Wednesday, November 1, 2006

20th CD – The End of Congressman John Sweeney?

According to a New York State Police document unofficially obtained by the Times Union [pdf] Corporate Republican Congressman John Sweeney‘s wife told police last year that he was “knocking her around the house.” According to the TU:

Sweeney’s wife, Gaia, [twenty years his junior] placed the emergency call to a police dispatcher in Saratoga County at 12:55 a.m. on Dec. 2, according to the document.

“Female caller stating her husband is knocking her around the house,” a dispatcher wrote. “Then she stated ‘Here it comes, are you ready?’ and disconnected the call. Upon call-back, the husband stated no problem … asked the wife if she wanted to talk. Wife (caller) then got on the phone and stated that she’s fine and that she’s drunk. Caller sounded intoxicated. She advised that she was endangered for a moment, but everything is fine.”

He’s claimed the report is, if you can believe this, fake! What’s more, he’s threatened any media that reports on it:

“If any media outlet plans to run a story based on this unauthentic, false and concocted document the outlet should be prepared to deal directly with our counsel.”

There is really no surprise here. Just two weeks before the alleged wife beating incident Sweeney’s son seriously beat another young man in a fight:

Less than two weeks earlier, his son, John J. Sweeney, then 19, pleaded guilty to felony assault charges for his role in a fight that left another young man with skull fractures and blurred vision. The younger Sweeney initially faced the prospect of spending up to 15 years in prison, but a plea deal gave him youthful offender status and a sentence that included four months of weekends in jail and community service.

No surprise there either. Remember that bar fight from almost a year ago?

New York Daily News reported Sweeney, R-Clifton Park, took a blow from a Red Sox fan who’d had enough of Sweeney’s pro-Yankees banter one evening earlier this month at Bobby Van’s Steakhouse in Washington, D.C. Sweeney spokeswoman Melissa Carlson flatly denied the report, saying the alleged incident was nothing more than a “heated discussion about Yankees vs. Red Sox.”

No suprise there either – remember the Miami-Dade County Board of Elections Republican riot? Guess who couldn’t keep his anger in check there either; guess who “gave the signal”?

The suddenly prominent Mr. Sweeney is credited for giving the signal for last week’s productive Republican fracas inside the Miami Dade county offices, after which the canvassing board abruptly canceled a hand recount of votes that would have helped Al Gore.

How about his refusal to answer questions about the ORDA sweetheart deals he was passing to his lobbyist buddies?

How about his lies regarding why he won’t debate?

How about his lies about his opponents place of residence?

How about his attempt to distance himself from his record of supporting the Bush Administration.

Or his voting in support of the positions of the Christian Coalition 69% of the time.

Or his voting for prayer in public schools on numerous occasions. The National Education Association gives him only an 18% approval rating.

Or his voting for making it a federal crime to transport minors across state lines for an abortion. His record is 90% anti-abortion.

Or his voting to ban adoptions by gays or other individuals who are not related by blood or marriage (HR 2587). Sweeney has just a 21% rating by the ACLU.

Or his support for free trade, tax cuts, and social security privatization.

According to his wikipedia entry:

Sweeney also opposes environmental protections and was given a “D” grade by EANY for opposing GE dredging of PCB aka Polychlorinated biphenyl from the Hudson River.

In 2001, Sweeney voted against a bill that would require increasing average fuel efficiency standards and offer incentives for alternative fuel vehicles. (Bill HR 4).

Sweeney received an “F” on the Drum Major Institute’s 2005 Congressional Scorecard on middle class issues.

According to EMILY’s List, Sweeney has taken more campaign contributions from special interests than any other of New York’s 29 Representatives.

Sweeney is also the seventh largest recipient of contributions from lobbyists out of all 435 House representatives.

Then there is the January 2001 trip Sweeney made to the North Marianas with Tony C. Rudy, an associate of convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Sweeney has said that the North Marianas Islands government paid for the trip, but the government denied that. And just what is the Jack Abramoff – Lake George – John Sweeney connection?

Then there is also this:

On April 11, 2003, Sweeney began paying a company called Creative Consulting for fund-raising. The company had been founded a day earlier by Gaia (goes by the name Gayle) Ford. Between April 2003 and December 2003, Sweeney’s campaign paid $42,570 to the firm.

Sweeney’s wife, who had no previous fund-raising experience, gets 10 percent of whatever she raises. Between January 2005 and April 2006, Ford was paid $30,879. And that’s not all the fundraising scandals.

And there was this classic:

On April 22, 2006, Sweeney reportedly appeared at a registered party at the Alpha Delta Phi fraternity of Union College. Witnesses reported that, after leaving a bar, he appeared to be intoxicated. Photographs and videos captured some of the events. Sweeney denied being drunk and denied drinking at the party.

All of this seems to pale by comparison, if that’s possible, to his alleged drunk driving incident:

On the night of January 23, 2001, around 10:00 p.m., Sweeney lost control of his 2001 Jeep Laredo and hit a utility pole on a rural upstate road, shutting down power to the homes of several residents and to the nearby Willard Mountain ski resort, stranding skiers aloft on the chairlifts. Sweeney was not charged or ticketed, and the state trooper on the scene refused the offer by a volunteer-fire-department chief to send a crew to the site to direct traffic (instead, a local resident did this, for an hour and a half, with downed and live electrical wires about). In early February, a local newspaper reported that Sweeney had been in a bar before the crash. Witnesses came forward to insist that Sweeney had only one or two glasses of wine. The newspaper noted that Sweeney was not given a sobriety test by the state trooper on the scene.

Now for the resignations:

State Police Superintendent Wayne Bennett
Awarded for allowing Sweeney to get away without a sobriety test in 2001 and for covering up the domestic abuse incident.

Saratoga County Republican Chairman John “Jasper” Nolan
Awarded for lying to the citizens of his county by stating that the domestic abuse document was forged and saying “In my mind, that certainly came from the Gillibrand camp. And I think it’s low and disgusting.”

Warren County Republican Chairman Michael Grasso
Ditto, though he said “It’s obviously garbage”

The Editors of Glens Falls Post Star
Awarded for failing to protect the citizens of their community by endorsing Sweeney.

“Kirsten Gillibrand is a strong candidate and has waged a solid campaign. But she’s just not experienced enough to have her first elected position be congresswoman. If you want a candidate who has the political clout and experience to help the region, then put aside any misgivings you might have about his conduct and vote for John Sweeney on Nov. 7.”

Yeah… sure – exactly what job did he have before being elected in a heavily germandered district held by the retired Gerald Solomon? That’s three years as Executive Director & Chief Counsel of the New York Republican Party and then two years appointment by George Pataki as New York State Commissioner of Labor.

What he does have experience in, as someone at the TU Capitol Confidental blog pointed out:

No oversight of Bush
No oversight of the war in Iraq
No oversight of the war in Afghanistan
No oversight on whether or not we are torturing detainees
No oversight of the Dept of Homeland Security
No oversight of the Katrina reconstruction
A Congressman who turns a blind eye to sweatshops

A Congressman who thinks that NYS taxpayers should pay for junkets for his campaign contributors

A Congressman who, through his wife, collects a percentage of all the money that is donated to his campaign fund.

But hey, at least he’s experienced. He may be a disgrace to his office, but he’s an experienced disgrace.

We couldn’t agree more – the people of New York’s 20th Congressional District, perhaps one of the most important of the Adirondack election districts deserve better that one of the 20 Most Corrupt Members of Congress. Even veterans don’t like him any more – but that’s ok with Sweeney, he likes millioniares more than veterans anyway.

Oh.. and one last resignation – Sweeney Spokeswoman and North Creek resident Maureen Donovan, the former Warren County Development Corp [read scam development corp] leader who seemingly opposes both the rights of women and the electorate. The first volley in the Sweeney Gillibrand campaign was fired by Weeney in May 2006:

“You can’t take a resumé and a pretty face from New York City and say to people this is good for you simply because we can spend a lot of money and raise a lot of money,” Sweeney told the Troy Record.

“Someone should tell John Sweeney that it’s 2006, not 1906,” Former State Democratic Chiar Judith Hope said, adding that “the remarks jumped out at me because I think it’s so inappropriate for the congressman to use. … As a woman in politics, I call on Mr. Sweeney to represent the district and address the issues and provide accountability and some answers.”

What was Donovan’s response?

Sweeney campaign spokeswoman Maureen Donovan fired back that Hope “needs to lighten up a little bit.”

That’s no suprise either. Anyone who’s met Donovan’s husband – who is the notorious owner of Casey’s North bar on Route 28 – can probably already guess what the Donovans think of local Adirondackers, male or female.

We only hope local Adirondackers will remember what Sweeney thinks of them.

John Warren

John Warren

John Warren founded Adirondack Almanack in 2005 and oversees the day-to-day operations of the site in addition to editing The New York History Blog.

He has worked in media for 30 years as a print journalist, a documentary television producer, and now in new media. He's on the staff of the New York State Writers Institute and is the author of two books of regional history.

John's weekly Adirondack Outdoors Conditions Report airs across the Adirondack North Country Region on the North Country Public Radio network.

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