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

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

Friday, June 30, 2006

The Corruption of Fossella, week in review

There has been so much coverage of the Corruption of Fossella that I had been focusing on one or two articles or alleged events per day figuring I would be kept busy earning my honorary investigative reporting degree and have articles from now until election. However the Daily News has been so amazing in its daily follow-ups, now on its sixth day, that I just want to put it all out there to try to comprehend the true scope of what we are finding out. As you read through this something to keep in the back of your mind is, does this sound like the average life of a hard working Staten Islander?

Saturday June 24: Jet-set Vito flyin' on campaign cash, NY Daily News

Since 2000, Fossella, who served as Republican chairman of Mayor Bloomberg's reelection effort last year, has spent $53,142 in campaign funds on trips to luxury resorts in Las Vegas, Colorado and Florida, often with his wife and children in tow.

During some of the trips, Fossella spent campaign money on personal items such as ski schools and lift tickets, expenses that are prohibited.

The News investigation also found that Fossella routinely fails to identify the nature of the expenses and sometimes does not disclose who's paying for his trips, as required by law.

This article, the first to shine the light on some very questionable expenses brings to our attention:

Fossella flew home from a trip to Florida on a private jet owned by a donor connected to the Gambino crime family, according to FBI documents.

On the same trip his $5,000 hotel bill was put on the credit card of a consulting firm, later discovered to be Epiphany Productions.

Fossella went to a Jets football playoff game in Pittsburgh paid for with campaign money.

Fossella played golf in Key Biscayne, Florida which was paid for with campaign money.

Fossella spent $1,318 in flight and hotel costs to the Bellagio in Vegas to meet with undisclosed potential campaign donors.

After questioning by the Daily News in advance of publishing their articles, Fossella amended 18 FEC contribution forms.

In the second on three articles published on the 24th, the Daily News runs: S.I. pol's tab picked up in Colo.& Florida

From 2001 through this winter, Fossella spent $25,124 in campaign donations to fly himself and his family to Vail each January.


During the trips, lobbyists joined Fossella and other Republican Congress members at one of the most luxurious hotels in America — The Lodge at Vail.

This trip to Vail it should be noted is the trip he attended with three other Congressmen, most notably Rep. Bob Ney of Ohio. Rep. Ney has been engulfed in the Jack Abramoff probe. One of his former staffers, Neil Volz has plead guilty to conspiracy and violating House rules, and was a previous donor to Rep. Fossella. The House Ethics committee also announced an investigation into potential bribery allegations against Rep. Ney.

After Vail, we are introduced to Turnberry Isle, Fla. Fossella was flown to and from Turnberry on the private jet of Richard Addeo, president of ADCO Electrical. In return he paid, $6,548, the equivalent of a first-class airfare. This despite the fact that the Daily News reports the actual cost of the private jet would have been in the neighborhood of $16,000. I just did a quick Travelocity search and found out I can fly from NYC to Miami for about $218 roundtrip, taxes included. But I guess private jet travel is how most Staten Islanders get around and I am just a little too thrifty.

Back to this private jet. Richard Addeo, the owner of the jet, president of ADCO Electrical and Fossella donor was identified as an associate of the Gambino crime family by FBI documents.

ADCO, which was not implicated in those FBI documents, is a major electrical contractor that has won numerous government contracts and often hires Fossella's engineer father, Vito Sr., records show.

ADCO executives and their wives have contributed $72,000 to Fossella in the last five years.

This of course is not the first time that companies affiliated with Fossella have been criticized for hiring relatives of our favorite member of Congress.

As if the whole jet thing wasn’t bad enough, we find out the Epiphany Productions, the firm that paid for his $5,000+ hotel expenses while at Turnberry Island has been admonished by the FEC for making illegal donations to members of congress including Rep. Fossella.

And then there is Palm Springs.

Fossella failed to disclose who paid for a Feb. 25-28, 2001, trip with his wife and children to a conference outside Palm Springs that cost $2,082.

And how about New York City, where he lives. The New York Stock Exchange paid for a fact-finding trip to send Fossella to New York City, and covered his hotel stay in Manhattan. We guess Rep. Fossella was not aware that there is a ferry between Manhattan and Staten Island and that it is a free trip. That or Fossella realized he could not get anyone to pay for a free ferry ride.

Monday June 26:
He banks on bills, NY Daily News

Days before Christmas, Rep. Vito Fossella gave a little present to some investment bankers - a bill that would hamper tough investigations of Wall Street fraud.

After Fossella filed the bill, former SEC Chairman Arthur Levitt called the Roundtable's legislation "atrocious," stating, "I don't think it's Congress' job to micromanage the SEC."

Fossella argues the bill would allow investment bankers to speak freely with the SEC without fear of retribution.

In its 2005 year-end report, the Roundtable singled out Fossella as the sponsor. It did not mention that since 1997, the Roundtable and the CEOs and presidents who sit on its board have given Fossella $65,000 in campaign contributions, campaign finance and corporate records show.

Congressman defends lavish free trips, SI Advance

We find out that Fossella has fired his long time campaign accounting firm of Maltese Potter & LaMarca LLP, even though there were no mistakes made some mistakes were made, but not illegal ones.

Tuesday June 27:
Fossella fesses to 'mistakes', NY Daily News

U.S. Rep. Vito Fossella (R-S.I.) yesterday offered contradictory positions for spending campaign cash on family ski vacations, admitting "mistakes have been made" but insisting he'd "followed the law."

Confronted by the Daily News, Fossella repeated his oxymoronic explanation again and again, wringing his hands and dodging specific questions about his campaign spending habits.

Wednesday June 28:
Fossella the finagler, NY Daily News

That startled deer caught in the headlights there - Gulp! Yeek! - is Staten Island Republican Rep. Vito Fossella, suddenly asked to explain how tens of thousands of campaign dollars, as documented by Daily News reporter Greg B. Smith, appear to have been spent on family vacations and other such personal fritters and whatnots.

State Dems urge probe of Fossella, NY Daily News

The Dems start to come out swinging. The FEC and Attorney General have been contacted by the NY Democratic Party to investigate Fossella’s use of campaign funds.

Manhattan: A Call for an Investigation, NY Times

The NY Times also runs with the story of Assemblyman Herman D. Farrell Jr, chairman of the NY Democratic Party calling for an investigation. The New York Times becomes the third major, and obviously the largest publication to now report on this story initially broke by Greg B. Smith of the Daily News.

Thursday June 29:
It's funny business in Muppet mailings

No longer is the only story Fossella’s mishaps with his potentially illegal use of campaign funds. Rep. Fossella seems to be breaking new House rules.

Rep. Vito Fossella (R-S.I.) violated House rules by using at least three photos in campaign flyers and in free mailings to constituents - including a shot of the congressman with Muppet characters Elmo and Rosita.

The violations are based on House rules that restrict taxpayer money from being used in election campaigns. Fossella’s flyer were printed up and mailed at tax payer expenses and his campaign signed forms declaring those photos used would not be used in his campaign for re-election. Of course those images ended up on his website, and were subsequently removed when his campaign was confronted with the action.

Dem demands probe of congressman, SI Advance

The Staten Island Advance runs with the story of Chairman Farrell calling for an investigation of Fossella.

Friday June 30:
Vito's Muppets mess cost 160G, says Dem rival, NY Daily News

Continuing with the mailing violations story, Stephen Harrison goes on the offensive and really brings the ethics issue back home.

But Stephen Harrison, the Democratic contender for the congressional seat, filed a complaint with the Commission on Congressional Mailing Standards yesterday, arguing four Fossella mailings contain 14 violations.

Harrison pegged the cost of the four mailings at $161,250. "That money would go a long way toward shielding a Humvee or providing body armor for some of troops," he said, calling the misuse of free mailings "a conscious and deliberate decision."

Rep. Vito Fossella, working hard at making sure his family goes on vacation a lot at your expense.

Brooklyn Papers covers the mailing ethics violations.


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