Thursday, September 21, 2006

Sweeney Dirty: Is It a Twofer?

Yesterday Congressman Blutarsky, a/k/a John Sweeney, Republican who currently represents the NY-20 district, was named one of the most corrupt membrs of Congress by CREW, the Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington.

On the same day, the Albany Times-Union, the largest newspaper in the district, announced that it had discovered and banned a "sock puppet" from its politics blog, Capitol Confidential. A sock puppet in modern usage is one internet user who posts under separate identities as though more than one person is speaking. This sock puppet went so far as to compliment a posting by its alter ego. Wanna bet it was someone supporting John Sweeney? I'll make that bet. Links below.

CREW: The 20 Most Corrupt Members of Congress

Rep. John Sweeney (R-NY)

John Sweeney is a fourth-term Congressman representing the 20th district of New York. His ethics issues stem from a ski trip to New York, the exchange of legislative assistance for campaign contributions and the hiring of his wife as a campaign fundraiser.

Misuse of public funds to pay for a trip to New York

Rep. Sweeney invited 53 people to join him from January 6-9, 2006, for a “Congressional Winter Challenge” at the Lake Placid Olympic facilities. There, Rep. Sweeney and his guests enjoyed pretending to be Olympic athletes by participating in events including skiing, bobsledding and hockey, all paid for with New York taxpayer dollars. The trip appears to violate several provisions of the House gift and travel rules, including the prohibition on recreational travel.

Relationship with National Marine Manufacturers Association

In May 2006, Rep. Sweeney introduced the Boating Safety Tax Incentive Act, legislation that the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) strongly supported and even helped draft, allowing boat manufacturers to supply new boats with free safety equipment, including up-to-date lifejackets, in exchange for a tax deduction. In apparent exchange, NMMA’s PAC has supported Rep. Sweeney and contributed to his campaign committee for the past three years. In the 2006 election cycle alone, NMMA donated $4,500 to Rep. Sweeney, making him the third highest recipient of contributions from NMMA’s PAC. Additionally, NMMA has hosted fundraisers for Rep. Sweeney on its luxurious yacht, raising a total of $12,150. If Rep. Sweeney received campaign donations in return for campaign contributions he may have violated federal bribery and honest services fraud as well as violated House rules.

Employment of Spouse Gayle Ford

Rep. Sweeney has hired his wife’s firm to fundraise for his campaign, despite the fact that she has no fundraising experience and appears to have no other clients. She receives a 10% commission on the money she brings in, the campaign paid her $42,570 during the 2004-2005 election cycle, and as of April 2006, she received $30,879 for the current election cycle. Notably, records show that Rep. Sweeney has had a fundraising consultant on monthly retainer since June of 2004, who is paid $8,583 a month. The facts suggest that Rep. Sweeney is converting campaign funds to personal use in violation of the Federal Election Campaign Act and House rules.

Son Avoids Jail

Rep. Sweeney’s son, John, brutally beat another teenager, but avoided jail for his offense. The ethics committee should investigate whether the young man received special treatment because of his father’s position in violation of House rules.

The Nation: Congress's Most Corrupt

Highlights include .... New York Rep. John Sweeney (news, bio, voting record), who a few months back showed up drunk to a local frat party, threw a taxpayer funded Winter sporting weekend and hired his wife as a fundraiser even though she had no previous fundraising experience;

Times Union 'Capitol Confidential' Blog: Sock Puppets and Ethics

If you haven’t read our “rules of engagement” in a while, we’ve added a new policy:

The use of multiple identities (aka “sock puppets”) on this blog is not permitted.

We’ve also included a link to a Wikipedia item that offers a fuller explanation of these aliases.

This policy was sparked by the admitted use of multiple identities by a visitor to this blog. We discovered this rather by accident, and at a time when he happened to post a comment referring to his other identity - somewhat glowingly, no less - as if it was a different person.

That’s clearly deceptive and unethical.


Editor’s Note: The individual has been blocked from the site (to the best of our ability).

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