It's been a bad week for Rep. John E. Sweeney (R, NY-20). It was a bad month for John Sweeney. For that matter it has been a bad year for the incumbent (as it has been for most Republican incumbents) and it really began going downhill for him in Sep. of last year.
And there are no signs it is going to get any better for him in the coming month or the remaining 220 days.
Kirsten Gillibrand, Sweeney's challenger in this years election, nailed him earlier on the hypocrisy of his Utah skiing trip with lobbyists on the heels of his having attempted to paint himself as the bold reformer. Thus ended that storyline for Bush's representative to the 20th CD.
In the last week there have been revelations about Sweeney rewarding his favorite lobbyist and staffer friends with a skiing trip in Lake Placid on the New York tax payers dime.
Gov. George Pataki (R-NY) has ordered an investigation into the New York Power Authority's funding of the junket.
Sweeney's on-going health problems seem to have abated a little and he has returned to work. He says his doctor has said he can walk and ride a bike but that skiing is out for now.
All of this has fueled on-going reports that the weakened Sweeney may face a challenger within his own party, former State Republican Chairman Sandy Treadwell.
With the complete disarray in the state party comes even more circling buzzards and Republican dirty laundry being aired by conservative blogger Bob Fois at News Copy, New York. Normally an admirer of Sweeney, Fois expresses distaste at what we have come to know as the typical behavior of Sweeney and his surrogates in their betrayal of another Fois favorite Assemblyman Patrick Manning. Perhaps Fois will begin to see the sort of man Sweeney really is.
All of this was preceded by the revelation that Sweeney's wife has a similar arrangement to that of Rep. John Doolittle's wife, skimming 10% off of his campaign contributions into the personal family bank account.
And then we can add the more typical corrupt practices of Sweeney being in bed with the food lobby mainly through his former Chief of Staff Brad Card, brother of former Bush Chief of Staff, Andrew Card. Card, now a lobbyist with the food industry, is a regular contributor to Sweeney's campaign along with Altria, the parent company of Kraft foods. Sweeney is a co-sponsor of the bill to destroy food safety labeling laws in New York and elsewhere.
In the meantime, Kirsten Gillibrand, who has already out raised Sweeney over the last two quarters, is reported to have had her best fund raising quarter yet.
Sweeney, who appears to have a spending problem, went through more money then he raised last quarter racking up impressive bills for $1000 cigars, liquor bills that would impress WC Fields (remind me to tell you someday about an older skiing trip of Sweeney's where he crashed his car into a power pole and knocked out the power to an entire town), and what appear to be the purchase of 2 vehicles.
Having spent most of this quarter in the hospital is likely to have depressed his own fund raising. Amazingly, though to ill to do his job most of the quarter, he did manage to recover briefly enough to attend a couple fund raisers so he will have something to show for the quarter. In particular his spokeswoman promised his FEC reports would show just who attended the Utah Skiing trip at least part of which was hosted by pharmaceutical lobbyists.
Meanwhile, the capable, personable, and intelligent Kirsten Gillibrand has seemingly been everywhere. While concentrating on her own fund raising she has found time to attend house parties and events all over the 10 county district. Glowing reports for attendees, reporters, and skeptics have followed wherever she went. One couple I know that walked in to one house party unsure of their support walked up to me afterwards positively glowing and saying "Well! I'm sold!" All this while a basketful of checks showed that they weren't the only one's. Comments from sources close to the campaign tell me that this quarter has been outstanding, exceeding even their own lofty expectations.
Gillibrand has been in the news with her Comprehensive Ethics Proposal marking a stark contrast between her and the incumbent.
Meanwhile, Sweeney's surrogates have attempted to lash out at her by attacking her family members. Her father, her recently deceased grandmother, her husband, all have been subject to the slime typical of the Rove, D'Amato, Sweeney wing of the once respectable Republican party.
While Kirsten engages the people of the district and talks about issues that matter the incumbent through his surrogates slimes and smears while he betrays the hard working people of the district voting against our interests time and again.
This campaign is far from over and is not an easy one. The Republicans like to remind us that Sweeney is a street fighter, not that we are likely to forget. Sweeney's right hand man in Florida by the way, was one Thomas Spargo. Spargo was relieved of his seat on the New York Supreme Court just this past week for shaking down attorney's appearing before his court (amongst other things).
But I digress... this campaign is far from over and we'll need your help. This is exactly the sort of seat we need to win in order to take control of the US House of Representatives. There are several we should win. Those will get us close. Then there are those that we shouldn't win but can. Those will get us control of the House. This is one of those races.
By the way, did I mention that she has stated she would immediately call for or support an investigation into the Bush administrations lies and deceptions that got us into the Iraq War? Or that she would also call for or support an immediate and full investigation into the Bush administrations warrantless domestic wiretapping activities?