NY13 Blog; Retaking NY-13 from Rep. Vito Fossella

Following the corruption, ineffectiveness and hypocrisy of Rep. Vito Fossella.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Stephen Harrison

So Mike McMahon has the nomination if he wants it, as I can't see a contested primary after the party has been less than expediant in lining up a candidate. If he doesn't want it then the nomination is Vincent Gentile's if he wants it. Then today we learn that if neither of them want to carry the torch for the party then Brooklyn attorney Stephen Harrison will run.

Mike McMahon is term limited out of office at the end of this current city council term. He is believed to possibly have his sights set on the Staten Island Borough Presidency currently held by James P. Molinaro, who will be term limited out of this office creating a vacany and the possibility of a Democratic pick up of this position.

Should McMahon and Gentile for some reason not jump into this race, Stephen Harrison, our candidate in the wings, lost to Gentile in 2003 during a special election. Gentile won with 3261 votes, his next opponent had 3230 and in third Harrison had 781 votes. Not promising. My money is on Gentile getting the nod for this seat.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Candidate movement

The NYTimes has it, registration required:
Both Vincent J. Gentile, who represents Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, and Michael E. McMahon, whose district includes the North Shore of Staten Island, said they were meeting with other Democratic leaders to determine whether to run against Mr. Fossella.


Both Democratic councilmen said that they considered Mr. Fossella vulnerable, adding that the district had become even more Democratic since the 2000 census. Each said he would make a decision to run in the next two weeks.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Fossella and Ney

Raw Story is reporting that Rep. Fossella attended the The Lodge at Vail event with dozens of lobbyists and four Republican House members, most notably embattled Representative Bob Ney (R-Ohio) who has been closely tied to lobbying efforts by Jack Abramoff.

A nice companion piece from Bloomberg.com detailing the ethical problems of Rep. Fossella participating in these ski outings:
The trips allowed lawmakers to skirt rules barring company lobbyists from directly financing their travel, an issue that House Majority Leader Tom DeLay may face before a congressional ethics panel. Instead, companies such as Morgan Stanley and Fannie Mae gave to ``leadership'' political-action committees, which legally paid for gear, lift tickets and drinks for lawmakers.

Rep. Fossella has being visiting the Lodge at Vail for a few years 2003, 2004, and 2005.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Hyer-Spencer is out

Since I received an invite to a fund raiser for her campaign to win AD-60 I am going to chalk that up to mean she is out of the race for NY13. I guess technically she was never in the race and thus this is a non announcement.

Looks like it is time to start the Draft Ficus campaign.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Visitors from D.C.

Just wanted to say hi to the site traffic that is coming in from Washington D.C., more specifically from the House of Representatives servers.

Leave a comment or email next time you stop by. And if you are from Fossella's office, care to comment about whether or not he knows or ever met with Tony Rudy?

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Fossella and Abramoff

via CNN, on Abramoff

He also gave officials meals at his restaurant Signatures and seats in his luxury boxes at sporting events.

We know, or make that we are told that Rep. Fossella doesn't know Abramoff and that we should just take his word for it and move on. We are told that the NRCC announcement that Abramoff (and Tony Rudy) would be attending a Fossella fund raiser at Camden Yards in 2002, but that is refutted by Fossella's office. Now we find a reported campaign expenditure from 2004 that Rep. Fossella spent $356 at Abramoff's D.C. restuarant Signatures.

The Cost of not Opposing Fossella

Expenditures by Rep. Fossella
2004 expenditures while running against Barbaro:

Buyer for Congress, $1,000 (IN-04)
Norm Coleman for US Senate, $1,000 (Sen-MN)
Taff for Congress, $1,000 (candidate for KS-03, lost and indicted)
Talent for Senate, $1,000 (Sen-MO)

total: $4,000

Compare that to 2002 when the Democratic challenger only spent $7,000;

Brad Barton for Congress, $4,000 (candidate for TX-31)
Buyer for Congress, $4,000 (IN-04)
Chris Chocola for Congress, $1,000 (IN-02)
Forbes for Congress, $5,000 (VA-04)
Gekas for Congress, $1,000 (PA, lost as incumbent)
Grucci for Congress, $1,000 (NY-1, lost as incumbent)
John Thune for South Dakota, $1,000 (Sen-SD)
McCollum for U.S. Senate, $4,000 (candidate Sen-FL)
Mike Rogers for Congress, $1,000 (AL-03)
Norm Coleman for US Senate, $1,000 (Sen-MN)
Pat Toomey for Congress, $1,000 (PA-15)
Porter for Congress, $1,000 (NV-03)
Stuart Johnson for Congress, $500 (CA-36)
Taff for Congress, $1,000 (candidate for KS-03, indicted)
Talent for Senate Committee, $1,000 (Sen-MO)

total: $27,500

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

ASG Closing

Washington Post

Alexander Strategy Group, which had thrived since its founding in 1998 thanks largely to its close connections to DeLay (R-Tex.), will cease to operate except for a relatively small business-development division, Edwin A. Buckham, the former top DeLay aide who owns the company, said yesterday.


Rudy, a former DeLay aide, worked for Abramoff before joining ASG. According to the plea document, a political consulting firm run by Rudy's wife allegedly received $50,000 in exchange for official actions Rudy took while working for DeLay.

A senior ASG employee, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of ongoing discussions at the firm, said Rudy will be leaving the company. Rudy did not return phone calls yesterday.

It would be nice if we had a Democratic challenger who could be asking Rep. Fossella why Tony Rudy was slated to appear with him at that pesky Orioles game in 2002.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

The Alexander Strategy Group

Rep. Fossella serves on the subcommittee for Telecommunication and the Internet. Rep. Fossella's office has received 13 trip sponsored by the communications industry for a total of $19,483 [link]. Two of those trips were funded by Bell South Corp.

Bell South Corp. used Alexander Strategy Group as a lobbying firm, [link].

Aside from the outstanding resume credentials of being a former aide to Rep. Tom DeLay, Tony Rudy [bio] was a partner at the law firm of Greenberg Traurig prior to joining ASG, Alexander Strategy Group. Greenberg Traurig we know as the law firm that Rep. Fossella's office have cited as the source of the sky box at Camden Yards where he held a fund raising event that the RNCC listed as being attended by Jack Abramoff and Tony Rudy.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Culture of Corruption

"The U.N. seems to be a scandal within a scandal within a scandal and the only language they understand is money, and it's time for U.S. taxpayers to stop footing the bill for a corrupt mentality" Fossella (Dec. 2004).

A year later and it seems we can replace the U.N. with "Republican Party" as a "scandal within a scandal within a scandal and the only language they understand is money".

A list of skybox fundraising events maintained by Abramoff at his former law firm, Greenberg Traurig, lists 72 events for members of Congress between 1999 and 2003. All but eight were put on for Republicans, many of them members of the House leadership.

via Washington Post

Yesterday the Staten Island Advance ran a story about the National Republican Congressional Campaign Committee listing this; "Join Vito Fossella ... with Tony Rudy and Jack Abramoff for a baseball game" in 2002. A spokeperson for the NRCC says it was a mistake, and Fossella and his campaign committee have produced invitations that make no mention of Abramoff. The article goes on to quote Fossella, "All I can tell you is I don't know [Abramoff]". Fossella wants Abramoff associated with him as much as anyone wants gum on the bottom of their shoe. For someone who has dodged so many of the corruption labels that are bringing down his fellow Republicans, any association can only create trouble. It only makes it more humorous that it is his own NRCC that opened the door, mistake or not. (updated)

While the focus of the article is the Abramoff connection, or lack thereof, it briefly mentions Tony Rudy and quickly moves on. But who is this Tony Rudy who the NRCC listed as someone joining Rep. Fossella for this skybox fundraiser? Bloomberg.com fills us in:

One partner, former DeLay aide Tony Rudy, is now a focus of a federal investigation of lobbyist Jack Abramoff.


Prosecutors are clearly looking at Rudy, 39, DeLay's former deputy staff chief. Abramoff's plea agreement states that in 2000 a DeLay aide the government called ``Staffer A'' helped the lobbyist defeat legislation that would have restricted Internet gambling. People familiar with the case later said the staffer was Rudy. In return, the wife of ``Staffer A'' was paid $50,000 through a charity, according to the plea. Rudy hasn't been charged with a crime.

Via the Plank, the blog of the New Republic we find out that Peter Stone of the National Journal says Rudy may be close to a plea bargin with federal prosecuters. The site goes on to ponder that testifying against Abramoff does not seem logical, but his connections with Abramoff and DeLay may point to Congress.

So we know the Rep. Fossella claims to not know Abramoff, but what about Tony Rudy?

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

If not now, then when?

This is an outdated link. Click here to get to the NY13 homepage.

Council member McMahon,
Assemblyperson Lavelle,
Janele Hyer-Spencer,

If the Democratic party can not seed a legitimate opponent to Vito Fossella for the 2006 election, then when are they going to stand up? In my last post I referenced a Staten Island Advance article about Assemblyperson Cusick deciding not to throw his hat into the ring. I want to revisit a quote on the second page;
"Mr. Cusick made the right decision," said one Democrat, who believes that the party's best shot at the seat might come in 2012, when the 13th Congressional District lines will have been redrawn following the 2010 census.

I can't tell you how much I object to this line of thought. With the daily discoveries and indictments stemming from the Republican party's culture of corruption, it is amazing that we can sit back and let this seat go uncontested. Just look at what we are doing with our candidates for TX-22. We ran a candidate against the majority leader Rep. DeLay in 2004 forcing him to campaign and spend $3.1 million in his home district. We now have a well funded challenger for the same seat, who declared long ago and has only reaped the benefits of DeLay's indictments and associations with Abramoff. We are well on our way to kicking DeLay out of office. This is in Texas mind you, not New York City. The point is, if we only contest seats when it is convenient for us, such as is suggested in the above quote, we as Democrats don't deserve to win those seats.

We know that Vito Fossella can easily raise $1.5 million. The question is whether we as a party will stand up and force him to spend it defending his seat or does he put it into races upstate like NY-19 (Rep. Kelly), NY-20 (Rep. Sweeney), and NY-29 (Rep. Kuhl). Personally I am a believer of winning back Congress now, not in 2012. I thank those that have made promoting the Democratic agenda a priority now and not somewhere down the line when maybe it will be easier. I don't know I can afford another six years like this past one. More importantly I don't know if my community and country can either.

So I leave you with this letter. It is a simple plea. Run. Run like you want to win this seat. Run like the future of our country depends on it, because it does.

PS: If you need some motivation just look to our neighbor to the south, Texas. They have a Democratic incumbent or challenger in 31 of 32 congressional districts. Not bad for a big red funny shaped state.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Cusick is out

Assemblyman Mike Cusick has opted not to run for this seat this term. Having to give up his state assembly seat to run was a large factor in his decision. You can read the article here

Assemblyman John Lavelle (D-North Shore), the borough Democratic leader, said he wants a candidate in place by the end of next month, but said he understands Cusick's decision.

"Giving up the Assembly seat, that's a big sacrifice to make," said Lavelle, who added that he believes a sitting incumbent would have the best shot against Fossella.

Handicapping the remaining potential candidates, Mike McMahon appears to the highest profile candidate and best chance to compete for this seat. Should he pass this up it seems as though the chances to retake this seat will dramatically fall.