan? We can't even link to his blank "Ethics reform" page since nothing of the sort is even mentioned on his website. Looks like Sweeney should spend less time on Mortgage Research and more time on Issue Development.

    The Post Star knows that the Sweeney campaign has been attacking Gillibrand's family since the beginning. Republicans tried to justify their personal family attacks by saying:

    In campaign speeches, Gillibrand frequently mentions her grandmother, a former Albany Democratic political leader, said Alex Burgos, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee.

    "If that's a part of her record in front of the voters, then this needs to be a part of it," he said.

    Gosh, if the NRCC were running the Gillibrand campaign, I guess when John Sweeney's mailer about his father came out, the Gillibrand campaign would use it as an excuse to attack Sweeney's son. Which of course they didn't since Gillibrand is a Democrat and doesn't listen to the NRCC's bad ideas.

    Now you'll see why I agree with the Post Star's call on Sweeney to talk about the issues and to take Gillibrand up on her debate offer, but I think they are unbalanced when they claim that Gillibrand hasn't been focused on the issues.

    Sunday, July 23, 2006

    What does the $5,500 Sweeney got cost us?

    Sweeney's pro-business and pro-campaign donor agenda will cost us taxpayers again if his newest bill goes into law.

    John Sweeney (R-NY) announced that via the bill he introduced that:

    "We provide safety without providing extra costs to boaters or manufactures" (Sweeney quoted here)

    Guess who is footing the bill instead of the boat industry? We, the taxpayers.

    Sweeney has taken in $5,500 in campaign donations from the National Marine Manufacturer's PAC and then he writes legislation that could permit them to deduct up to two times the cost of buying boating safety equipment. To quote the bill "twice of the boat manufacturer's basis or cost of such qualified boating safety equipment" could be deducted.

    Sweeney's bill currently has no co-sponsors in the house. Needless to say, the boat manufacturer PAC "urges Congress to pass the bill by the end of the 109th Congress"

    Why do the tax payers have to foot the bill for big business to do what is right? Why not support a bill that mandates this equipment in boats to ensure our safety?

    Of course, Sweeney's taking $5,500 from a special interest group and then writing legislation that they want passed this session doesn't make Sweeney like any of these guys:

    ...Randy “Duke” Cunningham, former US Congressman and Chair of the US House Intelligence Subcommittee, is serving an 8.4 year sentence in federal prison for fraud and taking bribes. Jerry Lewis, the Chair of the US House Appropriation Committee, is under investigation by the FBI. Porter Goss, former US Congressman and CIA Director is also the subject of an FBI investigation. In May 2006, Reuters reported that the FBI was investigating allegations that four star USAF Generals Michael Moseley and John Jumper helped to steer a Thunderbird contract (the USAF equivalent of the US Navy's Blue Angels stunt flying team) to a friend, retired USAF General Hal Hornburg, who once commanded the Thunderbirds...(source)

    Of course not!

    Sweeney cites the recent death of 20 boaters on a Lake George boat tour when he talks up this bill. His industry pals say:

    “We believe the single biggest problem is people aren’t wearing life jackets when they get in the boat,” said Monita Fontaine, vice president of governmental relations for the National Marine Manufacturers Association.

    Errr....this may be a stupid question, but how does this bill get people to wear the equipment that they don't wear now?
    The idea, Sweeney said, is to get life vests into the boats in the hopes that they will be used by passengers.

    The Ethan Allen had 47 passengers and one crew member aboard when it sank on Oct. 2, 2005. Life vests were aboard, but the passengers, many of whom were elderly and limited in their mobility, were not wearing them. (TU story)

    Maybe Sweeney's next bill will suggest that laws requiring people to wear seat belts be replaced with laws giving automakers tax credits for installing seatbelts in our cars.

    I suppose the so-called-liberal media will never ask Sweeney how much this bill will cost the taxpayers if passed. Or why he doesn't support requiring that the boat industry pay for these saftey improvements with their own monies. Or why he proposes this industry supported bill instead of a bill requiring that boaters wear life vests. Wouldn't that be more effective?

    That could have saved the lives of those 20 boaters and would cost the taxpayers nothing. None of the stories I found in the press pointed out Sweeney's campaign donations from this industry.

    Related: Our Earlier Post on this: Sweeney Sells Out (again)

    Friday, July 21, 2006

    NRCC's laughing stock Press Release

    The TU blog catches the NRCC with its pants down. The GOP was so busy trying to claim that Gillibrand has no support here and moan about the amount of money that Gillibrand raised in the district (claiming not enough came from inside the 20th), they failed to check their numbers. It turns out that in that thing we like to call reality. In fact, Kirsten Gillibrand has more support from within the district than Sweeney does!

    Sweeney raised less money than Gillibrand from within the 20th District. He also raised far more of his funds from outside NY state.

    Say it with me: What HYPOCRITEs!

    ...Sweeney’s contributions, which found that only $23,850 - or 5 percent - of the $482,422 he raised during the last quarter (April 1 - June 30) came from inside the 20th, while $457,122 (95 percent) came from outside it. ...

    Only $23,850 - or 5 percent - of the $482,422 he raised during the last quarter (April 1 - June 30) came from inside the 20th, while $457,122 (95 percent) came from outside it.

    Gillibrand’s stats for this quarter: $31,662 (7 percent) in district, $401,371 (93 percent) out of district.

    Sweeney also raised quite a bit more out-of-state cash, $314,114 (65 percent), to Gillibrand’s $328,931 (49 percent), during the last quarter. ...

    Here's a break down of Sweeney Funders:

    $500, Advanced Micro Systems PAC

    $9,000, General Electric’s PAC

    $2,000 Wal-Mart Stores

    $698, in-kind from the NRCC (all those press releases?)

    $1,000, Salvatore DiCarlo (owner of DiCarlo’s Gentleman’s Club [aka nudie bar])

    $1,000, Harold Ickes (an adviser to U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-NY)

    $1,534, Jeffrey J. Kimbell (pharmaceutical lobbyist whose house Sweeney and his Utah ski weekend fundraiser attendees dined)

    $13,550 ($1,400 of which was returned) from the Nigro family (a big local developer)

    $39,400 ($10,200) from the Led Duke family (another big local developer)

    $500 Henry Zwack, former Rensselaer County executive, OASAS executive deputy commissioner

    Additionally, 87% of Gillibrand's funds are from individual donors while 45% of Sweeney's comes from Special Interest Groups. (source)

    Of course, the more Sweeney's supporters distract the media with charges like this, the less they have to talk about Sweeney's ethics problems and his abysmal record.

    How about that Cancer Issue?

    While Sweeney attacked Gillibrand's family after she was endorsed by the Sierra Club, we'd like shine the light back on Sweeney's record.

    On May 11, 2006 Sweeney urged passage of a bill he is co-sponsoring, the Breast Cancer and Environmental Research Act to "help get to the bottom of what causes breast cancer and how to prevent it."

    This seems an odd thing to support considering that John Sweeney (R-NY) has tried to stop, halt, and postpone indefinitely the Hudson dredging which would remove PCBs from the district's main recreational river. Sweeney stands with Corporate Lobbyists and opposed sound science on this issue.

    PCBs are known carcinogens. Who wants to swim, boat and fish in cancer water?

    Related: Sweeney/Sierra Club CNN Trascript from 2001.

    Earlier Post: Sweeney, GE and Toxic Homes

    Thumbing the papers

    A Times Union Editorial urges the Sweeney Campaign to "Stick to the Issues"

    ...Dog walkers? Six-packs?

    How about the price of a barrel of oil and, eventually, a gallon of gasoline -- and thus the need for energy conservation in such time of geopolitical turbulence?

    What about the cost of the war in Iraq? Or the cost of living in upstate New York, refuge that it is from New York City housing prices? Or the federal taxes that residents of both places have to pay?

    With less than four months until Election Day, there's lots of substance to talk about, especially since the matter of Ms. Gillibrand's residency just isn't an issue.

    Thumbs up to the TU for their story.

    And thumbs down to the Post Star for it's headlines and coverage of the Sweeney attacks. I noticed something in light of the recent CSM article on lifting barriers to electing more women. We covered CSM story earlier, here. It says the press has to stop sterotyping women and that:

    ..The White House Project, a nonpartisan group that helps women advance in leadership ... found the media not only covered women candidates less, but also more personally and stereotypically. ..

    Here are two of the week's headlines from the Post Star.

    "Again, Sweeney targets opponent's brother: Republican's office criticizes Sierra club's nod to Gillibrand"

    "Gillibrand's residency questioned: Clifton Park Republican claims candidate lives outside election district"

    Sweeney's points seemed like personal attacks on Gillibrand's family or were regarding matters that had nothing to do with the race or the issues. However, when Gillibrand's campaign sent out a press release regarding a possible house ethic's violation on Sweeney's part, that headline read:

    "Gillibrand criticizes Sweeney over photo: Analysts say sniping could turn off voters"

    It wasn't over a photo, it was over the possible use of tax payer monies on Sweeney's campaign website in violation of house ethics rules. Gillibrand was labeled as "snipping" for bringing this up.

    So why is Gillibrand getting personal coverage while Sweeney's efforts to divert people from the issues seems to be work with some in the press? I can't answer but hopefully, the Post Star will take notice and will make some changes in its upcoming coverage of the race.

    Thursday, July 20, 2006

    The race is in the news everywhere today

    Take Back NY's 24th has a good run down on some of the Lobbyists and Bush Administration Insiders that Sweeney had invited to the Lake Placid ski vacation which we, the people, paid for. Go read it here.

    Rep. Majority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) held a fund raiser for several endangered Republicans yesterday. Sweeney is on the list. When Boehner was running for majority leader, he claimed he was going to reform the lobbyist problems in Washington. Now that he's in Delay's shoes, he hasn't done it and in fact is raising funds faster than Tom DeLay did. Of course we know why he wants to keep Sweeney around - they both say one thing and do another.

    The 20th is on the list of Republican districts where Democratic groups are working on winning back the house. Read the full story in today's The Hill.

    Kirsten Gillibrand is quoted in this report about the 5 day non-partisan Women's Campaign School she attended.

    The TU Blog has photos of the Sweeney Campaign and Official House websites which both used the same photo and text in another House ethics violation on Sweeney's part. As with the ORDA issue, Sweeney's spinners just deny the violations. Of course the photo has disappeared from Sweeney's campaign site. So if it wasn't an improper use of the photo, why the jump to remove it? The Post Star covered the ethics violation and Gillibrand's debate challenge in today's paper:

    U.S. Rep. John Sweeney has violated ethics policies by using the same photograph on his congressional and campaign Web sites, his Democratic opponent's campaign said Wednesday. Kirsten Gillibrand's campaign also said there was duplicated text on the two sites. The House Ethics Committee's campaign booklet states that official House resources may not be used for campaign purposes, a press release stated.

    "Sweeney has difficulty drawing the line between taxpayer-funded items and campaign assets and needs to stop using his position in public service for self-serving measures," said Allison Price, Gillibrand's spokeswoman. ...

    Last month, Gillibrand challenged Sweeney to a debate on Iraq issues, but the congressman refused to debate until after a Democratic primary. Since that time, two other candidates dropped out of the race for the Democratic nomination, leaving Gillibrand as the party's only candidate. ...

    Still no word from Sweeney on when he's planning to take her up on her challenge. (insert whatever noise an ostrich makes here.)

    Wednesday, July 19, 2006

    News Rounds

    Today's Times Union is covering the call on Sweeney to return the monies he raised via our Tax Payer funded vacation for his supporters.

    The Post Star's Columnist, Mark Freeman noted the improper use of tax payer funds for a Sweeney mailing in a recent piece titled "Cost of Lies Goes to Tax Payers"

    And in a similar theme, the Gillibrand Campaign has noted another violation of house ethics committee rules on Sweeney's Campaign and Official House website. I wonder what other taxpayer monies are being used to fund and support Sweeney's Campaign?


    Hudson - John Sweeney's campaign website features a photo of a smiling John Sweeney sitting next to a flag in front of a brown wall. John Sweeney's official House website features the identical photo of a smiling John Sweeney sitting next to a flag in front of a brown wall with the House seal in the upper right corner.

    After looking at the two photos side-by-side, Gillibrand campaign spokesperson Allison Price remarked, "It is like magic, now you see it, now you don't."

    According to the House ethics committee's campaign booklet, "official resources of the House must be used for the performance of official business of the House, and hence those resources may not be used for campaign or political purposes...Government funds should not be spent to help incumbents gain reelection." The sharing of resources does not stop with the bio photo that appears on both websites, there are several examples where Sweeney's campaign office and House staff are utilizing the same government resources, both photos and text.

    Sweeney has difficulty drawing the line between taxpayer funded items and campaign assets and needs to stop using his position in public service for self serving measures.

    Sweeney's House Page Sweeney's Congressional Page

    Oh The Places You'll Go

    While Sweeney attempts to distance himself from his record in support of Bush, today's Post Star reports that he is representing Bush in London.

    Sweeney Represents Bush At Air Show

    U.S. Rep. John Sweeney was among eight members of Congress that represented President Bush at the opening of world's largest aerospace exhibition in London on Monday, said U.S. Rep. Bill Young of Florida....

    While in London, Sweeney met with representatives of GE-Aviation, Dynabil, IBM, Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics...

    The delegation flew to London on a U.S. Air Force plane, and the federal government picked up costs for the trip, Young said....

    Other activities included a visit to a British military hospital on Saturday, and a dinner with industry executives on Sunday evening, said Harry Glenn, a spokesman for Young. ... (the full story is here)

    Sweeney is also mentioned in this article "Traveling at Tax-Payer Expense" in the Post Star.

    Neither of the stories tell us who paid for Sweeney to fly to Miami where he incited a Rent a Riot which shut down the 2000 election vote recount that the FL State Supreme Court had ruled should go forward.

    Just Don't Buy the Hype

    While John Sweeney lugs out votes like this one against the Federal Marriage Amendment to claim that he is a moderate, let's keep in mind his full record. And let's say "shame on you" to those in the press who fall for Sweeney's rush to repackage himself as something he is not for the race of his life against challenger Kirsten Gillibrand.

    Sweeney's occassional votes with reason don't change his real record, they just mix it up a litte and give him something to point at while he pretends he's a moderate. In spite of this one vote that is consistent with our wishes - most Americans don't support Bush's desire to change our Constiution - Sweeney has also voted to ban adoptions by anyone who isn't married. He has voted against civil-rights bills 70% of the time.

    Sweeney's votes put him in the "Libertarian Conservative" column. He has voted with the will of the largest conservative political organization in America 69% of the time.

    Sweeney votes against reproductive choice 90% of the time. He supported the National Education Association only 18% of the time.

    Sweeney's real record is also overwhelmingly anti-environment.

    And he recently voted against the Legislative Line Item Veto Act which was designed to combat wasteful spending.

    Source for the above information and the updated voting grid chart is found at the non-partisan website On The Issues.

    Related: Read more about Sweeney's record at The GOP Auction House.

    Tuesday, July 18, 2006

    Oh, the Doughnations

    The Times Union has a story up about the Sweeney Guest list: "Sweeney Donors Under Scrutiny" Over $30,000 in campaign monies went to Sweeney this election cycle from the guest list. For our $25,000 tax payers' investment that is a great ROI for Sweeney, eh?

    ...According to Federal Election Commission filings, the donors included at least six lobbyists -- two of whom once worked for the Clifton Park Republican -- as well as U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, and Eugene Zeltman, former president of the New York Power Authority, which has funded Congressional Winter Challenge weekends in Lake Placid since 2000....

    Their blog has an entry with the current election cycle's lobbyist donations.

    I added bullets to the research we did on the guest list in March which doesn't only focus on the current election cycle and shows that virtually everyone there gave at some point, or did something for Sweeney, like give him an "award".

    In other Sweeney Dough-nation news: Sweeney has directly taken in $7,000 in campaign funds from House Appropriations Committee Chairman Jerry Lewis who is under investigation for ties to lobbyists with Copeland, Lowery, Jacquez, Denton & White. Lewis' last contribution to Sweeney was for $2,000 on March 29, 2006.

    According to a report in the Los Angeles Times last month, federal prosecutors are looking into Lewis' relationship with lobbyist Bill Lowery, who has links to disgraced former Republican Rep. Duke Cunningham of California. ...

    Other beneficiaries of contributions from Lewis in New York include upstate Republicans John Sweeney ($7,000), Randy Kuhl ($5,000), and Sherwood Boehlert ($1,000).

    Lewis' committee has earmarked hundreds of millions of dollars for clients of Lowery, himself a former Republican House member from California, according to published reports. (source)

    Randy Kuhl's Press Secretary, Robert Van Wicklin, was at Lake Placid.

    Related: "Lewis, Delay Pay Dearly For Counsel" in The Hill

    The Hill on Sweeney

    In a page from Tom Delay's playbook, Sweeney is claiming that his ethics problems are the fault of a Democratic "witch hunt".

    Gee, since the Republican Congress and Sweeney don't care that there is testimony from ORDA's president suggesting that Sweeney is in violation of the House's Ethics Rules, that means no one else is allowed to care, right?

    Rs investigated every file moved from one box to the next when Bill Clinton was president. Now that they have control of all 3 branches of government, they have zero interest in policing themselves. If Brodsky weren't asking these questions, who would?

    The Hill Reports: "State Assembly questions funding of Sweeney’s trips to Lake Placid" By Elana Schor on 7/18/06

    Tales of bobsleds, steak dinners and taxpayer-funded lobbying are roiling New York politics, as a state Assembly probe of Rep. John Sweeney’s annual winter sports trip threatens to do in an already tough reelection bid.

    The annual Congressional Winter Challenge, hosted by Sweeney (R-N.Y.) since 1999, brings members, staffers and lobbyists to the Lake Placid Winter Olympic facility in the heart of his district for a weekend of sledding, skiing and promoting the tourism-dependent regional economy.

    While the Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA), a part of New York state government, formally invites guests, the state power authority’s assumption of $25,000 in event costs prompted three state Assembly committees to launch an investigation of the Challenge earlier this year, focusing on whether public money was put to good use. At a hearing last week in Albany, ORDA President Ted Blazer told state Rep. Richard Brodsky (D) and other Assembly members that Sweeney’s office helped assemble lists of possible invitees to the event.

    The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) has tracked the state probe for months, but Blazer’s testimony opened a new front to use in trying to unseat Sweeney, who faces well-funded former Clinton administration counsel Kirsten Gillibrand. When the House ethics committee blessed Sweeney’s role in the Challenge, it told him to stay out of the initial invitation process.

    “Once the ORDA and the [U.S. Olympic Committee] — without your involvement — have issued an initial invitation to House members and staff to take part in the trip, you may send a follow-up to that invitation,” the ethics panel, known formally as the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, wrote to Sweeney last September.

    Both DCCC Chairman Rahm Emanuel (Ill.) and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) lambasted Sweeney last week for declining to appear before Brodsky’s committee, with the DNC saying Sweeney “completely ignored” the ethics committee’s guidance. Sweeney, meanwhile, said the Assembly inquiry is a coordinated attack by Democrats.

    ...In an election year when Democratic criticism has made Republicans wary of any appearance of improper relations with lobbyists and special interests, Sweeney has touted the trips — for which entertainment bills have topped $11,000 — as a valuable promotion of his district’s Olympic legacy and economic needs.

    The Assembly’s focus on the recreational elements of the Challenge, Sweeney said, “shows they don’t know what Lake Placid is.” Despite the House ethics rule requiring all travel to relate to members’ official duties, and the committee’s reminder that recreational activities must be “merely incidental to the trip,” Sweeney asserted that the committee “says it’s perfectly appropriate for me to promote the event.” ... (keep reading The Hill story here)

    Hello??? The trip is supposed to be for the purpose of inspecting the facilities not having a vacation;

    Sweeney's own filings show that when he took Johnny Sweeney to Lake Placid in 2002, his officially stated purpose of the event was to "inspect Lake Place Olympic facilities"

    The Hill makes little or no mention of the fact that the trip was attended by Sweeney supporters and lobbyists who have no bearing on Congressional Funding. Sweeney asked congress for about this as a congressional event, it is called the "Congressional Winter Challenge" not the "Lobbyist Challenge"

    Sweeney's only guest from congress outside of the state was Pete Sessions (R TX). Since Jan of 2006, Sessions' has given Sweeney's campaign $9,000 laundered via his PAC "People for Trade, Enterprise and Economic Growth". (FEC Filings)

    So Sessions no different from the other people at Sweeney's tax payer funded "Thank you very much" party.

    Check out the guest list of Sweeney supporters, lobbyists and loved ones you decide if this isn't another Sweeney Sham.

    Monday, July 17, 2006

    Sweeney's Campaign Strategy

    It goes something like this:

    Ignore that I've been in congress for nearly eight years.

    Your (mother- brother-cousin) is a bum.

    Now that's what democracy is all about.

    Sweeney's New Friends are No Pals of Ours

    Democracy in Albany has two posts up on fundraising in the 20th. Here is DIA's break down of the latest numbers.

    This DIA post lists some of Sweeney's biggest funders to date (including the Enron Supported group).

    If DIA's voter registration numbers haven't been updated yet, don't freak out, the bottom line is that Republicans are just 43% of the district's 456,144 voters.

    I suppose now we know why Sweeney is annoying Republicans like this one who says:

    So far, Mr. Sweeney's rocket scientist consultants have been absentminded about using the word R-E-P-U-B-L-I-C-A-N in the congressman's literature.

    Wimps. (Republican Blogger NCNY)

    Back to Sweeney's FEC filing. His newest PAC friends include Accenture PAC, which gave Sweeney $1,000 in the most recent reports. They are the PAC for the company that helps people outsource our jobs. They raised some controversy with winning a $10 Billion homeland security contract in 2004. I suppose they have to make nice with the appropriations folks now for some reason. And hurray for us law abiding US citizen taxpayers:

    Accenture is incorporated in Bermuda.

    For News on other campaign's funding see the WFP Post here

    In the News

    The Sweeney Campaign is set on attack mode in an effort to distract folks from his Congressional Ski Weekend ethics problems. The weekend always seems to lack the Congressional part. Sweeney refuses to testify under oath.

    Culture Kitchen has a good post about Sweeney and the Culture of Corruption. Read it here.

    A DC Blogger has ranked the district a "toss up":

    New York 20 - John Sweeney (R) vs Kirsten Gillibrand (D) - John Sweeney is in the race of his life against dynamo Gillibrand. Sweeney seems to have been knocked back on his heels by her aggressive campaign as she hit him on lobbyist paid trips early on. Local news had a field day with his trip to a frat party. This is a great pick up opportunity for the Democrats. Toss Up

    Why are the Sweeney Folks Obsessed with Beer?

    Sweeney spinner Michael Lisuzzo held a press conference during which he actually mentioned "the price of a six-pack at Stewart's". Maybe he was on his way to a frat party with Sweeney.

    In response to the Sweeney Campaign attack held outside of Gillibrand's place of employment (which is disclosed on Gillibrand's About page, no secret there), the Gillibrand team hit a home run:

    ..."These are false claims," said her spokeswoman, Allison Price.

    "The Gillibrands own one home. The Gillibrands have never owned a dog," she said. "When Mr. Lisuzzo wants to send the Gillibrands a six-pack from Stewart's to apologize for these lies, they would prefer root beer."...

    They moved to that house permanently in 2004 and no longer maintain an apartment in New York City, Price said.

    Sweeney, a Troy native, did not live in his congressional district when he ran the first time in 1998, Lisuzzo acknowledged Sunday. ...

    Price called the residency allegations "sophomoric attempts to run away from Sweeney's voting record." Gillibrand grew up in this region and is the granddaughter of Albany Democratic icon Dorothea "Polly" Noonan. (Source)

    All this hoopla over an old apartment when Sweeney didn't even live in the district when he ran. Gillibrand lived in the district before she was running. Anyway, what's good for the ostrich isn't good for the donkey, eh?

    Of course we all know that the Sweeney campaign is desperado to divert the press from his ethics problems.

    In other news: Gillibrand is mentioned in this Daily Gotham post

    Sunday, July 16, 2006

    Enron Funded Group in Sweeney's Top 5 Donors

    A group that was funded by Enron is one of Sweeney's Top 4 Campaign Donors: Rely on Your Beliefs.

    Who is Rely on Your Beliefs? It is a 527 run by Roy Blunt which faced ethics charges in Missouri in the past. What do they do?

    Each year, Rely On Your Beliefs collects hundreds of thousands of dollars from corporations, individuals and interest groups and distributes the money to congressional candidates who can't take the checks directly because of contribution limits in federal election law. (source)

    How sweet of them. Rely on Your Beliefs has given $12,000 to Sweeney since 1999. (FEC report here)

    If you think Enron is old news, bear in mind, it is Sweeney that dragged Enron into this campaign, not Kirsten Gillibrand.

    A Simple Fact: He's not in the Center.

    Check out the DNC post "By the Numbers: Cheney Stumps for Rubberstamp Ray":

    With Vice President Cheney set to arrive in Utica this evening to headline a special interest fundraiser for State Senator and Republican Congressional Candidate Ray Meier, the Democratic National Committee issued the following "By the Numbers" fact sheet on the Vice President's visit to Upstate New York.


    Roll Call of Bush Rubberstamps in New York's Congressional Delegation: New York already has eight Congressional Republicans who have put rubberstamping President Bush's failed leadership ahead of the people of New York. Do they really need another? * Representative Peter King has voted with President Bush 85% of the time. * Representative Vito Fossella has voted with President Bush 89% of the time. * Representative Sue Kelly has voted with President Bush 75% of the time. * Representative John Sweeney has voted with President Bush 80% of the time. * Representative John McHugh has voted with President Bush 82% of the time. * Representative Jim Walsh has voted with President Bush 88% of the time. * Representative Tom Reynolds has voted with President Bush 91% of the time. * Representative 'Randy' Kuhl has voted with President Bush 85% of the time.

    What their record has meant for New York

    In exchange for rubberstamping the President's failed leadership and misplaced priorities, what have these Bush Republicans brought home for the people of New York?

    * Over 175,900 manufacturing jobs have been lost in New York and family income has actually dropped by $28 since 2000. [BLS, 5/06; CPS, 10/05] * The average price of a gallon of gas has increased to $2.966 in the Utica-Rome region, up $.54 In the last year alone. [, 7/14/06] * There are 2,705,000 people without health insurance in New York, and the cost of health insurance for New Yorkers has increased by $538 - a 36% increase - since 2000. [KFF 2005; MEPS 2005; CPS, 10/05] * Budget cuts have pushed 12,351 veterans in New York out of the VA health care system. [VHA Policy & Forecasting 2/24/03, Projected to FY2005] * The Bush Congress's refusal to end the Disabled Veterans Tax has undermined retirement security for 5,006 veterans in New York. [Veterans Administration / Democratic Leader's Office, 6/05] * Because Republicans have failed to provide promised funding for education reforms, 300,605 children in New York have gone without help in reading and math and 167,302 have gone without after-school programs that boost academic achievement and keep kids safe. [CRS, 1/2006] * Bush Republicans tried to force through a risky scheme to undermine Social Security, which provides financial security and peace of mind to 3,024,130 people in New York. [NWLC 2/05]

    Sweeney votes how Bush wants him to 80% of the time, the Post Star covers the Esquire article that calls Sweeney hard-right (fittingly we might add) and what does it quote Sweeney as? A "Centrist". Sweeney lives in a place where the voters are centrist, but he hasn't voted centrist.