Saturday, November 04, 2006

Sweeney endorsement withdrawn

The Post Star just withdrew its endorsement of John Sweeney. Bravo.

EDITORIAL: Character questions continue to dog Sweeney Our view: Post-Star withdraws endorsement in wake of latest controversy regarding domestic violence call

Friday, November 3, 2006 8:24 PM EST

There's a time when you have to say, enough.

Here is one such time.

Serious allegations of domestic violence were raised against Congressman John Sweeney earlier this week after three newspapers published police accounts of a 911 call to his home in December.

The congressman has said he wants the truth to come out. But his actions in the wake of the incident and the disclosure of the 911 call in the media indicate otherwise.

The congressman's staff first responded to the police report on Wednesday by claiming the document was "fabricated" and "concocted" by an unnamed operative in the campaign of his opponent, Kirsten Gillibrand.

On Thursday, the congressman changed his story, admitting that there had been some kind of incident at his home that night, but that it wasn't as the police report in the media said it was.

At a press conference with his wife dutifully at his side, the couple said they would give permission to police to release documents that would reveal the truth about what happened. But police informed the congressman that in order to release the documents, he and his wife would have to provide a notarized authorization.

So to help him along, the Times-Union editorial board, the New York Daily News and the Associated Press on Thursday each offered to provide notarized requests for him to prompt police to release the records. In each case, the congressman angrily refused. Why would someone who says he so interested in the truth refuse help in releasing documents that would bring out the truth?

On Friday, as the citizens waited a third day for Sweeney to finally disclose the truth, again there was nothing from the congressman to support his claims as to what really happened. Instead, the congressman had himself seen with Governor Pataki and 9/11 hero Rudy Giuliani, telling reporters who questioned him about the waiver as he walked away, "Talk to my lawyer."

Perhaps by appearing with these two political giants, Sweeney was hoping their aura would overshadow a newspaper report published Friday in which he was quoted in the Times-Union as saying he thought the whole domestic violence matter was a "non-issue."

"It is a non-issue, and only you people made it an issue because it's salacious," the congressman told Times-Union editors.

We don't think it's a non-issue. And we're sure many of our readers don't either.

In May of last year, 25 courageous victims of domestic violence came forward and told their compelling stories of abuse as part of a series in this newspaper on domestic violence. They told of violence and fear, and of the shame and humiliation they felt when they failed to remove themselves from their abusive situations.

The congressman's curt dismissal of the domestic violence incident as a "non-issue" demonstrates that he either doesn't understand the seriousness of this matter as it relates to his role as a member of Congress, or that he simply hopes to divert attention from it so he can win the election.

In our editorial endorsing the congressman for re-election last Sunday, we pointed out the many flaws in Congressman Sweeney's character, including his accompanying lobbyists to exotic locations, fabricating lies about his political opponents, and using poor judgement in attending frat parties. We said voters should take those factors into consideration, but that the congressman's record in helping secure funding for his district and voting in Republican interests overrode concerns about his unofficial conduct.

His response to this incident reflects disturbingly not only on his character, but on his credibility to serve effectively as a representative of all the people.

There are still three days left until Election Day, and we urge the congressman to release the police documentation he says will unveil the truth about what really happened at his house that night.

Given this situation and Congressman Sweeney's unacceptable response to it, we can no longer stand behind our earlier endorsement of his candidacy.


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