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11/ 1/06

11:46 AM


Sweeney Dodges Accusations of Wife Sparring

Rep. John Sweeney

A week ago, we dissected an ad featuring GOP representative John Sweeney and his wife and his fight to retain the Twentieth District. The Sweeneys didn't seem like they were connecting, at least not rising to the challenge of the ad's theme — that the couple had been besieged by attacks and harassment from scurrilous opponent Kirsten Gillibrand "and her liberal allies," who had "intimidated my wife and smeared my children with anonymous phone calls, negative fliers, and lies."

We hoped their odd disengagement was just an example of a natural fact of politics: When unpracticed small-time politicians attempt the heart-yanking gimmickry their big-stage counterparts wield so smoothly, they often look pretty silly. Not everyone can be Bill Clinton or Ronald Reagan. John Sweeney is certainly more the assistant-sales-manager type than the grandiose image manipulator. But in a sense, this makes him more human and, in turn, more sympathetic.

But our sympathy well has run dry. Sadly, it wasn't just bad acting that gave the Sweeneys that look of gauzy disaffection. Apparently, Sweeney's winning frat-guy aura isn't just a piece in his semiotic CV; it's who he is right down to the steak-brained core. The Albany Times Union is reporting that last December Gaia M. Sweeney called 911 to report her husband was "knocking her around" during an argument.

The story includes the police dispatcher's report:

"Female caller stating her husband is knocking her around the house. Then she stated 'Here it comes, are you ready?' and disconnected the call. Upon call-back, the husband stated no problem … asked the wife if she wanted to talk. Wife (caller) then got on the phone and stated that she's fine and that she's drunk. Caller sounded intoxicated. She advised that she was endangered for a moment, but everything is fine.''

The trooper at the scene wrote, "Complainant stated that she and husband got into verbal argument that turned a little physical by her being grabbed by the neck and pushed around the house. Suspect [Sweeney] had scratches on face. Both parties refused medical attention. Complainant removed to friend's house for the evening … refused any type of prosicution (sic) arrest.''

The Sweeney campaign calls the release of the report "political propaganda." Kirsten Gillibrand didn't comment because she was out trick-or-treating.

Congressman's Wife Called Police [Albany Times Union]