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

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

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Fossella and Abramoff revisited

In the Washingtonian there is an interesting piece from a reporter who befriended Abramoff long before scandals enveloped him. Reading through it reminded me of some past queries about the potential connections between Fossella and Abramoff.

Jack expressed anger at politicians who now claimed they never knew him. He was particularly annoyed that Montana senator Conrad Burns had been quoted as saying he wished Jack “had never been born.”

“Was he wishing I was not born when we were together in Florida, or when we were dining at Signatures, or when he was using our sports boxes or getting tons of money?” he said later in an e-mail. [via the Washingtonian]

While Vito did go to Florida, there is no indication Abramoff was with him but the story doesn't end that easily. There is this 2004 campaign expenditure from Abramoff's restaurant Signatures. And then there is that Jan 5, 2006 SI Advance article about Fossella's fund raiser at a private luxury sports box at Camden yards. The same event the NRCC touted that Abramoff and Tony Rudy would be in attendance at.

Of Ohio congressman John Boehner he said, “He dined and drank at Signatures with the best of them.” [via the Washingtonian]

Curiously this seems to indicate the nefarious nature of law makers using Signatures restaurant, even if they were not sitting at the head of a table with Abramoff and his clients. According to Jack, just dining and drinking there, or in other words just being seen there leaves no doubt about the expected nature of the visit.

And I will end with this quote from Fossella that appeared later in the SI Advance article from above, and a seemingly appropriate final quote from the article on Abramoff;

"All I can tell you is I don't know [Abramoff]". -Rep. Fossella

"It puzzles me as well. They could so quickly dismiss all of this nonsense if they would just tell the truth. I often now wonder what it is about politicians which causes them to lie to protect themselves, even in the face of constant reminders that doing so only causes the problems to get worse." -Jack Abramoff [via the Washingtonian]

Sunday, January 28, 2007

More honorary resolutions from Fossella

Via Rep. Fossella's January 25, 2007 press release;

Congressman Vito Fossella’s (R-NY13) Congressional Resolution honoring the nation’s Catholic schools unanimously passed the House of Representatives this Tuesday 428-0. The week of January 28 – February 3 is designated “Catholic Schools Week.”

This probably will play rather well in the district, which is largely Roman Catholic [looking for exact numbers]. Nonetheless it is still disappointing that Fossella seems to be on pace to set a personal best for the amount of non-legislative resolutions, that do little more than offer words of thanks to the subjects. This is what Fossella has been relegated to in the minority now.

See also:
Fossella proposes ... something
Vito's clout in DC
What exactly does Vito do?

Thursday, January 25, 2007

John Lavelle

New York State Assemblyman and Staten Island Democratic Party chair John Lavelle passed away last night.

Roy Moskowitz comments over at Daily Gotham
New York Daily News
SI Advance

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Republicans stand up to Bush, Fossella indifferent

via CNN;

"Sen. John Warner, the former GOP chairman and influential member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, is set to introduce a second resolution Monday that expresses criticism of President Bush's call for a troop increase in Iraq, a move Bush Administration officials have scrambled to avoid." (co-sponsored by Sen Collins R-Maine, Nelson D-Nebraska)

via CNN;

"Boehner [Republican Minority Leader] will send a letter to Speaker Pelosi, D-California, suggesting the formation of a new bi-partisan panel devoted exclusively to Iraq oversight, a senior GOP aide tells CNN." edit my own

via CNN;

The Biden-Hagel-Levin resolution says that "U.S. strategy and presence on the ground in Iraq can only be sustained with the support of the American people and bipartisan support from Congress."

During a news conference announcing the resolution, Hagel [R-Nebraska], a Vietnam War veteran who is a leading Republican voice on foreign policy issues, called the president's plan "dangerously irresponsible." edit my own

And then there is Rep. Vito Fossella, who through his indifference continues to support President Bush and his 28% approval rating (1% of that is Vito and his staff);

"On the war in Iraq, Fossella remains loyal to the Bush administration" [NY1]

via My Way, this is in addition to Sen. Hagel (R-Nebraska)

At least eight other Republican senators say they now back legislative proposals registering objections to Bush's decision to boost U.S. military strength in Iraq by 21,500 troops.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Fossella's ski partner Rep. Ney gets 30 months in prison

via MSNBC;

Former Ohio Republican Representative Bob Ney, the only member of Congress to be criminally charged in the Jack Abramoff-lobbying scandal, was sentenced today to 30 months in prison and fined $6,000 by U.S. District Judge Ellen S. Huvelle.

The Justice Department had asked for a term of 27 months in prison. The sentence was harsher than recommended by prosecutors or Ney's lawyers, Huvelle said, because Ney had violated the trust place on him as a public official. "Both your constituents and the public trusted you to represent them honestly," she said.

Of course we know former Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH), he is the one in the middle, from the lavish lobbyist events he held in Vail Colorado, which Rep. Vito Fossella had attended from 2001-2006. With this prison sentence we are saddened at the reality that Rep. Fossella will have no one to ski with this year. We recommend he gets in touch with former Rep. Sweeney from upstate who has some connections with ski resorts in Lake Placid.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Does Fossella support Bush's troop surge?

"A group of New York grandmothers who continually protest the war through demonstrations, vigils and media blitzes plans to lobby every U.S. senator today to condemn President Bush's decision to send 21,500 more American troops into Iraq to quell sectarian violence.


Rep. Vito Fossella (R-Staten Island/Brooklyn) did not return calls to discuss his stance yesterday. Fossella, who voted to authorize the war in 2002, sidestepped questions on whether he supports the increase after the president's announcement last week. He spoke in generalities, calling the plan an indication "of what's necessary in order to bring about a stable, peaceful Iraq that's in the best interest of the United States." (via Marc Parent)"

Thing Progress has 415 members of Congress on record on this issue with Rep. Fossella "refusing to answer"

31 Republicans in the House and Senate outright oppose the President's plan, with 19 leaning towards opposing it.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

GOP Good News on SI?

The New York Times decides to do a post election story about the GOP in Staten Island. Why now, who knows? But they decide to highlight the success of the party based on the fact that they didn't get beat as badly as the party did elsewhere in the state.

But there is one area in New York City where the Republicans have dominated and show little sign of losing control: Staten Island.

They note that Fossella did not lose against a vigorous Harrison, and decide that not flipping any seats is "domination". Of course they lost Mirones' assembly seat to Democrats when Janele Hyer-Spencer won a close race. Here is to giving the GOP even more good news like this in February and again in 2008.

Fossella proposes ... something

Following his successful previous term of managing to introduce many bills that tend to recognize various anniversaries, yet fail to actually improve anyone's lives, Rep. Vito Fossella has once again introduced another meaningless resolution in the House.

H.RES. 54
Honoring Alexander Hamilton on the 250th anniversary of his birth.

Don't get me wrong, Alexander Hamilton is a very crucial individual in the development of our nation. However there are some issues I feel are more urgently in need of legislation such TRICARE, which extends health care options to our reservists and national guard protecting our country.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

City Council: Innamorato's ground game should pay off

More broadening our Democratic bench.

Tom Wrobleski writes today about Manny Innamorato's petitioning updates, noting he has 1,600 signatures already, with 1,400 required to gain ballot access. By contrast Vinny Ignizio has already turned in 2,500. The difference is the collection process. While Ignizio managed to do a major signature push over three days focusing on high trafficed public locations, Innamorato is taking the more personable approach and going door to door introducing himself to voters and essentially building a GOTV effort for Democrats on the South Shore to emmulate in future campaigns. This is wonderful news, and something that should have been a long time in the makings for Dems. This type of campaigning has paid its dividends for many grassroots candidates across the country and even in larger federal races. As a somewhat seasoned volunteer for various campaigns I find my motivation drastically raised when I see the candidate I am working to get elected side by side on the street wearing down their shoe soles with their volunteers.

via Tom's blog post today;

But McMahon said it’s not just about getting signatures; it’s about building a likely-voter base, so the personal contact is paramount.

“Manny’s doing a lot of door-to-door, meeting people, talking one-on-one,” he said. “Those are potential voters. It’s a foundationary tool for getting out the vote. That process begins with petitioning.”

Innamorato's efforts should really pay off. The question though is how soon?

Fossella dealt major committee and donor loses

Following on the heels of yesterday's DCCC announcement that they are targeting Rep. Vito Fossella as one of six ethically challenged House members, today the news comes that Fossella has lost his seat on the House Financial Services Committee.

While we earlier petitioned that Fossella leave that committee and petition to become a member of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs to better serve his community and protect our veterans interests, this turn out nonetheless is a welcome sign.

The implications of this committee change should definitely now pose a major threat to his re-election bid. As we covered earlier in our posing the suggestion that he be removed from the Financial Services Committee, some of his largest donors come from sectors that benefited from his service and potential limitation of oversight.

Financial Services oversees the banking, insurance, real estate and securities industries, which are critical to New York's Wall Street-driven economy and which employ numerous Island residents. (via the SI Advance)

The side benefit, and reason for suggesting these moves is that Rep. Fossella receives large amounts of financial support from the industries that benefit from limited oversight by these two committees; financial institutions and real estate/housing. Fossella's largest sector donations come from the Finance, Insurance and Real Estate sector, a total of nearly $1.5 million in donations and influence, $358,790 of that just in the last election cycle.

2004-06 Donors (via Opensecrets.org)
1. Securities & Investment: $109,500
3. Real Estate: $86,050
4. Insurance: $60,250
5. Health Professionals: $52,700
7. Accountants: $37,400
9. Commercial Banks: $33,790

A Democratic congressional aide in Washington said that Fossella's "sphere of influence" would now be more limited, but an Island Republican official said that borough residents would be little affected by the change. (via the SI Advance)

Little did I realize how accurate my later update to that post would become;

This is actually something I should keep a closer watch on. Should Fossella get moved from one of his committees he served on last term (04-06) consider that a good sign that this seat is on the DCCC's list in 08 and that they are going to start the race early.

Friday, January 12, 2007

The DCCC focuses on Fossella for '08

via the Stakeholder;

At the DCCC we are aggressively on offense and working to put thirty-five Republican seats in play.


The 2006 cycle proved that ethics matters to average voters. While there were several Republicans defeated this past cycle as a direct result of their ethical lapses, a handful returned to Washington and should be considered among the most vulnerable.

We will aggressively work in districts targeting ethically challenged incumbents like Tim Murphy (PA-18), Gary Miller (CA-42), Rick Renzi (AZ-01), John Doolittle (CA-04), Jerry Lewis (CA-41) and Vito Fossella (NY-13).

This just made things real interesting. Last time the DCCC tried to get involved created some rather bad publicity and ended poorly with DeBlasio deciding not to enter the race. I have to believe that the DCCC has its eyes on candidates already and won't make the same mistakes again, which may not be good news for Harrison should he decide to run again.

It wouldn't hurt any to go comment on the article at the Stakeholder and thank them for focusing on this district, and discussing the ethical trouble of Rep. Vito Fossella.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Fossella vs. low income constituents

Ah the hypocrisy of Vito Fossella.

Since 1999 Rep. Vito Fossella has done everything he can to prevent the same or similar legislation to the Mimimum Wage bill he voted for yesterday, from making it to the floor in Congress for a vote. He refused to cosponsor any of that legislation, even though there was often bipartisan support. He refused to sign a discharge petition which would have required it be voted on. Keep that in mind when you re-read some poverty statistics about Staten Island we covered this past year;

"...the poverty level in Staten Island has increased to 10.1% in 2003. Staten Island has a projected population of 464,573 in 2005, equating to about 46,000 people living below the poverty line." July 13, 2006

"The 2000 Census shows that in Staten Island family household income was struggling to make ends meet. 15.2% of the borough made less than $25,000..."

5.3% made less than $10,000
3.3% made $10,000 to $14,999
6.6% made $15,000 to $24,999

What has Rep. Vito Fossella done about this? [via his Issues page]
* He helped eliminate the Estate Tax which covers fewer than 2% of estates. In 2006, the tax is applicable to estates valued over $2,000,000.
* He helped provide tax credits for families who can afford to send their children to private schools.
* He defeated the proposal to eliminate mortgage deductions on taxes.
* Protected residents from the Alternative Minimum Tax which he notes effects families with incomes well over $50,000. August 14, 2006

That $10,000/year threshold is what a minimum wage worker would have earned working 40 hrs a week without vacation/holiday time. Consider the other 9.9% make too much money to even be effected by a minimum wage increase and they top out at $24,999 for a household per year. Should the Senate pass a similar bill and the President not veto it, in 26 months when the minimum wage rises to $7.25/hr a minimum wage worker will only be then making $15,000/yr. Thanks Rep. Fossella for all of your hard work on this issue!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Vito opposed minimum wage bill, long before he voted for it

via CNN;

The Democratic-controlled House voted Wednesday to increase the federal minimum wage to $7.25 an hour, bringing America's lowest-paid workers a crucial step closer to their first raise in a decade.

The vote was 315-116, with 82 Republicans joining Democrats to pass it.

The full text of the bill, H.R. 2 is here. Rep. Vito Fossella was one of those 82 Republicans voting in the affirmative on this bill, which is wonderful news considering the staggering realities of poverty in Staten Island.

Now that would be a good end to the story, but it gets real interesting. The same exact bill was submitted in 2005, H.R. 2429 (compare the date and text to this one in 2007), back when the House was controlled by Republicans, like Rep. Fossella. Rep. Fossella refused to cosponsor the bill and refused to sign a discharge petition allowing it the chance to be brought to a vote on the House floor.

Since Rep. Fossella has been a member of Congress almost identical bills have been introduced in 1999 H.R. 325, 2001 H.R. 665, 2002 H.R. 4799, and the exact same bill was introduced in 2003 H.R. 965, and 2004 H.R. 4256. (My apologies for not having links for all, the THOMAS database does not supply permanent xml url's for the older bills)

So the question is what has changed? Why did Rep. Fossella refuse to support the exact same bill two and three years ago and the essentially identical bills five, six and eight years ago? Why has Rep. Fossella refused to allow workers in his district a minimum wage increase since at least 1999?

Sunday, January 07, 2007

The Hypocriscy of Fossella

Earlier this week the House passed H. Res. 6 by a vote of 430-1, with Rep. Fossella voting in the affirmative. So what did he vote for?

Via the Washington Post;

The changes would prohibit House members or employees from knowingly accepting gifts or travel from a registered lobbyist, foreign agent or lobbyist's client. Lawmakers could no longer fly on corporate jets. In addition, congressional travel financed by outside groups would have to be approved in advance by the House ethics committee and immediately disclosed to the public.

The reason I highlight this aside from feeling optimistic about some of these changes, is that Rep. Fossella who voted for it, would have violated most of these rules with his prior transgressions. So the lingering question is that if Fossella found these issues needed to be prohibited, why then did he partake in them in his prior potentially unethical activities? Clearly by voting for these rules he has to know he is restricting the very actions he participates in every year. The following quotes are from Greg Smith's Daily News piece;

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

Fossella's $5,683 bill at Turnberry Isle was paid for by Epiphany Productions, a political consultant firm,

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.

Fossella declined to reveal the names of the lobbyists or donors.

Fossella failed to disclose that in February 2002 he flew to Miami and back on a private jet owned by a corporate donor, the now-deceased Richard Addeo, who was president of ADCO Electrical.

SEC 206; (2) A Member, Delegate, Resident Commissioner, officer, or employee of the House may not accept a reimbursement (including payment in kind) for transportation, lodging, or related expenses under the exception in paragraph (b)(1)(C)(ii) of this clause for a trip that is financed in whole or in part by a private entity that retains or employs registered lobbyists or agents of a foreign principal unless any involvement of a registered lobbyist or agent of a foreign principal in the planning, organization, request, or arrangement of the trip is de minimis under rules prescribed by the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct to implement paragraph (b)(1)(C) of this clause.

So Rep. Vito Fossella finds these actions so dangerous that he has to vote to ban them, yet failed to question them when he was reaping their benefits for his personal benefit. Antics like this is the reason Congress passed this on the very first day, just hours after they were sworn in.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

The Bridge, round II

Rep. Nadler is discussing legislation to reintroduce two way tolls on the Verrazano Bridge, as a means to reduce congestion and pollution it causes in lower Manhattan. He cites the effectiveness of E-ZPass at eliminating congestion. Via the Staten Island Advance;

And with E-ZPass now allowing cars to drive through toll collection points without reducing speeds, Islanders' rallying cry that a two-way toll would exacerbate congestion on the Staten Island Expressway is immaterial, Gottheim argued.

Gottheim is the district director of Nadler's Manhattan office. Note the "without reducing speeds" which highlights the high speed EZ-Pass plan Stephen Harrison introduced during his campaign. Of course Vito called that concept "wacky" and then we find out it actually does work and is currently implemented in Ontario with great effectiveness. But clearly there are many problems as Vito would have you believe, such as not everyone having EZ-Pass;

"You could demand that only E-ZPass goes over the bridge," he added. On an average weekday, about 78 percent of the 194,000 vehicles that cross the Verrazano in either direction use E-ZPass.

Require E-ZPass = elimination of all toll both created congestion. Brilliant! Before questions of feasibility arise, this may already be happening in Switzerland;

the entire Autobahn system of Switzerland is likewise, even though there is a "mandatory" E-Z Pass rule implemented

Friday, January 05, 2007

Petitioning for Manny Innamorato

Manny Innamorato and Assemblyman Cusick

Petitioning for the Special Election for the 51st City Council District started on Wednesday, and we have less than two weeks to gather the 3,000 signatures the campaign needs. Manny Innamorato needs your help this weekend! The weather is unseasonably mild, which means it is perfect for petitioning.

Manny's campaign office is located at 166 Scranton Avenue, SIDE DOOR (entrance is on Lovelace Avenue). This is near Richmond Avenue in Eltingville. Call Jason at Manny's office at 917-750-4206. Email is info@mannyforcouncil.com, and the website is www.mannyforcouncil.com.

This is Lanza's former seat, so we don't want to replace him with another Republican. It will probably be warmer this weekend than it was on election day, so consider it practice for petitioning for the '08 Congressional race.

Rep. Fossella America disagrees with you

CBS has released a new poll with some bad numbers for not only President Bush but ultimately for Rep. Fossella.


Approve: 23%
Disapprove: 72%


Increase U.S. troops: 12%
Keep same number of troops: 8%
Decrease U.S. troops: 35%
Remove all U.S. troops: 36%

So 72% disagrees with how the President is handling Iraq, and 71% want a decrease or complete removal of our troops from Iraq. So what does Vito think? We you might recall these choice statements;

On Oct 29, we posted commentary on NY1's interview, where Vito states;

“I think I can break ways when some of the policies at the national level are not in the interest of my communities, so I'll continue to do that,” said Fossella.


On the war in Iraq, Fossella remains loyal to the Bush administration, arguing it's not time to remove the troops from Iraq.

At some point long ago, Vito lost sight that he is elected by the people and Congress is suppose to represent us and not the views of the President. This country clearly wants to bring our troops home and no longer support Vito and Bush's failed war. And remember this moment on CNN that we covered on Oct 19th;

FOSSELLA: No, I think that clearly we have to stay the course in Iraq. Nobody said this job was going to be easy, including the president of the United States.

FOSSELLA: The president of the United States, as he said a couple of weeks ago in his press conference, believes that the United States must stay the course.


And we will stay the course and until the job is done. And, ultimately, not only will the Iraqi people have the same freedoms that we enjoy here in America to pick their own leaders, but we can rest assured that there will be a stable democracy in the Middle East that will help us and others bring peace and stability and security to the American people.

Remember that NY1 interview was just two months ago, and he has still yet to back down from his comments on CNN, so he has done nothing to show he has any clue just how disasterious all of this is. Hopefully he stays in that 23% that supports the President's handling of Iraq and 2008 will be even more fun then watching him get kicked around in 2006 was.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

110th Congress

Speaker of the House Pelosi, has just sworn in the 110th Congress, including our favorite member of Congress Rep. Vito Fossella, who hopefully is serving his last term and probably working many longer hours than last term.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

A plea to Rep. Filner, recruit Rep. Fossella

Dear Madame Speaker Pelosi and Chairman Filner,

It has come to my attention through an article at the Army Times that Rep. Filner will take over the Chairmanship of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs, and thus the recipient of this probably unusual request. I am writing to suggest that you use your influence to suggest that Rep. Fossella (R-NY) is assigned to the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs as opposed to one of the other committees he served on in the last term, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and the House Committee on Financial Services.

As you may know the thirteenth Congressional district here in New York is home to the Brooklyn VA Medical Center as well as Fort Hamilton. Both of these Rep. Fossella proudly claims he was an integral part of saving them from recent closure this past year. In fact in one of his five debates with his Democratic opponent this past fall, saving these two local institutions was third most important reason he gave his constituents to re-elect him. Thus it is no overstatement to say that Veterans' issues are crucial to him and his district, and a main reason why I think his services on that committee would be more meaningful.

The House Committee on Veterans' Affairs has lost two of its Republican members; Rep. Michael Bilirakis (retired), Rep. Jeb Bradley (lost re-election) as well as having a prior vacancy. Thus there appears as though there may be some room on this committee for Rep. Fossella and his new found dedication for Veterans Issues.

Aside from the local benefits of having Rep. Fossella in a position to work hard to protect our VA Hospitals, we place the Democratic candidate in 2008 in a stronger financial position to make this seat competitive. Rep. Fossella receives large amounts of financial support from the industries that benefit from limited oversight by these two committees; financial institutions and real estate/housing. Fossella's largest sector donations come from the Finance, Insurance and Real Estate sector, a total of nearly $1.5 million in donations and influence, $358,790 of that just in the last election cycle. This is about one third of his total warchest he used during the 2006 election.

While Rep. Fossella's prior position on the House Committee on Financial Services brought very little to the district a new seat on the House Committee on Veterans' Services can bring some much needed support and services to his own constituents. In closing I appreciate your consideration of this request.

the NY13 blog

Rep. Fossella with Rep. Buyer, former Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs, touring the Brooklyn VA Hospital.