Social Network Concept of the Gillibrand – D’Amato Influence Machine

Kirsten Gillibrand’s Network of Influence

* Convicted on two counts of mail and wire fraud.
** Partner in First Grafton Corp., source of evidence in Joe Bruno corruption trial.
*** Contributed $25,000 each, exactly one month prior to Paterson’s appointment of Gillibrand to U.S. Senate.
**** Instrumental in Gillibrand’s election to House, by reportedly leaking domestic violence report about opponent one week prior to election.

The diagram above is a social network-style representation of just a few of D’Amato’s political connections.  Nodes on the network are colored based on assumed political affiliations and sized based on the volume and distribution of the connections.   Arrows represent relationships and transactions. The diagram illustrates several network “transactions” — for example, the financial assistance Myron Shevell gave his daughter and then-son-in-law Bruce Blakeman enabled them to donate to George Pataki’s campaign chest.  Pataki, in turn, appointed Nancy Shevell Blakeman to the Metropolitan Transit Authority Board and husband Bruce to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

The diagram will be updated with new information and augmented to reflect past relationships and transactions. Ultimately it will represent the former senator’s sphere of influence  over politics in New York state. Contributions have obviously spread from D’Amato to all manner of Democrats and Republicans in New York, and most likely elicited “repayment” or favors in some form or another.  D’Amato’s $250,000 funding boost to David Paterson, for example, enabled D’Amato to push the governor for Kirsten Gillibrand to take the reigns in the Senate seat vacated by Hillary Clinton.

Now it seems D’Amato is hell-bent on getting Bruce Blakeman to win the GOP primary to challenge Gillibrand, even attending his official Senate announcement. Has there been a change of heart for the man in the middle, or is it just another ploy to eliminate the strongest competition his darling Kirsten Gillibrand faces from the opposing party?

In either case, D’Amato’s influence runs deeper than many are willing to admit. Now is the time to shut down the machine.

Kirsten Gillibrand’s Political Makeover (Articles)

“The Reintroduction of Kirsten Gillibrand” (New York Magazine, 6/7/09)

  • Her father was very close to D’Amato, Pataki, and Mario Cuomo.
  • Twice she was a summer intern in Senator D’Amato’s office in Albany.
  • She was awarded a clerkship with Court of Appeals judge Roger Minor.  She received the highly coveted position despite not finishing in the top 10 percent of her law class (UCLA, class of ’91).  “It was assumed that she received the position based on her father’s D’Amato connections.”

“Paterson to City: Drop Dead.” (Mother Jones, 1/23/09)

  • Gillibrand interned for D’Amato, and she served directly under Andrew Cuomo when he ran HUD.  Her father was close to both D’Amato and Mario Cuomo, Andrew’s father.

“Gillibrand and Paterson: The D’Amato Connection” (Village Voice, 1/27/09)

  • Her father Doug “was so close to D’Amato that, while still married to Gillibrand’s mother, he covertly double-dated with the then single senator, squiring a D’Amato press aide (Zenia Mucha) on a two-week Caribbean tryst to celebrate the senator’s re-election in 1992.”
  • At the 90-minute press conference where Governor Paterson announced Gillibrand would fill Hillary’s vacant Senate seat, Al D’Amato stood closer to her than Paterson or anyone else.  In fact, “Paterson’s staff kept the dignitaries in a holding room and walked them onto the stage in a prearranged order, positioning D’Amato at center stage.”
  • D’Amato, by the way, “may be Paterson’s largest single fundraiser.” In November 2008, “D’Amato hosted a $1,000-a-plate dinner for Paterson.”
  • Perhaps it is no coincidence, then, that “David and Chris Boies, Gillibrand’s former law partners and biggest backers of her political career, gave $75,000 to Paterson,” $50,000 of which was donated in the middle of Paterson’s two-month selection process.

Gillibrand is essential cog in D’Amato Machine

Still an unknown candidate to most New Yorkers, Kirsten Gillibrand would like you to believe she is a political outsider. But she comes from a well-known New York political family and has been groomed for public office for years, during which time she has mastered the art of chameleon-like deception regarding her past. It’s no surprise that her personal connections to the Alfonse D’Amato constellation of political corruption in New York run so deep.

For starters, Gillibrand’s father, Doug Rutnick, is a well-known Albany insider and lobbyist whose ties to GOP powerhouses such as D’Amato, Joe Bruno, and George Pataki are well established. Rutnick grew close to D’Amato in the 1980s and was in a 13-year personal relationship with Zenia Mucha, senior D’Amato aide as well as former policy advisor for Governor George Pataki. This connection would later come in handy for Gillibrand in her first surprising political victory when she came out of nowhere to defeat four-term Republican incumbent John Sweeney.

During her early tenure at UCLA law school, Gillibrand was an intern for two years at then Senator D’Amato’s office in Albany. Later, she scored a highly coveted clerkship with Reagan-appointed federal appellate court judge Roger J. Miner, even though she was not in the top 10 percent of her law class (UCLA ’91). It was widely assumed that she got the position based on her D’Amato connections.

With family connections and rampant cronyism, the public often holds you guilty by association. Unfortunately for her, Gillibrand’s connections have had a messy history of corruption and even criminal charges.

Her father’s former partner at First Grafton Corporation was disgraced former State Senator Joe Bruno. After a long tenure as a senator, Bruno was charged with two felony counts that, as described by the Albany Times Union, involved “enriching himself through consulting deals with people who had an interest in his legislative decision-making.” The government said he failed to disclose material conflicts of interest as required and forced him to pay the state $280,000 in restitution.

After her clerkship, Gillibrand returned to the law firm of David Polk & Wardwell, where she represented big money clients including tobacco conglomerate Philip Morris and was a key player in defending the company against government claims that it hid safety information from consumers.

Gillibrand had begun building her political contacts since day one. Her father had also been close to former Governor Mario Cuomo, so in 1999, when Gillibrand ran into HUD Secretary Andrew Cuomo at a fundraiser, she told him she was interested in public service work. She was hired the next day as special counsel and put in charge of HUD’s New Markets Initiative. But what she was really doing was contributing to the subprime mortgage mess.

As Dick Morris pointed out in a recent New York Post op-ed piece, her job there was “to promote “new products” for the agency — subprime mortgages for people who couldn’t afford them. But once the mortgage meltdown began, she hit the “delete” key again — expunging the item from her resume.” Using her inside knowledge, she even profited from the crisis, as she and her husband shorted firms like Countrywide that specialized in subprime mortgages.

During this period, government sponsored entities like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were busy giving “soft money” to both Democratic and Republican committees. According to a report by the CATO Institute in 1997, Freddie Mac contributed $557,500 to such committees, including $140,000 to the National Republican Senatorial Committee chaired by Banking Committee chairman Alfonse D’Amato and $210,000 to the Democratic National Committee. Fannie Mae contributed $198,150 in total to such committees, with $75,000 going to D’Amato’s Senatorial Committee.”

As a Wall Street Journal op-ed in 2008 pointed out, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac “were central players, if not the central players, in the creation of the housing boom and the credit bust.” They had become “squeezed between the need to meet affordable-housing goals set by HUD and the desire to sustain their growth and profits … [they became] responsible for some $1.6 trillion worth of subprime credit of one form or another.”

Gillibrand’s public service work at HUD didn’t last long, thanks to the coming disaster for the American people, and she rejoined the corporate law world as a $500,000 a year partner at Boies, Schiller & Flexner. Well-known litigator David Boies and his son Chris Boies would later become huge backers of Gillibrand’s political career.

Gillibrand was now hungry to go into politics, especially after becoming chummy with Hilary Clinton and working with the fund-raising group, Women For Hillary, in the late ‘90s. Under Clinton tutelage, Gillibrand transferred her job to Albany and took residence in nearby Hudson, a Republican stronghold that some believed was susceptible to a moderate newcomer. But this also leads us back to her father’s old girlfriend, Zenia. Gillibrand won her seat [after being down 19 points] when a state police domestic violence report about the GOP incumbent, John Sweeney, was mysteriously leaked, ostensibly with the acquiescence of the Pataki administration,” according to the Village Voice (1/22/09). Once again, Big Daddy Al’s little girl once used her connections, not her skills, to seize power.

Sounding more and more in public like a Valley Girl mall rat, Gillibrand began showing her habit of picking and choosing which parts of her past should be public knowledge. Riding the coattails of supporter Hilary Clinton, who provided her with invaluable donor lists, as well as her connections through the D’Amato machine, Gillibrand had become quite the fundrasier and could now draw staunch support from the Democratic establishment.

Her old bosses David and Chris Boies gave $75,000 to Governor David Paterson, the blind man who would eventually appoint Gillibrand as Senator, with $50,000 coming exactly one month before the appointment.
The night of her acceptance speech, when she celebrated her new job as appointed U.S. Senator was telling: Her old pal, D’Amato came and stood by her side onstage to bask in the glory of his former intern. An investigative review of campaign finance committees by the Village Voice found that D’Amato was actually Paterson’s “largest single fundraiser,” though the most powerful politician in New York denied having any influence over Gillibrand’s startlingly fast rise to the U.S. Senate.

When she finally ascended and was handed the role of Senator by Paterson, she displayed her true colors again. As New York Magazine noted in a 2009 profile, “her first 100 days were marred by policy flip-flips, threats from political rivals, and images of her as a fighter for Big Tobacco who happened to keep two guns under her bed.” For example, one of her flip-flops came in 2007, when she co-sponsored legislation requiring the government to delete information from handgun background checks after 24 hours. Right after she became Senator, she voted to repeal that very same legislation.

The New York Times ran a piece pointing out her hypocrisy as a self-described “public interest lawyer” for clients like Philip Morris, when her primary job was to hide documents from the public that could have saved lives. She took to the role with full knowledge of her actions and never once opted to leave the client, even though she could have, the article reported.

But flip-flopping on issues like gun control or Big Tobacco were only drops in the bucket. As a U.S. Senator, Gillibrand really had the power to really help old friends and allies such as D’Amato, a world-class lobbyist at Park Strategies, a multi-million dollar Washington and Albany lobbying business.

You can see how this all works: You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.

It’s basically an old-boy network, now with a few gals included, more interested in generating wealth for the wealthy than representing the needs of the people of New York state. With Americans facing such an uncertain economic future, it’s a machine that needs to be broken down and replaced with sound leadership.

– by America Outraged PAC

Blakeman’s Actions And Reputation Hinder Suitability As Candidate In U.S. Senate Race

America Outraged Pac urges Republicans to nominate high Integrity Candidate

Published on June 02, 2010

by Official Wire

(OfficialWire)

WASHINGTON, DC

New York Republicans are gathering at the Sheraton in Manhattan to air their differences and present a slate of electable candidates for statewide offices. Republican leaders, pollsters, and political commentators believe they have an excellent chance for gaining a majority in the Senate if they can unseat Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, appointed to the position by the embattled New York Gov. David Paterson.

The candidate that can beat Gillibrand should have a proven record of legislative accomplishment and experience with the economy, but also come from outside the establishment and not owe favors to power brokers. A key issue is ethics, especially in the scandal-ridden New York political scene.

America Outraged PAC, a political action committee formed to promote accountability and responsibility in government, has uncovered information that should raise major questions about the suitability of one of the Senate candidates, Bruce Blakeman.

Formerly a Nassau County legislator and head of the Budget Review Committee, Blakeman overspent on projects and ran a hefty deficit. Not only is his record devoid of any accomplishments, his past connections with shady New York businessmen include his own father-in-law, Mike Shevell, who has been tied to the Genovese crime family. Additional information is being uncovered that relates to his position as Commissioner on the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

In a 2007 Village Voice story, writer Tom Robbins relates a “seamy tale of nepotism on the Brooklyn waterfront,” in which an influence peddler secures a meeting with Commissioner Bruce Blakeman for a political favor.

Earlier, Blakeman, also from his perch as Commissioner, wrote a letter to federal court urging leniency for Charles Kushner, a real estate mogul and political donor who “pleaded guilty to 18 felonies, including filing false tax returns and campaign finance reports, and retaliating against his brother-in-law, who was cooperating with federal authorities in an investigation against him. Mr. Kushner hired a prostitute to seduce the brother-in-law, then sent a secretly recorded videotape of the encounter to the man’s wife, Mr. Kushner’s sister” (Robert Hanley, New York Times, January 13, 2005). Prosecutors, who included now-Governor of New Jersey Chris Christie, claimed that Charles Kushner “failed to accept full responsibility for his outrageous criminal conduct.” Blakeman bowed to pressure to assist Kushner and wrote that Kushner was full of remorse and deserved a lenient sentence.

Despite Blakeman’s letter, the sentencing judge agreed with Christie and gave Kushner the maximum two-year sentence.

According to American Outraged PAC, Blakeman’s repeated associations with criminals and influence-peddling disqualify him as a viable candidate. “When is the Republican Party going to stop contributing to scandals and unethical politics by eliminating candidates who, at best, are of questionable character and exchanging influence for favors, and at worst may be ‘on the take,” said Lynn Yowell, co-founder of America Outraged PAC.

About America Outraged PAC

The mission of America Outraged PAC is to achieve accountability and responsibility in government, by communicating the voices of U.S. citizens who:

-Demand accountability of those holding elected office, those appointed by elected officials, and those professing to be unbiased reporters of news and facts
-Demand that lawmakers read and understand the legislation they vote on
-Urgently require a limit on spending
-Oppose Congressional perks while the nation endures a severe recession
-Oppose bureaucrats making life-and-death decisions about individual citizens’ health.

Contact
America Outraged PAC
L. Yowell
outragedpeople@gmail.com
Tel: 18042050895

Sleeping With The Enemy? Loyalty Questions Plague U.S. Senate Race In NY

Ex-Senator D’Amato under fire for tilting election to Gillibrand at Republicans’ expense

Published on May 27, 2010

by Official Wire

(OfficialWire)

WASHINGTON, DC

While the media continues to call the New York Senate race a done deal in favor of Democratic incumbent Kirsten Gillibrand, shady subplots involving her rise to prominence remain unexamined. America Outraged Political Action Committee has been seeking to expose what it calls “an egregious case of political cronyism” involving former Republican senator and political power broker Al D’Amato and Gillibrand, the daughter of a prominent lobbyist.

Among the connections:

Gillibrand’s father, Doug Rutnik, a contributor mostly to the Democratic Party, “is an Albany insider and lobbyist whose ties to former GOP powerhouses Joe Bruno, George Pataki and Al D’Amato are legendary.” –Village Voice (1/22/09)
“Gillibrand won her seat [after being down 19 points] when a state police domestic violence report about the GOP incumbent, John Sweeney, was mysteriously leaked, ostensibly with the acquiescence of the Pataki administration.”—Village Voice (1/22/09)
Rutnik is also one-time boyfriend of Pataki Chief of Staff Zenia Mucha; Pataki has chosen not to run against Gillibrand even though polls showed he had the best chance.
Gillibrand worked for both D’Amato and Cuomo, who never conducted an investigation when he was attorney general of the Sweeney leak.
D’Amato was front and center on the same platform with Gillibrand the night she was appointed senator.
D’Amato, who controls many country chairs that have fallen in line to support Gillibrand, has also given his own personal support to weak Republican candidate Bruce Blakeman, which could easily be viewed as gift-wrapping the election for Gillibrand.
Lynn Yowell, co-founder or America Outraged PAC, says the group recently launched “1,000+ People to STOP the D’Amato Machine!” (http://www.facebook.com/stopdamato) that seeks to find over a thousand people to “like” the page and voice their disapproval of political power broker and former U.S. Senator Al D’Amato. America Outraged has also started an educational “Stop D’Amato” blog that can be accessed at http://StopDamato.wordpress.com.

About America Outraged PAC

The mission of America Outraged PAC is to achieve accountability and responsibility in government, by communicating the voices of U.S. citizens who:

Demand accountability of those holding elected office, those appointed by elected officials, and those professing to be unbiased reporters of news and facts
Demand that lawmakers read and understand the legislation they vote on
Urgently require a limit on spending
Oppose Congressional perks while the nation endures a severe recession
Oppose bureaucrats making life-and-death decisions about individual citizens’ health.

Media misses key ethical questions in U.S. Senate race in NY

Lack of insightful media coverage of political dirty tricks leads to “Stop D’Amato” Facebook campaign

Washington, DC.- May 27, 2010—You’ve seen Facebook sites that try to find a million fans of something. Now, thanks to inadequate media coverage in New York, a Facebook fan site is being used to educate the voting public. Created by America Outraged Political Action Committee, the recently launched “1,000+ People to STOP the D’Amato Machine!” (http://www.facebook.com/stopdamato) seeks to find over a thousand people by May 28 to “like” the page and voice their disapproval of political power broker and former U.S. Senator Al D’Amato.

The site argues D’Amato is engaging in cronyism for future political kickbacks and wielding “quid-pro-quo” influence over a U.S. Senate race in New York by having supported both Democratic incumbent Kirsten Gillibrand as well one of her weakest Republican opponents, Bruce Blakeman.

“Ever since he lost his U.S. Senate seat to Chuck Schumer, Al D’Amato has used the tactics he developed in Congress to ‘mentor’ younger politicians, exercise his political clout for favors, to usurp the law, and leave taxpayers with the bill as he lined his pockets,” the page reads. “He has received as much as $500,000 for a single telephone call.”

Lynn Yowell, co-founder or America Outraged PAC, said the Facebook page was part of an ongoing effort aimed at informing the public about how D’Amato uses unsavory tactics in the nominating and endorsement process to control who gets the nomination. “We’re tired of unelected influence-peddlers with far too much influence over the political process, the legislative process, and the taxing and spending habits of local New York legislatures,” Yowell said.

The Facebook page also features a fan-created YouTube video of D’Amato set to the James Brown song, “The Boss,” showing various clips of D’Amato expressing his love for the “combat” of poker juxtaposed with video of him supporting different candidates and cursing on the Howard Stern show.

America Outraged PAC has also started an educational “Stop D’Amato” blog that can be accessed at http://StopDamato.wordpress.com.

About America Outraged PAC

The mission of America Outraged PAC is to achieve accountability and responsibility in government, by communicating the voices of U.S. citizens who:

· Demand accountability of those holding elected office, those appointed by elected officials, and those professing to be unbiased reporters of news and facts
· Demand that lawmakers read and understand the legislation they vote on
· Urgently require a limit on spending
· Oppose Congressional perks while the nation endures a severe recession
· Oppose bureaucrats making life-and-death decisions about individual citizens’ health.

###

Campaign For Accountability Highlights Ex-senator Al D’amato

PAC Project Dedicated to Exposing Tricks and Political Machines in Elections

Washington, DC.- May 27, 2010 What does an out-of-control state or federal deficit have to do with campaign tricks and political machines? According to America Outraged Political Action Committee (PAC), plenty. Political trickery or “machines,” methods that prevent a popular candidate from achieving nomination or election, are used specifically for the purpose of usurping the process that ensures the voters’ interests are legitimately represented. When this occurs, the small segment of supporters expect a return for their campaign “investment” such as salary or pension hikes. The voters who were not legitimately represented are then disadvantaged still more, because they are left with the bill.

America Outraged PAC wants to stop this form of “taxation without representation” and is initiating a series of blog projects aimed at exposing the unsavory practices of political “power brokers.” Lynn Yowell, a co-founder or America Outraged PAC, announced today that the organization’s first project is “Stop D’Amato,” an effort aimed at informing the public about how the ex-Senator from New York, Alfonse D’Amato, uses various tactics in the nominating and endorsement process to control who gets the nomination. “The voters in New York State have been dissatisfied with elected officials—from the high spending to the frequent scandals,” Yowell said. “It all starts with the candidates. While we can’t ensure a high-quality slate of candidates, we can provide transparency and dissemination of critical information and evidence.”

Yowell went on to say that D’Amato is the “poster child” of back room dealers. “It’s obvious that promises had to have been made to a number of donors, she said, “and the chits start being collected in the form of pay and pension hikes. We see this with the teachers’ unions, for example.” Pensions, like Medicare and Social Security at the federal level, can balloon rapidly, well beyond affordability for a state.

America Outraged PAC has developed a blog site that contains information about D’Amato’s past practices and relationships relevant to the current statewide elections in New York. Web visitors can view a social network chart of D’Amato’s relationships, such as his association with Kirsten Gillibrand, the Democrat candidate and current office-holder whom he recommended to New York Gov. David Paterson to replace Hillary Clinton. D’Amato surprised Republicans when he endorsed and threw support to former Nassau County Legislature presiding officer Bruce Blakeman, a local politician without any significant experience or accomplishments. Political observers have commented that D’Amato’s backing of Blakeman has been, in reality, a way to ensure that his protégé Gillibrand wins the Senate seat to which she was appointed.

The “Stop D’Amato” blog can be accessed at http://StopDamato.wordpress.com/.

About America Outraged PAC

The mission of America Outraged PAC is to achieve accountability and responsibility in government, by communicating the voices of U.S. citizens who:

• Demand accountability of those holding elected office, those appointed by elected officials, and those professing to be unbiased reporters of news and facts
• Demand that lawmakers read and understand the legislation they vote on
• Urgently require a limit on spending
• Oppose Congressional perks while the nation endures a severe recession • Oppose bureaucrats making life-and-death decisions about individual citizens’ health.

###

Al D’Amato: Retire from Politics NOW

Check out these links and videos:

Stop Al D’Amato from Stealing (“Just Say No”). video Bruce Blakeman, D’Amato’s most prominent backer for the 2010 U.S. Senate race, says D’Amato is “the most hard-working senator New York has ever seen.” He’s hard at work, alright!

Alfonse D’Amato, Poker Players Alliance chairman. video D’Amato rationalizes the need for legalizing online (“The country needs revenue.”) poker. “Keep honest things honest.”

D’Amato Role in Airport Deal is Investigated. article D’Amato succeeds in reversing a $6 – $8 million dollar award from the Port Authority and re-directing it to one of his clients.  2010 Senate candidate Bruce Blakeman was one of the Commissioners D’Amato called.

Kirsten Gillibrand spent summers as an intern for Al D’Amato. article. The New York Times presents a flowery and flattering article on the latest Senator from New York.

Gillibrand’s Dirty Tricks. Will AG Investigate? article D’Amato played a key role in Gillibrand’s ascension of power. You may want to wash your hands after reading this one.


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