Friday, October 06, 2006

Congressman Scaredy Cat

John Sweeney promised he'd debate Kirsten GIllibrand after the Democratic Primary, when there was no primary, he said he'd debate after labor day. Now that Labor Day has come and gone, he has a new hurdle to overcome before he's willing to stand before the voters and debate his challanger. Sweeney is a man who can't keep his word. He's acting like a coward instead of like a professional incumbent who is willing to do the right thing for the voters of his district. The Post Star offered to host a debate on October 26th in Glens Falls, Gillibrand said she'd attend, but Sweeney won't participate.

Shame on you once again Mr. Sweeney.

From Today's Post Star, by Maury Thompson

Sweeney offers debate demand Kirsten Gillibrand asked to release tax forms before he'll participate

U.S. Rep. John Sweeney is insisting his Democratic opponent release the past three years of her personal income tax returns as a condition for his participation in debates, the congressman's spokeswoman said Thursday. Sweeney, R-Clifton Park, wrote Thursday in a letter to Democratic candidate Kirsten Gillibrand, "I ask you, Kirsten Gillibrand, to release your taxes and reassure the voters that you have nothing to hide. Then we can immediately move forward and discuss the issues affecting the residents of the 20th Congressional District." Sweeney's campaign released a copy of the letter to The Post-Star. Asked by The Post-Star specifically if public disclosure of tax returns is a condition for debating, Sweeney spokeswoman Melissa Carlson said it is. "If she releases her taxes, he'll debate her," Carlson said. Gillibrand, in a telephone interview Thursday evening, said she will not release her tax returns. "This is another excuse for him in a long list" of reasons not to debate, she said. Gillibrand has been calling for debates since June. Initially, Sweeney's campaign said he would not debate until after a Democratic primary. Later, after Gillibrand's potential Democratic opponents dropped out the race, Sweeney's campaign said in a prepared statement Sweeney was willing to debate "after Labor Day" on "all issues of national importance." Gillibrand, on Thursday, reiterated she has disclosed all information candidates are required to release. "Voters know what kind of money I make and what kind of investments I have," she said. Sweeney, in his letter to Gillibrand, acknowledged candidates are not required to release tax returns, but said many do so voluntarily, as he did earlier this year. Releasing tax returns "assures the public we have no conflict of interest," he wrote. Gillibrand said if Sweeney is interested in public disclosure, he should disclose meetings he has with lobbyists and topics discussed, as she has done. Sweeney would not comment directly Thursday afternoon because he was feeling ill, Carlson said. He also would not take questions from reporters Wednesday evening at a campaign fundraising reception in Saratoga Springs with first lady Laura Bush. Sweeney had to leave immediately after the event to attend a private meeting, Carlson said. The Sweeney campaign initially called for Gillibrand to release her federal and state tax returns early last month, and the campaign has been airing television commercials criticizing her for not doing so. Carlson said Gillibrand's tax returns would show if the family paid New York City resident income taxes, and if the family reported expenses for child care. Carlson said she was not making accusations of impropriety. By releasing her tax returns, Gillibrand would clear up any questions, Carlson said. Gillibrand said she has nothing to hide, but will not release her tax returns. "I complied with the letter of the law," she said. Gillibrand previously released a statement from the family's former landlord, documenting she and her husband no longer live in New York City, said Allison Price, a spokeswoman for the Democratic candidate. Gillibrand has several day-care providers and baby sitters, all of whom are compensated appropriately, Price said. "If their question is now about the baby sitter, that's ridiculous," she said. Post-Star Managing Editor Ken Tingley said the newspaper has formally invited both candidates to participate in a one-on-one debate to be held Oct. 26 at Heritage Hall in Glens Falls Civic Center. Gillibrand has already agreed to participate in the forum, but Sweeney hasn't yet said whether he will attend. "We've been hosting political debates for the last several years to allow voters to hear directly from the people seeking their support," Tingley said. "We think it's been a valuable service for both voters and candidates, and we hope the congressman reconsiders." (link)

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