Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Sweeney's Blank Givers ... Un-blanketed Here

Since the first one we posted was quite popular. Here are more of John Sweeney's Campaign Donors who somehow can't remember what they do for a living when they give to John Sweeney. Jobs are for little people. Oh wait, most of them had jobs that were easy to find in an online search. Disclosure is for little people. Compliance is for little people, I get it.

  • $1,000 Axiom Capital LLC - No name given. Isn't it against the law to accept funds that don't come from an individual?
  • $2,100 John Canner also didn't provide an address or employer.
  • $500 William Stephen Cannon shows up on Circuit City Insider Trade Reports as an Officer. And the Badbusinessbureau.com says that in DC, "he was going to get disbarred but reached a plea agreement at the last minute, paid back a few thousand dollars and got off with nothing else but a slap on the wrist."
  • $500 James D. Cronley is the co-owner of Terhaar and Cronley in Pensacola FL. I guess you could say he's a developer ... if you were so inclined. Looks like "certain violations may have been committed" by him and others, he was "absolved" by the FL Board of Elections in connection with HOPE Pac (Housing Opportunities for People Everywhere).
  • $1,000 Harlan Crow is the owner of Crow Realty Investors. And is President of Crow Holdings. Mr. Crow has got his own page at Sourcewatch.

News Rounds

Fox News' Martin Frost has our district in his races to watch on election night:

...I am now even more certain that Democrats will take control of the House and believe the net gain will be at least 30 seats and that we will certainly know the outcome early in the evening. My optimism is fueled by the Mark Foley-page scandal and the worsening situation in Iraq.

Here’s my updated list of races to watch by time zone.

Let’s start by noting that the Democrats’ magic number is now 12, rather than 15. Democrats clearly will win DeLay’s old seat in Texas (the Republicans must run a write-in campaign that is virtually impossible with new electronic voting machines), Foley’s seat (under a bizarre Florida election statute voters must vote for Foley in order to have their votes counted for the replacement nominee) and Jim Kolbe’s seat in Arizona (Republicans have given up on this race).

New York: All of a sudden there are six Republican seats in New York in play: seats currently held by Sherwood Boehlert (who is retiring), John Sweeney, Randy Kuhl, Tom Reynolds, Sue Kelly and Jim Walsh. Two victories mean that Democrats are on their way. Any more than that is the leading edge of a wipeout. Defeating Reynolds would be particularly sweet for Democrats since he is the current chairman of the House Republican campaign committee.

In today's NY Daily News:

A state official ruled that the New York State Police improperly denied a request for information about police responses to the home of powerful Republican Rep. John Sweeney. The executive director of the state's Committee on Open Government, Robert Freeman, ruled in a July advisory opinion that the police had no right to refuse the request from a producer at WNYT-TV in Albany.

The station requested records indicating the number of times the police had been called to the home of Sweeney, a former executive director of the state Republican Party who represents the Albany area. The state police refused on the grounds that releasing such records would violate privacy.

There is no indication whether or not such records exist.

The state police .response was "inconsistent with law," Freeman wrote in his opinion, which was given to WNYT but not publicly released. "When a trooper or police officer is called to a certain location, the presence of that person with his or her .vehicle, again, is not secret."

Sweeney is normally a safe incumbent, but the gregarious congressman faces a tough battle for reelection against .Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand after a series of personal and public embarrassments.

Sweeney was photographed this year disheveled at a fraternity party with students, and the state Democratic Party has demanded Sweeney release "records documenting his arrests and drunk driving incidents to the media."

Sweeney's office didn't respond to requests for comment on the story, though he has said he has nothing to hide.

The chief counsel for the state police, Glenn Valle, said in an e-mailed statement that they disagree with Freeman's opinion. "When the state police investigates a matter, and makes no arrest, the persons involved have a recognized privacy interest, and public disclosure would violate that interest," he wrote. "The policy is applied in any case, irrespective of the identity or position of any individual involved."

And the Majority Watch Round Two Poll is still showing Gillibrand ahead. Not that we care what polls say, but still it is more recent than the last independent poll.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Call the Coward

Per today's Post Star:
Recommendation: There's still a week left until Election Day. Mr. Sweeney and Ms. Gillibrand still have time to accept any of the numerous invitations they've received to face each other on the same stage. ...
Gillibrand has already agreed to debate Sweeney. Call John Sweeney's office and tell him it is time to stop hiding behind excuses and start debating the issues: Sweeney's office number is 373-9595.

Sweeney's Got Friends in High Places

And he doesn't want you to know what they do for a living. John Sweeney's single largest campaign contributor is blank $241,000 in campaign contributions came from individuals without an identified employer. Let's take it from the top and start with the A's:

Sherri and Jared Abbruzzese are both donors who did not declare any employer for their $2,000 each donation to John Sweeney (R-NY) in this election cycle. The couple's total donations to Sweeney to date is $7,000.

Jared Abbruzzese as acting CEO of WSNet, testified before congress for a merger: WSNet believes that the EchoStar/DIRECTV merger should go forward with the addition of some modifications that would afford WSNet permanent access to enhanced satellite facilities.

Abbruzzese in business trouble per a Dec. 2005 story in BusinessWeek:

...When I dug a little deeper, I found a web of intrigue so tangled that Peter Parker couldn't find his way out of it. Even in this scandal-a-day era, the backstage drama at this company is off the charts.

The current brouhaha centers on a legal battle between Motient's board and its largest shareholder, Dallas (Tex.)-based hedge fund Highland Capital Management. To complicate matters, Highland president James D. Dondero is a member of Motient's board and is pitted against the other six directors, who allege that he voted to approve some of the measures he now condemns.

In August, Highland sued Motient's officers and directors in Chancery Court of Delaware, claiming the defendants tried to line their pockets with Motient's cash by paying exorbitant fees to firms in which they held interests. The suit focuses especially on Motient chairman Steven G. Singer, his brother and convicted felon Gary A. Singer, and former Motient director Jared E. Abbruzzese.

According to the complaint, Motient hired Abbruzzese's Albany (NY)-based consultancy Communication Technology Advisors (CTA) in May 2002 to provide financial advice while Abbruzzese was still a director at Motient. At the time, two other CTA employees, Peter D. Aquino and Gerald S. Kittner, were also Motient directors. Since then, CTA has functioned as Motient's de facto executive management and has received over $3 million in fees and tens of millions of dollars worth of warrants to buy Motient stock, Highland's complaint says.

The complaint further claims that Abbruzzese and CTA in 2004 pressured Motient's board to hire a small Austin (Tex.)-based investment bank, Tejas Inc., to raise money for Motient. However, Abbruzzese allegedly failed to disclose that he owned options to buy 100,000 shares of Tejas. As a result of fees and warrants paid by Motient, Tejas' annual profit increased over 2,600%, and the Tejas shares underlying Abbruzzese's options appreciated 900% in one year. In March 2005, Motient appointed Barry A. Williamson to its board, a Tejas director who owns over 51,000 Tejas shares. In May 2005, Tejas announced it would acquire CTA for $65 million. Abbruzzese was appointed vice chairman of Tejas and granted a generous employment agreement and stock-option package.

Abbruzzese's alleged conflicts run deeper. In fiscal year 2004, Motient lost $72 million on revenues of $36.9 million. What, then, accounts for its $1.3 billion market cap? The company has a 40% stake in Mobile Satellite Ventures (MSV), a Reston (Va.)-based provider of mobile satellite communications that owns valuable spectrum licenses. MSV is a limited partnership, and its general partner is Motient Satellite Ventures GP, Inc., whose managers are Abbruzzese and Kittner of CTA. "Motient’s purchases of MSV units in 2004 at prices that reflected ever increasing valuations of MSV enriched Kittner, Abbruzzese and CTA through their ownership of MSV units," Highland's complaint says.

Jared E. Abbruzzese, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of CAI Wireless Systems, Inc.: defendent in a Class Action Lawsuit as CAI Wireless Systems:

Plaintiffs bring this action ... on behalf of a class (the "Class") of persons who purchased or otherwise acquired CAI securities during the period from May 23, 1996, through and including October 29, 1996 (the "Class Period"), and were damaged thereby.

Feb 18, 2005: Serves on the Board of Friends of NY Racing as:

Jared Abbruzzese, Capital and Technology Advisors, LLC and a New York Thoroughbred owner

Jan 13, 2006. Randall's Island and Republican Party Dougnations:

A private developer’s plans to develop a water park on Randall’s Island jumped a hurdle yesterday after the city’s Franchise and Concession Review Committee voted to let the project move forward. This boondoggle of a project would further alienate precious greenspace.

Very curious as to how some craaaazy project like this could even get a hearing in Parks department ...The folks behind this are big time republicans... Main capital investor and savior of aquatic development corporation is: Jared Abbruzzese Jared Abbruzzese contributed $25,000$ in 2000 to NY State elected officials Is a member with Greg Norman at the Medalist Golf Club where Bush and Clinton play . Jared Abbruzzese of Loudonville , the former CEO of CAI Wireless Systems Inc. which was named in lawsuits alleging various violations of the federal securities laws, apparently is a major donor to “Swift Boat Veterans For Truth,” according to FEC filings. (This is a 146 page pdf that might take a while to load. It can be found at www.publicintegrity.org)

The group, committed to smearing Sen. John Kerry, has been challenged due to misleading, false or inconsistent statements.

The Swift Boat group reported total donations of more than 1.9 million in a September FEC filing.

Also funded the halt of the 2000 election recount:

Presidential Recount Donors: Address Occupation Amount Date

11/20/2000 Abbruzzese, Jared Loudonville, NY 12211 CAI Wireless Systems $5,000

11/16/2000 Abbruzzese, Sherrie G Mr Loudonville, NY 12211 CAI Wireless Systems $5,000


More repub campaign trail

Jan 14, 2006 07:34PM EST

Candidate or PAC Amount Date Abbruzzese, Sherrie G Mrs. Londonville, NY 12211 Homemaker REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE (R) $25,000 primary 06/16/05 Abbruzzese, Jared E Mr. Loudonville, NY 12211 Self-Employed/Executive REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE (R) $25,000 primary 06/16/05 Abbruzzese, Jared E Mr. Loudonville, NY 12211 Capital & Technology Advisors/Inves HOPEFUND $5,000 primary 05/09/05 Abbruzzese, Sherrie G Ms. Loudonville, NY 12211 Capital & Technology Advisors/Inves HOPEFUND $5,000 primary 05/09/05 Abbruzzese, Jared E Albany, NY 12211 Self/Executive NATIONAL THOROUGHBRED RACING ASSOCIATION POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE/HORSE PAC $1,000 primary 11/30/04 Abbruzzese, Sherrie G Albany, NY 12211 Housewife NATIONAL THOROUGHBRED RACING ASSOCIATION POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE/HORSE PAC $1,000 primary 11/30/04 Abbruzzese, Anthony Mr. Massapequa, NY 11758 Horizon Consulting Group/Accountant REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE (R) $500 primary 10/26/04 Abbruzzese, Sherrie G Mrs. Londonville, NY 12211 Homemaker REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE (R)

I think that is enough scandal and taint for one day.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Gillibrand in Saratoga

Gillibrand appears in the Spa City
SARATOGA SPRINGS -- Supporters gathered at the Beekman St. Artist's Co-op Saturday afternoon to raise money for Kirsten Gillibrand, the Democratic candidate for New York's 20th Congressional District.

This is the final stretch for Gillibrand with nine days until the Nov. 7 election against incumbent Republican John Sweeney.

Amejo Amyot, founder of the Beekman St. Artist's Co-op, said this was a chance for the local artists to show their support of Gillibrand. They donated 25 pieces of artwork for a silent auction to support Gillibrand's campaign. The auction will run until Thursday.

'I hope you spend the next few days talking about what matters and don't stop talking about this race,' Gillibrand said. 'Tell people why you're voting for me and you'll win that vote.'

Gillibrand said the voice is incredibly powerful.

'When we do win, each one of you can say you helped change the direction of America,' Gillibrand said.

Amyot presented Gillibrand with a sculpture of a wise owl that she made, showing her support for the congressional candidate.

Saratoga Springs City Supervisor Joanne Yepsen attended, showing her support for a fellow woman in politics. She said Gillibrand realizes that arts and education are important.

'She's a candidate that understands this is for our kids,' Yepsen said.

Gillibrand agrees and thinks this election comes to down to what is best for our children. She said Yepsen has been a model of leadership for her during this campaign.

'I'm really looking forward to Election Day so we can introduce her as the next congresswoman of the 20th district,' Yepsen said.

Gillibrand believes arts enrich communities and families. She said the arts came to Hudson where she grew up and now it's a jewel.

'When arts adopt a place, it rejuvenates a community,' she said.

Gillibrand told the artists that Congress isn't doing its job when it comes to checks and balances on the president.

'Each branch has to keep the other in check,' she said.

She's also worried about security issues in regard to families and how the Sept. 11 Commission's recommendations aren't all being used.

'I expect the Federal Government to put our families first,' she said.

Another important piece of Gillibrand's campaign is health care. The issue of health care is something she thinks the government should spend money on preventive care, and not emergency care. She said more competition in health care is needed.

'Everyone feels the pinch,' Gillibrand said. 'Each issue matters.'

During her campaign, Gillibrand has spoken to more than 70 farmers and many of them are in the red.

She said if they go under, New York will lose heritage and what makes upstate New York beautiful.

The event gave supporters a chance to meet and ask Gillibrand concerns they have. One question queried how she would interact with the other members of Congress if elected.

'I'm very cooperative,' Gillibrand said. 'It's about leadership -- not what party you're in. I will look forward working with everyone in Congress to solve the issues.'

Carol Blowers of Burnt Hills thinks America needs more women in Congress.

'I'm thrilled we have another woman running,' Blowers said.

OpEd: Taking on the Post Star Endorsement

Go figure. The Post Star says that Sweeney is a bold faced liar who ignores us until election time while Gillibrand gets high marks from seniors and labor yet for some reason it has endorsed John Sweeney.

In spite of the fact that Gillibrand has been traveling the district and talking to voters here for over a year, the PS is not so sure that means that she has the experience to do the job.

That's idiotic, if Sweeney can "represent" us between his running to Florida to "shut down" a vote count, crashing into utility poles, making drunken appearances at frat parties and selling out to sweatshop owners, boat builders and other lobbyist donors, well then I say pretty much any average voter could do a better job than Sweeney has done in congress.

Kirsten Gillibrand is a qualified candidate. She will do a better job than Sweeney.

The fact that she's not been involved in congress is a benefit given the corruption there today. The Post Star's rationale here, is basically one that has to do with pork and time served.

All leaders send home pork. It isn't hard to do, and it is after all, our money, not theirs that they are "giving" or "getting" us. Often these giveaways are the result of the hard work of grant writers whose work is totally ignored when the funding is passed out by elected leaders. Why are the Grant authors ignored? Well, that was their job. And that is why I think we should ignore Sweeney's pork work when we consider his work - that is just one part of his job.

And when one looks at where the experience has taken the people in congress today - down a path of corruption, out of control spending, a mismanaged war and a much harder life for average families here at home - then it seems that not having worked in Congress before is a good thing not a bad one.

The PS was too worried that Gillibrand will win, so they included the following caveat:

The case against John Sweeney

For those not familiar with the congressman's record, you'd have a difficult time learning about it from the candidate. Rather than highlight his record in ads or by debating his opponent in front of voters, the congressman has lowered the tenor of the campaign by running attack ads and attack mailings almost exclusively.

He's not above hyperbole and even bold-faced lying -- whether it be calling his opponent's husband a "war profiteer" and her a "carpetbagger" in the face of facts to the contrary.

He hasn't been forthcoming about some of his past encounters with police, and his explanations for his frat-party escapades and his "fact-finding" jaunts to ski chalets and exotic islands with lobbyists are embarrassingly inadequate.

On legislation, he has sided with the Republican administration on many of its failed initiatives, including continuing the war in Iraq, extending tax breaks for the rich and opposing an increase in the minimum wage (which he eventually voted for). He has softened his position on the U.S. role in Iraq, but that's probably only because public support for the war, even among Republicans, is waning.

The case for Kirsten Gillibrand

Gillibrand has a strong grasp on national issues, which will help her hit the ground running in Congress. As an attorney for 15 years, she understands the legal system and the legislative process.

It's possible she could end up in the majority party in the House, which will definitely help her more than being a Democrat in a Republican-controlled House. And even if she was a minority party member, the area has other representation in Congress to ensure our local congresswoman wouldn't come home empty-handed.

Gillibrand has offered a plan for gradually drawing down the number of troops from Iraq on a flexible timetable that wouldn't leave the Iraqis unprepared to defend themselves.

She has taken moderate positions on controversial issues such as gun control, and she's pushing for new uses of alternative energy and rail transportation. Her positions in issues affecting senior citizens and labor have brought her high marks from those constituencies.

While not articulating a strong local agenda [energy independence won't help locals? bringing our troops home won't help locals?], she plans to reach out to local residents by holding monthly town-hall-like forums in her district, whereas Sweeney only seems to show up around election time.

For the most part, she has tried to talk about the issues and has sought many opportunities to debate Sweeney, all of which he refused. She will be accessible to citizens, and has the poise, character and knowledge of issues to build consensus in Washington on issues important to the 20th Congressional District.

Gillibrand has offered a plan for gradually drawing down the number of troops from Iraq on a flexible timetable that wouldn't leave the Iraqis unprepared to defend themselves. She has taken moderate positions on controversial issues such as gun control, and she's pushing for new uses of alternative energy and rail transportation. Her positions in issues affecting senior citizens and labor have brought her high marks from those constituencies.

While not articulating a strong local agenda, she plans to reach out to\local residents by holding monthly town-hall-like forums in her district, whereas Sweeney only seems to show up around election time. For the most part, she has tried to talk about the issues and has sought many opportunities to debate Sweeney, all of which he refused. She will be accessible to citizens, and has the poise, character and knowledge of issues to build consensus in Washington on issues\important to the 20th Congressional District.

The Granville Sentinel did a better job than the Post Star did with its endorsement of this race.

Answer this: Are you better off today than you were when Sweeney took office?

For the voters of this district, the answer is a resounding NO. Sweeney does not deserve to keep his seat in congress for that reason alone. He's a Republican leader with a Republican governor, and a Republican congress, a Republican President - there is just no blaming anyone else for his failed leadership.

Blog Round Up

When John Sweeney's comments on Bill Clinton's visit in support of Kirsten Gillibrand were reported by the Times Union (see link in Tommywonk's post below), it got Sweeney in deep water with economic thinkers. Sweeney doesn't just turn a blind eye to sweatshops, he turns a blind eye to any reality that is not in line with Karl Rove's talking points.

Tommywonk takes the time to fill us in on "John Sweeney's shortcomings in the area of critical thinking"

And Angrybear covers the same story here.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Senior Coalition or Drug Company Coalition? You tell us.

If you live here, you are wondering who is the Senior Coalition and why are they thinking that I'd ever want to vote for John Sweeney?

A letter to the editor in today's Post Star tells all:

The recent mailing by "The Senior Coalition" is a blatant example of non-truth on behalf of Mr. Sweeney.

The Senior Coalition is a thinly disguised organization largely funded by "Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America," and we know whose side they're on. The Senior Coalition asks that we encourage Mr. Sweeney to fight against H.R. 752, the Medicare Prescription Drug Savings and Choice Act. This bill would require that Medicare negotiate with suppliers for the best possible prices. Imagine the pharmaceutical industry agreeing to that.

The Senior Coalition would have Mr. Sweeney work to have Congress undo the 1993 tax changes on Social Security benefits of the Clinton administration. He doesn't tell us that these taxes were on the Social Security benefits of those with the highest adjusted gross incomes. Removing this tax change would be a boondoggle for the wealthiest of the Social Security recipients and add to the burden of the rest of the senior community.

The Senior Coalition would keep people from buying their prescription drugs in places like Canada where they cost a fraction of their price in the U.S. They've got Mr. Sweeney to help in that.

With "friends" like these, we don't need enemies. To turn Mr. Sweeney loose again in Congress is liking sending a wolf to watch the chickens getting plucked. Again.



Friday, October 27, 2006

Full Story: Salon on the 20th district race

GOP singing the blues in New York?

In the reliably Republican 20th District, a strong Democratic challenger gains on Abramoff-tinged incumbent John Sweeney.

By Walter Shapiro

Oct. 27, 2006 | It was a scene out of the worst Republican nightmare. There was a beaming Hillary Clinton, the senator who has replaced Ted Kennedy in GOP demonology, triumphantly telling a packed political rally at the Lakeview Restaurant here Monday afternoon, "It will be wonderful to go back to Washington after this election and be in the majority where we can set the agenda."

This town in rural Rensselaer County is normally too politically insignificant to merit a visit from the likes of Hillary Clinton, despite her ardent courtship of upstate voters. The Democratic county chairman in his introductory remarks claimed, perhaps hyperbolically, that the last campaigning Senate candidate to visit Rensselaer County was a fellow named Bobby Kennedy in 1964.

That Hillary was here Monday afternoon and Bill Clinton turned up at a rally at the Albany airport on Thursday morning has nothing whatsoever to do with the most lopsided Senate race in the nation. Both Clintons -- the most potent two-fer in Democratic politics -- were lending their star power to first-time congressional candidate Kirsten Gillibrand, a 39-year-old antitrust lawyer, who has managed through an early start, potent fundraising and a polished campaign to be running a competitive race on some of the most loyal Republican turf in the Northeast.

In the unenviable vaudeville slot of following the headliner (Hillary), Gillibrand first hailed Sen. Clinton as her "role model," a claim underlined by the fact that both women sported black pantsuits and frosted blond hair. Then, to a receptive audience of 250 party activists, Gillibrand made a liberal lawyer's case for change in Washington. "We have a president who has spent the last two years consolidating presidential power," she declared, "and he has done it at the expense of our democracy." Gillibrand denounced presidential signing statements, NSA warrantless wiretapping and no-bid contracts for Iraqi reconstruction. Much of her 13-minute speech was nearly identical to the pitch that Gillibrand made Monday morning in New York City as she collected $40,000 at a breakfast fundraiser at a blue-ribbon midtown law firm.

New York's 20th Congressional District -- which stretches more than 200 miles along the Hudson River from the Franklin Roosevelt homestead in the south to Lake Placid in the north, veering into the Albany suburbs but avoiding all major cities -- was engineered to be a safe GOP haven. There are almost as many registered Republicans in the district (198,000) as Democrats and independents combined (222,000). George W. Bush carried the district twice, most recently with a comfortable 54 percent of the vote. Four-term incumbent John Sweeney, 51, won his prior three elections by 2-to-1 margins over hapless Democratic candidates who barely raised enough money to pay for hand-drawn lawn signs.

But these days, both the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and its Republican counterpart are investing heavily in TV ads in the district, which is the best indicator that both sides consider the race close. As in most House races, the published poll results here are confusing and probably not a reliable barometer for Election Day. Siena College released a survey last week showing Sweeney up 53-to-39 percent with a 4 percent margin of error. Two recent Democratic Party polls, released to the press, give Gillibrand a small lead.

So why is Sweeney's hold on the district so threatened -- and what does that say about the volatile politics of 2006? Maybe that just as the South first began voting in lockstep fashion for Republican presidential candidates and then a decade later started electing an overwhelmingly Republican congressional delegation, the reverse may now be happening up north. The Northeast has been nearly solid blue in the last four presidential contests (John Kerry carried every state in the region in 2004). The race in the 20th District suggests that a full-ticket shift to the Democrats may be under way even in rural, upstate New York.

In some corners of the Northeast, only the quality of the candidates is holding the Democrats back, most notably in Western New York, where quirky 73-year-old businessman Jack Davis could not be a weaker challenger to tainted incumbent Tom Reynolds. In the Sweeney district, quality seems to be exclusively a Republican issue.

Two headlines from the Albany Times-Union convey the extent of Sweeney's woes. Here is a hard-to-spin, legislator-in-trouble classic from April: "Sweeney denies being drunk at frat party -- Congressman says Democrats trying to make an issue of event." (What is indisputable, based on photographic evidence, is that Sweeney was at the Alpha Delta Phi house at Union College after midnight on a weekend with a feeling-no-pain look on his face.)

Then last week the Times-Union stoked the embers of a famous but fading congressional scandal with this front-page story: "Sweeney trip in question -- Visit to U.S. territory with Jack Abramoff associate possibly broke rules." (The newspaper discovered that a 2001 Sweeney junket to the Northern Marianas Islands with Abramoff sidekick Tony Rudy should have been disclosed on the congressman's ethics forms.)

Democrats have made Sweeney's scruples the subject of attack ads, and Gillibrand has also demanded that Sweeney list all his "run-ins with the law," a reference to a questionable late-night traffic accident in 2001. Yet the 20th District is so reliably Republican that the frat-house follies and the unearthing of a link to a convicted lobbyist would ordinarily not be enough to jeopardize Sweeney's congressional career. The two other ingredients in the mix are Bush and Iraq -- a potent combination that plays into Gillibrand's constitutional-law lament about the death of checks and balances in Washington.

After the speech in Sand Lake, Gillibrand and I chatted over coffee and dessert (which a loyal Democrat from an adjoining table insisted on ordering for the candidate and her party) in the downstairs portion of the restaurant, suddenly quiet after the departure of hundreds of rapturous Clinton fans. I asked Gillibrand to explain why she did not mention the corruption issue and Sweeney's ties to lobbyists in her political pitches. "In today's events," she said, "I really felt it was more important to talk about what my vision for change was."

Seconds later, I tried again by asking how much of the contest is national (Bush) and how much is local (Sweeney and his discontents). "Half of this race is about the need for a new direction in our government, accountability and the restoration of checks and balances," Gillibrand said, almost unconsciously parroting the words of her stump speech. By the time she got to "putting the priorities of the middle class first," I too was running on autopilot. Finally, Gillibrand returned to the question by saying, "The second half of the race is about the congressman himself and his voting record." Then Gillibrand veered off again into a discussion of Sweeney's votes on veterans benefits before ending with a brief reference to the incumbent's failure to provide "ethics and accountability."

Part of the problem with interviewing Gillibrand (or Sweeney had he been available) at this stage of the campaign is that any question is seen as a potential minefield that could end up in an opponent's attack ad. Gillibrand can be insightful and spontaneous when the tape recorder is put away and the conversation is labeled off-the-record. She has the easy poise of a high-powered attorney -- she is a partner in the same firm as David Boies, Al Gore's lawyer in the Florida recount -- but also a certain earnestness. Occasionally, the real person shone through during our formal interview, such as when Gillibrand admitted her astonishment that voters began flocking to her at public events after she began running TV commercials. "If I could give advice to any candidate, it's put your ads up early," she said. "When I went to those county fairs [over the summer], people didn't necessarily want to meet me because I was a candidate for Congress. They wanted to meet me because I was on TV."

Sitting in Washington, it is easy to label this race an Abramoff-related contest because of the incumbent's ties to the lobbyist. But in the district itself, Sweeney's 2001 trip to the Northern Marianas has far less vote-getting potential than the congressman's involvement in a penny-ante scandal involving Lake Placid. Sweeney had arranged for dozens of lobbyists who had been active in his campaigns to attend a promotional ski weekend at Lake Placid paid for by a New York state government entity.

"I think it really affected the voters," Gillibrand said, "because it was about their taxpayer dollars being spent for the congressman to have a luxury getaway weekend for his friends and family... It's real because it's local. People know where Lake Placid is. They've been there many times."

Another oddity of the race is that the two candidates have never really met, dealing with each other instead as abstractions. As Gillibrand explains it, their only two encounters were at a county fair over the summer (neither of them got within hand-shaking distance) and at a charity event for the racetrack workers at Saratoga. Sweeney, in keeping with the above-the-fray tradition of front-runners never deigning to acknowledge their foes, has refused to debate Gillibrand.

Instead, this is a campaign built around dueling TV ads on Albany stations where the airtime is comparatively inexpensive. Perhaps the strongest indication that Sweeney knows that he is in trouble came with the airing this week of an ad in which the scandal-scarred incumbent speaks directly to the camera with his wife at his side. Sweeney, whose face has become puffy in response to the steroids that he is taking to reduce swelling in his blood vessels, declares, "My opponent's campaign is in the gutter. Gillibrand and her liberal allies have attacked me and intimidated my wife, smeared my children with negative fliers and lies."

Even by the standards of scorched-earth campaigns, it is hypocritical for Sweeney to cry foul. His team has run a series of attack ads going after Gillibrand's grandmother (a legendary matriarch in local Albany politics), her father (a state-government lobbyist) and her husband (for owning stock in a defense contractor). But the bigger irony is that John Sweeney, a four-term House insider with once glowing career prospects, is fighting for his life in a district that seemed as reliably Republican as... well... the Congress itself.

-- By Walter Shapiro

(Salon.com link)

More Quotes in Today's Post Star

Bill Clinton on:

* President Bush's tax cuts: "Right now, I am the most important person in the entire world -- because to the Republican leadership in the Congress and the White House, I am a millionaire, and they love each and every one."

* Corrupt lobbyist Jack Abramoff: "Karl Rove said that he was just a casual acquaintance. And then when they obtained the records, he had been 485 times to the White House. .... Maybe to get to know someone you have to be there 486 times."

* Federal budget deficit: "This year, they (Republicans) asked for a merit badge because the deficit was only $350 billion."

* Political influence: "I've never seen anything like it. Do you know the number of lobbyists has doubled since I left office?"

The Bill Clinton Rally for Gillibrand

Clinton rallies the faithful: Former president brings star power to Gillibrand campaign

Published on 10/27/2006 in the Post Star

COLONIE * The roar inside the Million Air private maintenance hangar at Albany International Airport on Thursday wasn't coming from a 747.

It was the sound of star power, as former President Bill Clinton whipped up enthusiasm to carry supporters of Democratic congressional candidate Kirsten Gillibrand through the last 12 days of her campaign.

"Here's what I want to say to you: Don't give up on anybody." Clinton told the crowd, ... "Don't even give up on Republicans who say they've never voted for a Democrat before." ...

"Frankly, I was sent here," he said, going on to explain Thursday was his wife's birthday.

"I said, 'What do you want me to do on your birthday?' " to which the ex-president said the senator answered, "'Well, I want you to go to upstate New York and help out Kirsten Gillibrand. And while you're up there, try to get me a few votes if you can.'"

From Albany, Clinton was scheduled to fly on to rallies in Syracuse and Long Island before attending his wife's 59th birthday party in Manhattan on Thursday evening. ...

Gillibrand is hoping votes from independents and some Republicans will put her over the top.

"This election is about so much more than Republicans or Democrats," she told the crowd. "It's about the direction our country is going." ...

"People are tired, but you can't get tired now," said Washington County Democratic Chairwoman Sheila Comar.

"Having Clinton come -- it says, 'She can win,' " said Sarah Hussa, a campaign volunteer from Queensbury.

Several area politicians got a morale boost by appearing on the same stage as Clinton.

Some 20 elected officials, labor leaders and activists spoke in a nearly two-hour stretch reminiscent of testimony time at an Evangelical revival meeting.

Organizers attempted to time the flow of speeches to coincide with the arrival of Clinton and U.S Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., who got in on separate flights.

"First he was behind, and they said, 'Can you talk longer?' " said Timothy Merrick, Democratic candidate for state Senate. "Then they said, 'Can you talk shorter?' "

Merrick, who is running against state Sen. Elizabeth Little, R-Queensbury, said he met Clinton briefly backstage and they shook hands.

"He said, 'It's good to meet you,' " Merrick said.

Hudson Falls Mayor and state Assembly candidate David Carter and Saratoga Democratic Chairman Larry Bulman also spoke.

Bulman spoke in his role as secretary/treasurer and state political director of the New York State Pipe Trades union.

Clinton said he wanted to hold the event at Saratoga County Airport, but it was unclear if the weather would allow landing of his plane there.

"I hope I can come back to Saratoga," he said.

Bulman said he and the former president spoke backstage and Clinton asked for his business card.

Clinton said he wanted to go to Saratoga to play golf and watch horse racing, Bulman said.

In his speech, Clinton said his mother, a big horse-racing fan, wanted to come to Saratoga when she had cancer.

"One of the things she most wanted to do while she was still on the face of the Earth was to go to Saratoga and see the races, and she got it done," he said.

In closing, Clinton said volunteering on political campaigns can be daunting.

"This is scary for some of you folks," [actually, he was talking about die-hard Republicans who are planning to vote Democratic this time, not the Democrats in the room, when he said that - LM] he said. "It's like the first time you ever jumped off a diving board."

Clinton urged volunteers to be vigilant in getting voters to the polls.

"You've got to go grab them by the hand and look them in the eye and tell them what kind of person she (Gillibrand) is. Tell them what kind of America you want to build, and jump off that diving board with them."

Staff writer Charles Fiegl contributed to this report.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Must See YouTube

Watch President Bill Clinton's speech at the Kirsten Gillibrand Rally today right here. And Part 2 here. The President talks about Sweeney's trip to the Mariana Islands and "Abramoff Amnesia" in the second clip.

Early Edition

Read about Former President Bill Clinton's visit to the area in support of Kirsten Gillibrand here.

I can't find it in the free version of the paper, but the Post Star's Maury Thompson has an article in today's paper about Gillibrand:

Gillibrand touts tourism, agriculture in address

Democratic candidate speaks to Glens Falls Kiwanis Club members

GLENS FALLS -- Democratic congressional candidate Kirsten Gillibrand said she wants to be a champion of agriculture and tourism in the Adirondacks and the Hudson River valley.

"The federal government used to have a role in doing that," Gillibrand said in a speech to the Glens Falls Kiwanis Club.

"There used to be a program that gave money for tourism -- international tourism in particular. Lake Placid was one of the first recipients of that kind of money," said Gillibrand, who is running against incumbent U.S. Rep. John Sweeney, R-Clifton Park.

As well as seeking federal support, Gillibrand pledged to personally tout the region.

In an interview after the speech, Gillibrand said if elected, she would initiate a tourism program modeled after the Farm to Fork program U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., started.

Clinton's program helps upstate farmers network with owners and chefs of New York City restaurants.

Gillibrand said she would work to make similar linkages in tourism, and also to expand local outlets for farm products.

"Over and over again, our farmers have been telling me they are struggling," she said in her speech.

Gillibrand said she has already asked Democratic House leaders to appoint her to the House Agriculture Committee if she is elected.

Among other issues, Gillibrand, a lawyer from Greenport, outside the city of Hudson, said if elected, she would join Democratic leaders in calling for the reversal of some of President Bush's tax cuts.

"I would support a reversal of tax cuts for families earning more than a million dollars," she said.

Sweeney has called for making President Bush's tax cuts permanent.

Gillibrand reiterated her opposition to privatizing Social Security.

"If you're 65 and the stock market crashes, you're on your own. And you will have no safety net," she said.

Gillibrand also said President Bush should set a deadline to begin withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Tech Valley Times Endorsement

The Tech Valley Times weighs in on the 20th U.S. Congressional District:

Here’s the fun race to observe. The fact that incumbent John Sweeney is in for a real dogfight against a previously unknown challenger in an overwhelmingly Republican district is testament to the widespread loathing for George Bush and the revenge being sought of his supporters. Mr Sweeney certainly falls into that classification and is paying the price. The campaign is certainly filling the bank accounts of the local media outlets, with a barrage of commercials and display ads being pushed in front of the voters' eyeballs by both parties. It acts as a perfect example of the mean spirited divide in today's public sphere. Along those lines: enough of the "Sweeney visits the frat house" focus. Sure, the internet video is pretty funny and all, but this thing has long outlived what should have been a half-day life cycle. The continued harping on it is simply proof how uptight we've become in today's neo-Puritan environment, where a public facade of being a choir boy has become a de rigueur requirement of Joe and Jane Voter, even while they're each engaging in an extramarital affair or gambling binge of their own. We actually think that a trip to a college beer blast now and then could be a healthy thing for an elected official! But that's about all the slack we're giving the Sweeney campaign. His commercials and policy statements are dishonest, deceitful, and an insult to our collective intelligence. The latest one, where he sets the wife down next to him on the couch and defends her and the rest of his family from unsubstantiated attacks and harassment from his rival's supporters, reeks of paranoia. This wife, by the way, is the one taking a commission on incoming campaign contributions. Combine these ethical lapses with the myriad of other ethical charges dogging the Congressman -- plus the fact that he refuses to debate -- and we start to get a little nervous about this guy. We've got an even bigger concern with Mr. Sweeney, though. Even though one should not put too much weight into a legislator's position on a single issue, there is one policy stance out there that troubles us deeply. It should also concern anyone remotely interested in high tech economic development. This issue is the hot button topic of Net Neutrality; the changing of current common carrier telecomm rules so that an internet service provider is set free to devise any type of multi-tiered pricing structure it deems fit. The result will be a system where you pay $X but I pay $Y for a throughput speed of Z. Those companies that can pay for highest speeds will get them while those that can't, won't. Now who do you think this is going to favor: your blog or the Times Union’s? In this world of media consolidation, we know the answer to that question. The big boys will grudgingly pay it, passing the cost on to consumers or advertisers. As the lines between carriers and content producers blur, a Time Warner will be able to give a sweetheart deal of lightning fast net service to its high volume bandwidth users--and that category might include, say, a magazine portal or shopping site that one of their subsidiaries happens to own. What does that do a guy operating out of his basement that it trying to compete in that same space? Despite the spin, Net Neutrality is not a complicated issue. The bottom line is this: there is no public good that can come out overturning it in the name of an open marketplace. Get rid of net neutrality and you've just created an impediment to innovation and economic growth that would only be matched by something equally stupid such as giving the FCC the unlimited authority to regulate the internet. John Sweeney is an opponent of Net Neutrality. Finding AT&T, Bell South, Time Warner, Cablevision and the US Telecomm Association among his campaign contributors helps to explain why. The local business lobby will certainly support Mr Sweeney based on the support he has shown for certain high tech development initiatives in the area. But while John Sweeney may appear to be good for high tech in the Capital Region, he is not so good for high tech. His opponent, Kirsten Gillibrand, is on record as being on the proper side of this issue. That, combined with the fact that she is not John Sweeney, is enough for us. OUR VOTE: Kirsten Gillibrand
For this and other races go to Tech Valley Times.

GOP Worrying

MY DD has a leaked GOP list of races that they are worried about. From the looks of where they have the 20th district, I am certain that it is not a recent list. The latest polls had Sweeney narrowed down from the 19 point lead that the leaked to DD list cites.

It also shows the 20th as leaning R, but the race was re-classified as "No Clear Favorite" by the non-partisan CQ a while ago.

My guess is that someone leaked an older list to make the Rs look like they were in as good a shape as they thought they were in early October.

The current list would look far worse than this one.

And speaking of Republicans and upcoming elections and how they are worried....

In a watchout world warning: Let's do a heads up for polls and exit polls not matching election returns on the Nov. 7. Historically that is a sign of voters being disenfranchised and/or outright election stealing. What can you trust the culture of corruption with? Nothing.

DailyKos says there is an:

an admission by a Diebold consultant that machine software was altered in 5,000 machines in DeKalb and Fulton counties on the day of the election.

If anyone remembers the 2002 election in Georgia, that is the one where Max Cleland's five to six point lead was erased overnight to a seven point loss, leading to a miraculous win by Saxby Chambliss, which even describes his come from behind win as "stunning and historical" in his Senate website.

We know John Sweeney played a role in stopping the vote count in 2000. Let's have the winner be the person with the most votes not the person who stops the votes from being counted. Don't let this happen again. Poll watch your districts.

Local Weekly Says "Replace John Sweeney"

Granville Sentinel: "REPLACE JOHN SWEENEY"

Published October 25, 2006

It is rare for this newspaper to formally endorse a candidate for political office. The only less likely occurrence is for this paper to endorse a Democratic candidate facing a Republican incumbent.

But that is what we are doing today.

This newspaper believes that this coming election is one of the most critical in our generation and we believe voters must send a message to Washington and replace Congressman John Sweeney with his challenger, Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand.

There are any number of reasons why we made this choice, from Sweeney’s dumbfounded political junkets to western ski areas to the Caribbean vacation courtesy of convicted felon Jack Abramoff to his blindfolded support of Bush economic policies that favor this nation’s wealthiest individuals, while Washington County residents struggle to make ends meet, often without the benefit of raises and critical health insurance.

But the real issue that makes this decision so simple and sure is Sweeney’s total support for President Bush’s war against Iraq and the incompetent way Bush and the Republicans have waged this war.

We can disagree about the idea of invading Iraq and overthrowing Saddam Hussein, but what we must all agree on is what a disaster it has been since the day Hussein was toppled. From that moment forward nearly 3,000 American soldiers have lost their lives and more than 20,000 have been seriously injured – more than 9,000 so badly injured they could not return to action.

It would be one thing if there had been steady progress since March 2004, but every American can see nightly on television or in their newspapers, it has gotten progressively worse – without a clear end in sight. Only now with an election just days away has the Bush administration given lip-service to a supposed “change of course” in Iraq.

John Sweeney supported this war and has supported this President’s inept handling of it. We need a new direction and that can only start with a new Representative in Congress.

Ultimately, it comes down to the comment Ronald Regan made when he ran for President against Jimmy Carter. He asked Americans to simply decide if they are better off today than they were four years ago. American voters answered that question resoundingly and elected Ronald Regan.

We ask the same today.

If you believe our nation is better off today than you should vote for John Sweeney.

If, however, you believe we need a new direction and can - and must- do better, then you need to send a message to Washington and replace John Sweeney.

Mariana Islands, Abramoff and Appropriations

In a 2001 pitch letter obtained by The Washington Post, Abramoff boasted to the then-governor of the commonwealth that his lobbying team had worked with DeLay and other congressional leaders to bottle up reform legislation, stymied the efforts of Republican critics such as former Sen. Frank Murkowski of Alaska and obtained "extra CNMI appropriations" from Congress for infrastructure projects on the islands of Tinian and Rota.

John Sweeney is on the appropriations committee and Sweeney went to CNMI with Abramoff's right hand man. And he took $$$ from Abramoff's firm and from supporters of Abramoff's work there.

Are we the only ones the only one who can smell the coffee here? That quote is from a 6/7/06 article in the WP about the Dem bill to stop the sweatshops and human rights abuses in the CNMI. It goes on:

"For years, DeLay and Abramoff used their power and influence and corrupt practices to defend the indefensible," Miller said in a statement accompanying the introduction of his bill. "The House of Representatives failed to stop extraordinary abuses of poor women guest workers in the textile and tourism industries in the Marianas despite overwhelming evidence documented by the federal government, Congress, the news media and other sources."

He charged that DeLay, the former House majority leader, and Abramoff, a conservative Republican who became one of Washington's top lobbyists, "ignored well-documented threats to American security, criminal activity, violations of labor law, forced abortions and human trafficking" in the Northern Marianas.

"They were running a protection racket," Miller said. "DeLay and Abramoff protected the Marianas garment industry from congressional scrutiny and were rewarded handsomely for it with trips, lucrative contracts, campaign money and more. The most exploited women in the world, and the American legislative process, paid the price."

The real stomach turning comment, from one of the GOP spinners, a DeLay spokesperson, shows that these folks have been so brainwashed they will keep belting out those talking points even after their titanic has sunk:

A spokeswoman for DeLay, Shannon Flaherty, responded in a statement, "It's clearly good news to Democrats that Tom DeLay is leaving the House because they hate free-market values and everyone who defends them. Bad news is, socialists like George Miller still won't win."

MoDo has a twin in Texas, and she works for Tommie boy. I'll be darned.

Quotes from Washington Post Democrats Renew Push for Mariana Labor Bill.

Jack Abramoff = canary

Bad news for John Sweeney. Well, if you have to go to jail, you may as well take your friends with you. A must read up at DIA.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Helllooo? Who the hell asked you? quote of the day

Idiot 20th District Republican quote of the day from county Republican Chairman John 'Jasper' Nolan

We had Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) in and Mayor Rudolph Giuliani They can bring in Bill Clinton. (Saratogian 10/24)

Oh gee, can we? Yippeee! Thanks so much for your permission, that is just what we've been waiting for. Thank you, thank you Mr. Nolan. You are so nice.

My other favorite quote from Jasper Nolan is:

Lobbying is the fourth branch of government -- if you know what I mean. (link)

No wonder he supports John Sweeney for congress. The man is clearly very very confoooosed.

Kirsten Gillibrand may be the daughter of a lobbyist but that don't mean she thinks lobbyists are part of the Constiutional system of checks and balances -- if you know what I mean.

OK, so I know you'll want to check out the Clinton visit details here.

Creepy Sweeney Ad

That John Sweeney "Family" ad is creepy. Not just because it features a creep of course (being Sweeney) and the woman who loves him. There's something else. Poor Gayle, she's got an expression on her face that looks slightly pained, I think that is because we are supposed to feel sorry for her over all the fictional attacks she's had to endure. Instead we just feel sorry for her because she's married to Sweeney. As if just being with him every day weren't bad enough. She's had to watch him go from Congressman KickAss to Congressman Do-over to Congressman Chicken Shit.

Life is hard. And it's about to get even worse. Not only are her fundraising kickbacks from his campaign going to dry up. She's also going to be stuck with him every day when he looses his job on Nov. 7th and has to skulk around the house in Clifton Park instead of stomping around at The House in DC. Fortunately for the rest of us, we will be unstuck from him on Nov. 7th.

NY Mag has a funny commentary on the ad:

The fracas has prompted Sweeney, the Republican incumbent, to attempt a political performance piece that's not entirely within his skill set: the personal appeal. The Sweeneys seem like fine, sweater-wearing folk who perhaps have not been in the same room together since Home Improvement got canceled.

When the cue card reads "TURN TO HER WITH LOVING GAZE," Sweeney lands on something much closer to "uh, have we met?" Come to think of it, is that even the real Mrs. Sweeney or a "Mrs. Sweeney" the ad agency brought along for the shoot? Has Mrs. Sweeney been so traumatized by the Gillibrand campaign's intimidations and smears that she's gone into seclusion?

Hey, liberal media, you are obviously an agent of the Gillibrand campaign for that malicious attack on Sweeney's wife. Have you no decency?


If you live here you've seen the ad already far too many times. Everyone else who wants to see it, can skip over the the tublog.

Sweeney and the Abramoff Investigation

DWT is talking about Abramoff and his cooperation in an effort to "get the best deal for himself":

there are a whole lot of GOP solons from low information districts who will be re-elected only to face almost immediate indictment and the same eventual fate as former GOP congressmen/current prison inmates Duke Cunningham and Bob Ney.

Fortunately for us ours is not a low information district and Sweeney is not going to be re-elected. John Sweeney is on the list of those who are going to be in trouble:

Apparently Abramoff has said enough about 3 U.S. Senators-- Jim Talent (MO), Conrad Burns (MT) and John Ensign (NV)-- plus almost 20 other House members, for files to have been opened on all of them. And some of those files are getting pretty fat. Conrad Burns is a sure bet for a long prison sentence and it is unlikely that there will not be indictments of Denny Hastert (IL), John Sweeney (NY), Cathy McMorris WA), Virgil Goode (VA), J.D. Hayworth (AZ), Marilyn Musgrave (CO), Ann Northup (KY), Robin Hayes (NC), Charlie Taylor (NC), Heather Wilson (NM), and Gil Gutknecht (MN).

Cases are in the early stages against Mike Ferguson (NJ), Tom Tancredo (CO), Barbara Cubin (WY), Tom Davis (VA), Ron Simmons (CT), Mike Rogers (MI), and Jim Gerlach (PA).

Saratogian Article on 20th District

Will John Sweeney please stand up? by JIM KINNEY 10/24/2006 - The Saratogian

SARATOGA SPRINGS -- The percentage growth of Democrats far outpaces Republican growth in the congressional district that includes Saratoga County -- but Republicans still outnumber Democrats by almost two to one. . . .

Since the year 2000, the number of Republicans in the 20th district has increased by 8 percent, while the number of Democrats has increased by 20 percent. However, the district is 43 percent Republican, 25 percent Democrat, and 23 percent 'blanks' or unaffiliated voters, according to data on file at the state Board of Elections.

The breakdown was 46 percent GOP, 23 percent Democrats and 25 percent blank in 2000, the year Sweeney coasted to re-election over an under-funded and unorganized Democrat Ken McCallion, 153,600 to 70,000 votes.

This year, Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand is considered by political observers to be the strongest opposition Sweeney has faced.

Sweeney's district got bigger after re-apportionment following the 2000 Census. It stretches from near Cooperstown to just north of Poughkeepsie through Saratoga County to Lake Placid.

Bob Turner, an assistant professor in Skidmore College's Government Department, said enrollment is only one measure of a district's political leanings. Another is who voters pick in presidential years. In 2004, Democrat John Kerry received 53 percent of the vote in Saratoga Springs and 45 percent of the vote districtwide.

'It's a measure of people's political leanings now, not back when they registered,' Turner said.

This creates a perception that Sweeney is vulnerable and, Turner said, 'that attracts a better opposition candidate and more money. It's really a self-fulfilling prophesy.'

Allison Price, Gillibrand's campaign spokeswoman, said voters are looking beyond party, even as Gillibrand plays up Sweeney's connections to Bush.

'I think people are voting for the candidates they like,' she said.

Shawn Thompson of Saratoga Springs is vice chairman of the county Democratic Party. He pointed to the city Democrats' success in sweeping Saratoga Springs elections last fall, even though the GOP still holds an enrollment edge.

'I think you've got to reach out to all sorts of people,' he said.

County GOP chairman John 'Jasper' Nolan said downstaters are moving into the southern portions of Sweeney's district -- places like Columbia County where Gillibrand lives -- because it's an easy commute via train to New York City. Democrats have been gaining in Saratoga County, too.

Nolan said the party tires to reach out to new residents.

'But it's harder than it used to be,' he said. 'People come with their own affiliations.'

Thompson pointed to a strong slate of Democrats at the top of the ticket, including Eliot Spitzer for governor and U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton running for re-election. . . .

Last week, a Siena Research Institute poll put Sweeney ahead by 14 points. But Turner said Monday it's probably closer than that. He pointed to the money both sides are putting in.

'If it wasn't close, they would have used their resources elsewhere,' he said. 'This is going to be a close one. This might be one of those squeakers that goes long into the night.'

Control of the U.S. House of Representatives is at stake.

'That's the big enchilada,' Turner said.

No Debate

It's official, he's a chicken-shit.

WTEN reports "John Sweeney Refuses to Debate Kirsten Gillibrand"

Clifton Park Congressman John Sweeney is refusing to participate in a debate with his challenger, Kirsten Gillibrand.

The Republican incumbent says he will not take part unless the Democrat releases copies of her personal tax records.

Both candidates initially agreed to participate in a debate this Thursday, but Monday, Sweeney called to cancel.

Candidates are not required by law to release their tax returns; however, Sweeney has voluntarily chosen to do so. Gillibrand says she has nothing to hide and calls the tax return issue an excuse for Sweeney not to debate her.

A spokesperson from her campaign says debates are for the benefit of constituents and Kirsten Gillibrand is sorry that John Sweeney does not share that same view.

The two candidates are campaigning for the Congressional seat in the 20th district.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Sweeney Scandal News

Article published Oct 23, 2006 Another day, another scandal in Congress

U.S. Rep. John Sweeney, faced with a published report that he did not properly report a 2001 expense-paid trip to the Northern Marianas, says he will ask the House Ethics Committee for guidance. That’s about like looking for a moral compass from the Cali Drug Cartel. Ethics has become a sick joke in the U.S. House. Sweeney, a New York Republican seeking re-election, insists he did no wrong. He said he believed the government of the Marianas, a U.S. territory, paid for his trip. And legislators aren’t required to report government-paid travel. But according to published reports, the Saipan Chamber of Commerce financed the junket. It came just as convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff was lobbying on behalf of the Northern Marianas government in opposition to a set of proposed labor reforms. Tony Rudy, who had just left the staff of former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay to work for Abramoff, accompanied Sweeney. Rudy is now cooperating in a federal investigation into congressional corruption involving Abramoff. Marianas is infamous for its sweatshops and brothels. But Sweeney returned singing the praises of the territory. His home state had worse sweatshops, he said. Why would a New York lawmaker be of interest to the business community in the Marianas? At the time of his trip, Sweeney had just been named to the powerful House Appropriations Committee, which could potentially direct federal funds sought by the commonwealth. Sweeney’s apparent collusion with lobbyists on the 8,000-mile junket isn’t the worst of the ethics controversies in the House. It’s just one of the most blatant in a body that refuses to reform. (Tuscaloosa News Editorial)

More Bad News for Sweeney

Lobby inquiry into Sweeney donor, Bill Powers:

The state Lobbying Commission has opened an inquiry into whether former state GOP Chairman-turned-lobbyist Bill Powers failed to register for lobbying work he did for Siena College in 2003, a source with knowledge of the action said.

In an Aug. 28 story on local colleges hiring lobbyists, The Business Review reported that Powers helped "shepherd" a bill through the Legislature in 2003 that gave Siena the right of first refusal on state-owned land near its Loudonville campus and has been tracking the deal's progress ever since.

Siena has agreed to pay $1.3 million for the Route 9 property, but, under a lease agreement, will allow its current resident -- State Police Troop G -- to remain there for several years until a new headquarters is built.

Powers did not register to lobby for Siena until last summer, according to Lobbying Commission records. Siena College President Father Kevin Mackin said last week his records showed Powers' contract began July 2005. He could not recall whether Powers did any work for Siena in 2003.

Powers did not return a call for comment. Lobbying Commission Executive Director David Grandeau said he could not comment on "ongoing investigations."

In 2003, Powers was working with Powers, Crane & Co. The firm was not registered to lobby on the right-of-first-refusal legislation, commission records show.

Powers, Crane & Co. split in 2004 into two firms -- Powers & Co. and Crane & Vacco. (Times Union)

The same story reports that the internal poll Sweeney has wasn't as rosey as he claimed it was and has him leading by only single digits. Keep in mind these polls were all before the Sweeney/Abramoff/CNMI story came out and that Gillibrand's internal poll shows her leading even before then but read on:

...an internal Sweeney poll showed the incumbent leading by single digits, according to two people briefed on the results. ... The other person briefed said the lead could be as slim as 7 points and that the GOP is worried about losing five House seats, including Sweeney's.

PS. Today's Note Reports:

However, "a strategist close to the White House said Mr. Bush's own political team had polling that showed as many as 14 House seats were probably already lost to Democrats, just one shy of the 15 seats they need to gain to win control," write Rutenberg and Stolberg.


Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) meets with GE Global Research leaders to discuss renewable energy technologies at 9:45 am ET in Niskayuna, NY and campaigns for Kristen Gillibrand, the Democrat running against Rep. John Sweeney (R-NY) in New York's 20th congressional district, in Averill Park, NY at 3:45 pm ET.

Kirsten Gillibrand News

Read Firedoglake's post about Kirsten Gillibrand, the race, the district, Sweeney's accidential rise to power in spite of all the ineptitude.

It is a good read. We're not just saying that because they were nice enough to mention 20TB.

And give to Gillibrand's campaign at ActBlue here.

Kirsten answers questions in the comments section, more good reading there. To direct people who are ready to get more involved with the campaign, she says:

For suggestions on how to help: if you are here in the district, please help me go door to door. Also, we have phone banks every night. If you don't live here but want to help, we have remote phonebanking every night as well. You can help by talking about the issues that you care most about and writing letters to our editors in our several local papers -- your opinions matter! If you can work Election Day, we need poll watchers and help with get out the vote. If you want to do ANYTHING, just email me at campaign@gillibrand2006.com. Thanks for asking -- together we will take back our Country and put this great Nation on the right track. link

TU Editorial

Times Union Editorial: "If members of Congress want to travel abroad, the government should pay the tab"

First published: Sunday, October 22, 2006

While Rep. John Sweeney, R-Clifton Park, seeks guidance from the House Ethics Committee on reporting his 2001 trip to the Northern Mariana Islands, many of his constituents are no doubt wondering what their congressman was doing 8,000 miles away in the Pacific in the first place. It's a question that should not be reserved for Mr. Sweeney alone, however. Many other senators and representatives go on jaunts far and wide, and with no apparent connection to serving the interests of the voters back home.

These ventures are commonly known as fact-finding trips. Lawmakers are invited by varied special interests to visit a locale to learn more about a company or country or other entity in hopes of winning their support for legislation, either in a committee or on the floor.

In Mr. Sweeney's case, he was there to deliver a speech to the Saipan Chamber of Commerce. The trip is now the center of controversy because it is unclear whether the chamber or the Marianas government paid for it. If it was the latter, as the congressman contends, then he was not required under federal guidelines to report it. But if the chamber footed the bill, as it claims it did, that would be considered private funding, which Mr. Sweeney is obligated to report. To add to the controversy, Mr. Sweeney was accompanied on the trip by a lobbyist hired by convicted Washington influence peddler Jack Abramoff.

Until the dust settles, it would be unfair to accuse Mr. Sweeney of impropriety. But it is totally fair -- indeed, overdue -- to say that this controversy would never have happened if there were strict rules governing trips by lawmakers. As we have said before, the U.S. taxpayers should pick up the tab if a trip is connected to government business. Lobbyists, the governments of other countries, business leaders or any other special interest should be forbidden to underwrite the costs to avoid even the appearance of trying to buy influence.

It's true that the definition of government business is a very open one in Washington. Many lawmakers may accept a paid-for trip and spend only a brief time on the business at hand, while enjoying what has all the appearances of an expense-paid vacation.

Obviously, if the taxpayers were picking up the tab, it would be difficult, if not impossible, for members of Congress to justify such expenditures in the future. Which is why such a rule is needed, and needed now.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Have you had enough?

Check out the video up at YouTube.

Sweeney = Twisted

What Sweeney's ad says about the Democratic Challanger Kirsten Gillibrand:

“Gillibrand would support rolling back…tax cuts.”

The TUblog reports, Sweeney could care less if he's taken what Gillibrand said and twisted it into something she didn't say:

Thanks to the TU’s handy on-line morgue (where old stories go to their eternal rest), we can tell you what the ad left out - the rest of that sentence, which was:

“For anyone who earns over $1 million.”

Only 1.7% of the district makes over $200,000 per year so I don't think folks here will be too worried about what taxes are raised for millionaires. Bush and Sweeney are both good at ignoring whatever facts get in the way of the non-sense that they want to sell to the voters. And we all know - that is not a good quality in a candidate.

See NY20th race at Majority Watch for stats on the district.

Sunday Op-Ed

Here's another example of the smug entitled attitude that John Sweeney has regarding his position of power.

We all know, when it was clear there would be no Democratic primary, Sweeney's next excuse for not debating Gillibrand was that he had to wait until after Labor Day. That was all back when he was still thinking there was no way this gerrymandered district could ever send anyone other than John Sweeney to congress.

Now, two polls show Gillibrand and Sweeney winning by the same amount and Gillibrand's internal polls show her slightly ahead. Sweeney's internal polls probably show the same thing (he hasn't released his, but Gillibrand has released hers).

The race has been downgraded from leans Republican to "no clear favorite" by Congressional Quarterly.

Sweeney needed a new excuse to prevent Gillibrand from beating him in a debate because with Sweeney's missteps (lobbyist ski trips, frat party escapade, undisclosed trip with Abramoff's guilty right hand lobbyist, etc.) mean he can't afford to have Gillibrand look smarter and more prepared than he is (which she is). That would be the final nail in his congressional coffin.

Sweeney has a new excuse for not debating Gillibrand: he lamely pretends that a debate on Social Security couldn't be fair without seeing her tax returns. Even though Sweeney has not always released his returns and even though Gillibrand has filed all of the paperwork she has to in order to run for congress.

Read the article below where Sweeney revealed another excuse for avoiding a debate, he thinks that he is the person who decides if Gillibrand "deserves" the "stature" he will give her by debating him. Yippeeee - Sweeney: The Decider.

The voters know she deserves that stature since she has been gaining on the incumbent in the polls all along. Plus she's raised more money from within the district than Sweeney has repeatedly.

For the record Democrats, Eliot Spitzer and Hillary Clinton both held debates with Republican opponents who had far lower standings in the polls than Gillibrand. And Clinton's opponent has run horrific attack ads that makes even staunch Republicans I know cringe at his distaste.

While Ken Tingley's October 15th editorial in the Post Star suggests that both candidates haven't agreed to debate. He gets the press releases, he knows that Gillibrand has been calling for debates with Sweeney since the beginning. Gillibrand has no strings attached to a debate with Sweeney.

Yes, Mr. Tingley, Gillibrand did call on Sweeney to release his police records. You may or may not have agreed with her actions, but she did not make releasing those records condition of any debate. She will show up to debate Sweeney even though Sweeney is too scared to be there.

The recent comments from Sweeney suggests he really does think that Kirsten Gillibrand is a "pretty faced" poodle who has to jump through whatever hoop he holds up.

Is this a guy who deserves to be called "Congressman Kick Ass" in your book? More like Congressman Chicken Shit if you ask me. Here's what Sweeney told the Post Star on Oct 13th:

"The reality in a debate -- especially when you are the incumbent -- is that you are giving your opponent more stature than maybe they deserve," the Clifton Park Republican said. "Her conduct over the last 48 hours tells me she doesn't deserve the stature."

Sweeney releasing his police records is about honesty and integrity, Gillibrand said. Gillibrand has followed federal laws and filed the financial disclosure forms required, she added.

Gillibrand notes that Sweeney has been accused of pocketing campaign contributions, accepting gifts from special-interest groups with legislation before Congress and being recently named one of Congress's 20 most corrupt members.

Gillibrand has urged Sweeney to debate her on several occasions, but he has instead created four excuses, she said.

"Each time you have offered another in a series of lame excuses to avoid a candid exchange of ideas with me," Gillibrand said. "It is obvious you are afraid to debate."

Gillibrand said that because of Sweeney's actions, there will likely be no debate between the two.

"I would love to debate her," Sweeney said. "I'm actually of the opinion now that she doesn't want to debate, so she is going to hide behind the fact that she's not releasing her taxes."

Gillibrand said she will not be bullied into a debate. A debate should be free of stipulations, she said.

"It's a shame and the losers in this will be the voters," Gillibrand said. "People deserve to hear from their congressman. At the end of the day, he owes his constituents a debate."

Sweeney has the audacity to lie to us blatantly yet again when he says, "I would love to debate her."

He seems to have actually convinced the editor of the Post Star that Gillibrand won't agree to debate him. When no, it truth just the opposite is true. Sweeney's spent too much time in Washington, he needs a vacation, one that doesn't include lobbyists for a change. Listening to him makes my head spin.

Sweeney: if you'd love to debate her - just do it. Knock yourself out man. Go for it, Mr. Kickass. Whatever you do, stop peeing on our legs and telling us it is raining. Because that is just pathetic. And disgusting.

Gillibrand and Sweeney on Iraq

Post Star by Maury Thompson published 10/22/06:

Editor's note: This is the final in a six-part series examining how candidates for the 20th Congressional District seat, incumbent John Sweeney, R-Clifton Park, and Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand, feel about today's issues. [Post Star also covered the candidate stances on Local Economy,Energy Policy,Social Security,and Affordable Housing.]

The Iraq war has been one of the major issues in the race for Congress in New York's 20th District.

The Post-Star invited the candidates to submit an essay detailing their Iraq policies.

Republican John Sweeney and Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand agree the U.S. military should not continue its current level of involvement indefinitely.

And both candidates agree oil revenues could be used to stabilize the situation in Iraq.

Yet the candidates also have marked differences in their views.

Gillibrand proposes setting a notice period of less than a year for the United States to begin withdrawing forces from Iraq.

Sweeney said setting an "artificial deadline" for withdrawing troops before the Iraq government is ready could leave Iraq open to infiltration by terrorists.

Sweeney proposed allowing the three main Iraqi sects to establish independent federated states, supported by a shared oil revenue structure.

Gillibrand said partitioning off the country would weaken the government.

Gillibrand said the United States should pledge not to have permanent military bases in Iraq.

Sweeney said in an interview Saturday the House has already voted not to have permanent bases in Iraq.

Sweeney said the U.S. government has made mistakes in its Iraq strategy. He did not specify those mistakes.

Kirsten Gillibrand on the war in iraq

We can no longer afford a stay-the-course strategy or partisan politics; our troops deserve real leadership and a strategy for success in Iraq. Americans deserve to have Congress clarify its mission in Iraq by passing a resolution that states America will not establish permanent bases or have claim to Iraqi oil.

We must create a sense of urgency for Iraqi leaders by setting a notice period of less than a year, to be defined by our military leaders, for establishing a stable government in which the Shia, Kurds and Sunnis have an equal share in the government, reconstruction contracts and oil profits. By effectively using our leverage in the region, we will encourage the Iraqis to choose peace over civil war. Dividing Iraq into three regions will weaken the region, and give Iran more leverage as it continues to build its nuclear program and use its resources to undermine peace.

After the notice period, we must redeploy U.S. troops to anti-terror missions, and fully implement the 9/11 Commission recommendtions, including investments in port, airline and border security.

Finally, we must honor those who have served by providing health care, education and job training benefits to our veteran and military families.

John Sweeney on the war in iraq

Like every American, I want to see our troops come home as soon as possible. However, it is irresponsible and damaging to our troops to call for an immediate withdrawal -- neither is staying the current course acceptable.

An artificial deadline only provides terrorists with wait-us-out strategy and when the last U.S. soldier leaves, the current insurgency will erupt into a full-scale civil war, disrupting the security in a volatile part of the world.

The next three to five months will be critical to our overall strategy in Iraq.

We must put additional pressure on Prime Minister Maliki and Iraqi Security Forces to defend their own nation.

However, they cannot stand alone yet.

In my four trips to Iraq, I have seen our mistakes and know we must change strategy to see victory.

I am advocating a structure that allows the various Iraqi sects to establish independent federated states under one oil revenue-sharing structure -- that can provide for their individual safety and security against Iran and Syria.

I do not support a politically motivated call for a timetable withdrawal.

Those who propose immediate withdrawal cannot answer the question of what happens to Iraq and global security after we leave.

Related: Sweeney voted to support Bush and stay the course recently in congress. Sweeney's letter to constituents this summer told us "While all of this was important to the formation of a permanent government, difficult days and hard work still lie ahead in Iraq for both our military and this fledging [sic] democracy. As difficult as it is to question the mission, we must continue to unite in our support for both instead of cowering at the sight of controversy. It is more important than ever that America stands firm in support of the Iraqi citizens." Read the entire letter here.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

NYT on the 20th

From the NY Times on Oct. 20th:

New York’s 20 District: Already facing an increasingly tough race against Democratic first-time candidate Kirsten Gillibrand, Republican Rep. John E. Sweeney has had to deal with allegations that he may have failed to properly report a trip to the U.S. territory of Northern Mariana Islands that was funded by a colleague of now-convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff. [Note: The "colleague" was Abramoff's right-hand man and has pleaded guilty for corrupt lobbying too.]

There are no allegations that Sweeney broke laws. But the story plays into the hands of Democrats who are trying to make a national campaign issue of what they allege is a Republican “culture of corruption” — and particularly for Gillibrand, who has made ethics a centerpiece of her campaign since she entered the race.

The development could be a particularly volatile issue, as Abramoff’s representation of the Northern Marianas in efforts to waive parts of federal labor law is one of the most controversial aspects of Abramoff’s career as a congressional influence peddler.

The Northern Mariana Islands have been the focus of investigations of alleged human rights abuses surrounding its textile and clothing industries, and the suggestion that Sweeney accepted a junket funded by Abramoff’s company could be damaging to Sweeney’s hopes of holding off a Gillibrand campaign that has been surging.

Democrats were quick to jump on the allegations — among them California Rep. George Miller, who has spent more than a decade working against alleged sweatshops, forcible prostitution and human rights abuses on the islands.

Miller told reporters that the trip in which Sweeney had participated was part of Abramoff’s plan to develop “a cheering section” for Mariana Islands government and its garment industry, and to tamp down calls for reform in Congress.

Democrats argued that Sweeney failed to follow congressional ethics rules when he did not declare the lobbyist-funded trip. But the congressman said he originally believed the trip was paid for by the Mariana Islands government and thus did not need to be disclosed.

Sweeney campaign spokeswoman Maureen Donovan said she found the timing of the news reports about the matter “curious.”

“That’s a trip that happened five years ago and the congressman has been very clear . . . he always makes a good faith effort to report what he’s supposed to,” she said.

Underscoring the risk in relying even on independent polls to determine the outcomes of competitive House races, two recent surveys on the 20th District race reported vastly different results.

Majority Watch, a bipartisan polling project that uses automated phone calls to survey voters, released a poll this week that indicated Gillibrand held a 13 percentage-point lead over Sweeney, 54 percent to 41 percent, in the 20th.

The Gillibrand campaign trumpeted the poll, which also found stronger support for Gillibrand among voters in the southern half of the sprawling district, located mainly in the upper Hudson River Valley. The challenger held a 15-point lead among those voters, and a 12-point lead among voters in the upper half of the district, which includes Saratoga.

But a poll released Thursday by the Siena Research Institute showed Sweeney with a big 14 percentage-point lead over Gillibrand, 53 percent to 39 percent, though that was down from a 19-point lead in August.

The survey indicated that Gillibrand has been successful in raising questions about Sweeney — 35 percent of respondents had a negative impression of the congressman, up from 29 percent in August. . . .