Tuesday, July 18, 2006

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.

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