Following up on Sweeney's Bad Bill
Sweeney boating bill may sink Tax break plan likely to fail with loss of seat
November 12, 2006
U.S. Rep. John Sweeney's loss Tuesday to Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand will almost certainly doom a bill that became a political liability for him.
In May, the Republican from Clifton Park introduced a measure that would give tax breaks to boat manufacturers that provide high-end, easy-to-wear life vests and emergency radio beacons to consumers for free. The bill was crafted with help from the National Marine Manufacturers Association.
Received cash from PAC
In August, the Poughkeepsie Journal reported the association's political action committee had donated $4,500 to Sweeney's campaign. It ultimately gave $8,000 in cash and in-kind services. Those services included use of a yacht to hold fundraisers.
Sweeney's use of the yacht was later reported in the Chicago Tribune, became fodder for political blogs and was referenced in a television commercial by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
In a meeting last month with the Journal's editorial board, Sweeney said his use of the yacht was "above board."
The boat bill was referred to the House Ways and Means committee, where it remains. There is no co-sponsor and a matching bill has not been introduced in the Senate.
A spokeswoman for Sweeney's office said there had not been enough time to find a Senate sponsor. In an e-mail, Melissa Carlson said Sweeney is using his remaining time to focus on several appropriations bills. The boat bill's future "will all depend on if someone else picks it up next Congress," Carlson said.
Monita Fontaine, vice president of government relations for the marine manufacturers association, said in a statement: "We look forward to working with the new Congress on issues important to promoting a strong U.S. manufacturing base, expanding trade opportunities, promoting job growth and safety initiatives for the boating public." (link)