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.

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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.

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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.

Fed up with cronyism, “pay for play,” and dirty tricks?

It’s time to stop the madness, and let competent, honest people represent New York throughout the state and in the U.S. Congress.

So who is D’Amato really FOR in the U.S. Senate race?

D’Amato has supposedly endorsed Bruce Blakeman for Senate,  and has lately been selling his soul to get Conservative and Republican endorsements.  Even the most amateur of political observers conclude that good old Al has been desperately seeking the Republican nomination for Blakeman, in order to ensure Gillibrand’s retention of her ill-gotten seat. Two pictures are worth a thousand words; and, remember, they are taken less than 18 months apart.

On the left we have Blakeman’s formal announcement of his candidacy for U.S. Senate. And on the right, we have the Gillibrand announcement.  Anyone who has already endorsed Bruce Blakeman may want to study these photos and re-think their decision.

Under D’Amato’s guidance, Pataki led New York State to the edge of bankruptcy

from  “RINO Fixers Are Part of the GOP’s Problem,” by Deroy Murdock, National Review Online, February 26, 2009 4:00 A.M.

At the state level, governors like New York’s George Pataki and California’s Arnold Schwarzenegger pandered to government-employee unions and opened the spending spigots, to taxpayers’ ongoing horror.

Other culprits include the state-level influence peddlers who seem more interested in cash than in free-market and conservative principles. New York ’s former U.S. senator Alfonse D’Amato is a perfect example of this breed. “Senator Pothole” personally discovered an obscure state senator, George Pataki, from Peekskill, N.Y. After being muscled through the state GOP convention, Pataki scored the party’s nomination and won the governorship in 1994. After some limited first-term tax cutting, Pataki’s spend-o-rama began, swelling the state budget 79.5 percent — from $63.3 billion in 1994 to $113.6 billion in 2006. This was nearly double the inflation rate. D’Amato served as Pataki’s chief cheerleader and arguably has become New York’s most influential Republican — to the degree that party label still fits.

D’Amato most recently raised eyebrows while he stood shoulder to shoulder with prominent New York Democrats as Gov. David Paterson introduced Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand as the Empire State’s new U.S. senator. Gillibrand replaced Hillary Clinton after she departed for the State Department.New York Republicans thought D’Amato looked perfectly at home among the state’s top donkeys.

As Wayne Barrett reported in the January 27 Village Voice, D’Amato hosted a $1,000-per-plate fundraiser for Paterson last November 2. D’Amato’s ambidexterity also led him to host a benefit for GOP senator John McCain last March.

D’Amato’s New York- and Washington-based lobbying firm, Park Strategies, has served him well. He famously earned $500,000 for making just one phone call in 2004 to persuade former Metropolitan Transit Authority chairman E. Virgil Conway to help facilitate a $230 million loan to the company that owns the bus and subway agency’s headquarters building. D’Amato’s client in that transaction, Tamir Sapir, is a partner in a company called Bayrock/Sapir. It, in turn, donated $5,000 to Paterson last September.

So D’Amato is the deal-maker or go-between, among other roles.  He lines up big donations, and then ensures that the elected official delivers.  It is also obvious that he “advises” as part of his fee for fundraising or matchmaking.