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Archive of Payback

11/ 2/06

2:00 PM


Is Betsy the New Al?

Betsy Gotbaum advocates publicly.Photograph by Patrick McMullan

Can we now expect a parade of pols coming out post-Hevesi to reimburse the state or city for every time they sent an aide out to get them a latte? Walk through Albany or pass through City Hall and listen for the sounds of elected officials rifling for receipts in dusty desk drawers.

Public advocate Betsy Gotbaum is the latest officeholder to utter the phrase, "Jeeves, what exactly did I pay you for that bird-watching excursion we took last spring?" Gotbaum (who astonishingly looks like all the Osbournes rolled into one person) wrote the city a $1,900 check three days ago to pay a driver for trips outside of Manhattan between 2002 and 2005.

1,900 big ones. Ouch. We're getting dangerously close to Ethics Commission inquiries for any assistant county clerk who left the office lights on over the weekend.

O'Dumb'eter: Betsy's Car $$ [NYP]


4:50 PM


Media Spreads Money Liberally, Conservatively

Objectivity? Who needs it? Well-known members of the media establishment aren't ashamed of throwing money (as well as column inches) at their favorite politicos. And you can forget about that notion of liberal bias — Republican candidates and right-leaning PACs have also benefited from media bucks this year. (Blue-state pariah Rick Santorum even received a contribution from Ardath Rodale! Of course, the Rodale CEO gave even more money to Santorum's opponent, but still …) Here's a list of select media members who've been lending their election-year support:

William F. Buckley, editor-at-large, National Review
Christopher Shays: $1,500
The longtime GOP incumbent is tied at 43 percent with Democratic challenger Diane Farrell.
Club for Growth PAC: $2,000
The conservative PAC supports candidates in favor of repealing the estate tax and making tax cuts permanent.

Steve Forbes, CEO, Forbes Inc.
Rob Simmons: $1,000
The Republican incumbent from Connecticut's Second District is in a tight race with Joseph Courtney.

Merri Hannity, wife of conservative radio and TV host Sean Hannity
Jeanine Pirro: $20,000
In 2005, Sean Hannity urged his viewers to contribute to Pirro during her short-lived Senate race against Hillary Clinton.

William Kristol, founder, Weekly Standard
George Allen: $250
The Republican Virginia senator is slightly ahead of Democrat Jim Webb in the polls.

Judith Regan, president, Regan Media
Hillary Clinton: $1,000

Jann Wenner, founder, Wenner Media
Bob Casey: $2,500
In one of the most-watched Senate races in the country, Democrat Casey is trying to unseat Republican Rick Santorum after one term.
Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee: $25,000

Dick Ebersol, chairman, NBC Sports
General Electric Company PAC: $2,000

Lorne Michaels, creator, Saturday Night Live
Midwest Values PAC: $2,000
Al Franken's PAC is closing in on $1 million raised this year.

Jeffrey Zucker, CEO, NBC Universal Television
General Electric Company PAC: $5,000

Ardath Rodale, chairman of the board, Rodale Inc.
Bob Casey: $2,300
Rick Santorum: $1,000

David Zinczenko, editor-in-chief, Men's Journal
Lois Murphy: $1,000
Murphy is a Democrat running against an incumbent Republican in Pennsylvania's Sixth District.
Jon Kyl: $1,000
The two-term Republican senator from Arizona has a small lead against Democrat Jim Pederson.

Jon Steinberg


3:30 PM


What Has Two Thumbs and Likes Snow Jobs?

Nothing brings joy (and votes) to a snowed-in town like federal relief.Courtesy

Did someone say political payback in Buffalo? President Bush has declared Western New York a federal disaster area following the storms that punished the region on October 12 and 13.

The cost of relief needed for home and business owners is estimated at $95 million and will be handled by FEMA. In this post-Katrina world, FEMA took only two weeks to respond to the storm. But if you're assuming incompetence explains the tardy arrival of the much-needed assistance, well, you're not nearly as conspiracy-minded as you should be.

Buffalo Pundit sees evil where all others can only see stupidity. Republican incumbent and troubled friend of Foley Tom Reynolds promised the relief as early as last Sunday, but nothing arrived until yesterday — the same day Reynolds testified before the House Ethics Committee regarding his involvement in the Foley scandal.

Though the National Republican Congressional Committee (which Reynolds chairs) recently left the embattled incumbent off its campaign-relief list, $95 million in free advertising ought to compensate.

WNY Gets Disaster Designation [Buffalo News]

Fortuitous Timing, No? [Buffalo Pundit]

NRCC Seeks Cash Infusion [Capitol Confidential]


5:20 PM


Dems and the City

Edward Norton loves hot, liberal actionPhotograph by Patrick McMullan

Like you, Sex and the City co-star Cynthia Nixon and Liberalism in Hollywood co-star Edward Norton are Americans with American worries. Unlike you, however, they're also Americans that people will pay to be in the same room with. This may have applied to you on occasion — a wedding or a bar mitzvah, for instance — but for them it's pretty much the case anytime they need it to be. Like right now, in this crucial time before Election Day.

Norton, who brownnosedly interviewed Eliot Spitzer in the October issue of Interview, will continue to assist the financially lagging gubernatorial candidate with a fund-raiser this very evening. Nixon is stumping tomorrow for the Working Families Party and reminding us that "sexually explicit emails alone are never enough to take back Congress. We need to move beyond scandal and support innovative strategies that will help Democrats win." Always in character. That's fun.

At Nixon's side will be Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, State Senator Eric Schneiderman, barely incumbent State Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal, and City Councilwoman Gale Brewer.

Attendees can give at various levels of support, including "Miranda" ($1,000); "Carrie" ($500); "Mr. Big" ($250); "Steve the bartender" ($100); or if you're strapped for cash, "Miranda's husband Steve's mom who went nuts and ate pizza from a trash can" ($50).

Edward Norton, Eliot Spitzer, and David Paterson [Spitzer-Paterson 2006]

Take Back Congress reception with Cynthia Nixon [Working Families Party]


5:05 PM


Reynolds Recruiting Down at Docks

Tom Reynolds's sinking ship has a high-profile jumper. John McCain abandoned an October 20 Reynolds rally (and black-tie Erie County GOP dinner) and will be replaced by — cue scary Halloween music — Karl Rove. Boo!

Beloved war hero and leading candidate for president in 2008 out (Graham Greene's The Quiet American with a sweet 7 a.m. tee-time smile), Machiavellian schemer and character assassin in.

Of course, the widening maelstrom of the Foley-Reynolds scandal may soon force Rove to follow McCain's lead and slink over the side as well, begging the question: Is there anyone left on USS Reynolds who'll hoist high the slop bucket and keep bailing? George Pataki will pretty much play any room not occupied by Jeanine Pirro. "Miracle" Mike Bloomberg likes a challenge. You could go for seasonal shock value: a Michael Brown–Tom Delay double bill? The scheduling won't be an issue. How about Bill Weld? Or KT McFarland! Fortunately, upstate Republicans aren't all that choosy.

McCain Bails Out as Local Speaker; Rove to Pinch Hit [Buffalo News]

10/ 6/06

3:40 PM


Moguls Give It Up For Their Favorite Pols

Business moguls may be of one mind when it comes to chasing money, power, and trophy spouses, but they are varied in their political passions. Some billionaires — Ronald Perelman, George Steinbrenner, Donald Trump — steer their yachts in local waters. Others — Rupert Murdoch, Leonard Lauder, Stephen Schwartzman — try to influence distant races, channeling support toward candidates whose success is deemed vital to the health of their parties and, presumably, to said moguls' bottom lines. Here's a look at where local captains of commerce have been tossing their bucks.

Leonard Blavatnik, chairman, Access Industries
Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee: $26,700
HillPac: $5,000
As of late August, Hillary Clinton's PAC had raised $2.3 million this election cycle.

Michael Bloomberg, mayor, City of New York; founder, Bloomberg LP
John Sweeney for Congress: $4,200
Sweeney, a Republican incumbent who represents the upstate Twentieth District, is leading in the polls against challenger Kirsten Gillibrand.

Edgar Bronfman Sr., former CEO, Seagram Co. Ltd.
Edgar Bronfman Jr., chairman and CEO, Warner Music Group
Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee: $15,000
Harold Ford Jr. for Tennessee: $1,000
Ford, a Democrat, is running against GOP incumbent and Senate majority leader Bill Frist. If he wins, Ford will become the South's first black senator since Reconstruction.

Barry Diller, chairman and CEO, InterActiveCorp
InterActive Corp Political Action Committee (a.k.a. IACPAC): $1,656
Diller's right-leaning PAC has raised $92,000 since the end of August.

Charles Dolan, founder and chairman, Cablevision Systems Corp.
Ned Lamont for Senate: $2,100
Lamont, an antiwar Democrat, upset longtime incumbent Joe Lieberman in the Connecticut primary. Lieberman is now running as an independent against Lamont and Republican Alan Schlesinger.
Mike DeWine for U.S. Senate: $2,100
DeWine, an incumbent Republican from Ohio, is in a tight contest against Democratic representative Sherrod Brown.

David Geffen, CEO, Dreamworks SKG
John Hall for Congress: $2,100
Hall, a musician and environmental activist, is trying to unseat four-term GOP incumbent Sue Kelly.
Harold Ford Jr.: $2,100

Carl C. Icahn, founder, Icahn Partners
Shelley Berkley for Congress: $3,000
Berkley, a Nevada Democrat, is running for her fifth term in the House.
Solutions America PAC: $5,000
Rudy Giuliani's Republican PAC had raised $2.3 million as of the end of August.

Evelyn and Leonard Lauder, executives, Estée Lauder Companies
Joe Lieberman for Senate: $5,300
Spitzer-Paterson 2006: $20,000

Rupert Murdoch, chairman, News Corp.
National Republican Senatorial Committee: $7,500
Friends of Hillary: $4,200

Ronald Perelman, chairman, MacAndrews & Forbes Holdings Inc.
Chris Chocola for Congress: $4,200
Republican incumbent Chocola is trying to save his House seat in Connecticut.
National Republican Congressional Committee: $15,000

Stephen Schwarzman, chairman, CEO, and co-founder, the Blackstone Group
Volunteer PAC: $5,000
Republican senator Bill Frist chairs this PAC, which recruits and supports Republican candidates.
Friends of Patrick J. Kennedy Inc.: $4,200
The Democratic congressman is trying to hold on to his seat following a visit to rehab in May.

George Steinbrenner, owner, New York Yankees
Phyllis Busansky for Congress: $1,000
Democrat Busansky is looking to fill the congressional seat of retiring Republican Michael Bilirakis. She is running against Bilirakis's son Gus.
Spitzer-Paterson 2006: $15,000

The Tisch Family (Joan, son Jonathan, and nephew Andrew), executives, Loews Corp.
Friends of Joe Lieberman: $7,600
Harold Ford Jr. for Tennessee: $6,300

Donald Trump, chairman, the Trump Organization
Jeanine Pirro for Attorney General: $20,000
Andrew Cuomo for Attorney General: $10,000

Find out who your favorite mogul donated to at the Federal Election Commission.

Jon Steinberg


7:15 PM


Campaigning With the Stars

When Bill Clinton ran for president in the nineties, Hollywood rallied around him. His campaign coffers spilled over with money from A-list actors and studio honchos. His wife has similar star magnetism — Hillary's Senate campaign features checkbook cameos from Harvey Weinstein, Billy Crystal, Kim Cattrall, and Chris Rock.

But this year, New York –based movie stars aren't just jumping on Hill and Bill's bandwagon. The pet causes (and pet PACs) of the day include Barack Obama's Hopefund, Bob Casey's run to replace Rick Santorum in the Senate, and that kwiki mart of blue-state campaign financing: the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

Here's where various boldfaced New Yorkers are placing some of their political bucks*:

Alec Baldwin
Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee: $2,500
Tim Bishop for Congress (D-Suffolk County): $1,000

Ron Howard
Ciro D. Rodriguez for U.S. Congress: $500
Rodriguez, a Democrat, served in Congress from 1997 to 2002 but lost his seat to redistricting. He is running again following a Supreme Court ruling to redraw the district lines.
Political Action Committee of the Directors Guild of America: $1,200

Nora Ephron
Al Franken's Midwest Values PAC: $5,000

Marlo Thomas
Claire McCaskill for U.S. Senate: $2,100
McCaskill is the Missouri state auditor looking to unseat incumbent Republican Jim Talent in one of this year's closest contests.

Bob Weinstein
Rahm Emanuel's Our Common Values PAC: $5,000
Emanuel, a Democratic congressman from Illinois, also chairs the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
Midwest Values PAC: $5,000

Harvey Weinstein
Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee: $26,700

Chevy Chase
Democratic National Committee: $25,000

Tim Robbins
John Hall for Congress: $2,500

Susan Sarandon
Bernie Sanders for Senate: $2,400
Sanders, an independent congressman from Vermont, is looking to fill the seat of retiring independent senator Jim Jeffords.

Rosie O'Donnell
Bob Casey for U.S. Senate: $2,100
Casey, a Democrat, wants to unseat Republican incumbent Rick Santorum.
Jeanine Pirro for New York Attorney General: $1,000

Kelsey Grammer
Rudy Giuliani's Solutions America PAC: $5,000

Jeffrey Wright
Barack Obama's Hopefund PAC: $2,500

*How much did your favorite celeb donate? Search the Federal Election Commission's Disclosure Database.

Jon Steinberg