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.

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.