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Archive of Scandalabra

11/ 3/06

5:05 PM


Hevesi Adding Much-Needed Cash to Coffers

Attorney General Eliot Spitzer has ordered Alan Hevesi to pay the state another $90,000, bringing the chauffeur-scandal grand total up to $172,000. Just to put this into perspective, from April to June 2006, the state gathered $187 billion in tax revenue.

For $172,000 you can buy a very nice home in Buffalo. For $187 billion, you can dip every structure in Buffalo in solid gold, send every child in the next seven generations to Swarthmore, provide each family in Erie County with a lifetime supply of foie gras, and hire the cast of Friends to perform every episode of every season in the town square, where it now rains diamonds 24 hours a day, 365 days a year (except Christmas, when it rains frankincense).

Hevesi Repays State Additional $90,000 for Use Of Driver [AP]
State Tax Revenue Surges Despite Slowing Economy [Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government]

10:41 AM


Free Gayle Sweeney!

John Sweeney staffs his personal Château d'IfCourtsey John Sweeney for Congress

The eagle eyes at Capitol Confidential have spotted a gap in the wall of defense Representative John Sweeney (R-20) has erected around his domestic-abuse scandal. Apparently, Gayle (or is it Gaia?) Sweeney was wearing the same sweater in an ad that aired yesterday and a press conference held the same morning. No competent Republicans operative would ever leave such a detail amiss, especially this close to an election. The casual observer can only assume that the costuming miscue was the slapdash work of one of Sweeney's local yokel staffers.

We have another theory. Gayle Sweeney is a hostage — kept on a limited diet, rarely allowed to change clothes or even leave her walk-in-closet jail except for press events or fund-raisers where she's posited as the perfect political wife, forced to wave and smile like a child-rearing, cookie-baking seal. (She's not a big talker when it comes to the issues — that's John's business — but don't get her started on that thyroid condition. She'll munch your ear off). Watch the ad again, notice the glassy eyes, the pinched tone, the mechanic fealty psychologists who study Stockholm Syndrome call "capture bonding." You can almost see Sweeney standing outside the shot holding a piece of buttered bread and whispering, "Look at Daddy and say the words."

Why do you think John McCain has been to the Twentieth District to stump for Sweeney? Those aren't campaign appearances, they're secret recon missions. Here's text of the statement John McCain originally wrote on behalf of Sweeney for Congress before party higher-ups got ahold of it.

"John Sweeney is the worst. I hate him. He's an incompetent beef-necked baboon, everything wrong with the party and politics as a whole. I hoped campaign-finance reform would do away with hacks like that, but, ya know, I'm just one guy fighting a hard fight. I was only helicoptering in for these events with John because it's election time and, ya know, 'McCain, always the good solider' blah blah blah. And then I met Gayle and I saw something I hadn't seen for, well, decades. It was that look I used to see on guys' faces back during my POW days, that look of someone whose been subsisting for years on nothing but ants and sandal leather, the inhuman glare of a person who can't distinguish captor from protector. I saw that in Gayle's eyes. I saw a little of a self I thought I'd left behind years ago wading in her shallow pools of disaffection. I knew I needed to help, for her sake and mine."

Of course, the only words that made it through the RNC censors were "John Sweeney" and "protector." It's a sad fact of politics. Once a prisoner, always a prisoner. The jailer may wear a different face and yesterday's bamboo cage may be today's plush corner office on Capitol Hill, but John McCain deserves our admiration nonetheless.

Gayle Goes on the Air [Capitol Confidential]
Sweeney Docu-Drama Production a No-Show [NYDN]
Sweeney Campaign Touts Influence [Albany Times Union]

11/ 1/06

5:10 PM


Al's Allies

If Alan Hevesi goes down, liberal groups are hoping it happens after the election. These endorsements were released today, just as Callaghan campaigned, somewhat ballsily, with his wife in front of Hevesi's office.

NARAL Pro-Choice New York backed Hevesi thusly:

"An historic analysis produced during his first term in office demonstrated that wider access to emergency contraception could save the state almost half a billion dollars in health care costs by decreasing the number of unintended pregnancies and abortions. This study, now cited across the nation, created a groundswell of support for legislation improving access to this pregnancy prevention method."

And the Empire State Pride Agenda, a gay-rights organization, went after Callaghan:

"Christopher Callaghan has attacked Comptroller Hevesi on several occasions for his office's recognition that marriages between same-sex couples performed in Canada must be treated the same as any other marriage when it comes to NYS retirement benefits and obligations."

Callaghan Gets on the Bus [Spin Cycle]

12:47 PM


Everyone's a Passenger in New York Politics

At a Hevesi-related press conference last week,
Pataki calls on his favorite reporter, Kettle.Photograph by Richard Drew/AP

Alan Hevesi's driver travails are pretty standard in state politics, argue Wayne Barrett and Tom Robbins in this week's Village Voice. Just look at the Patakis!

George Pataki's wife, Libby, employed a driver and a personal valet without declaring it on personal financial forms, a violation of ethics rules. The valet in question occasionally drove the couple from the governor's mansion in Albany to their Hudson River home, 100 miles away. The piece also details concerns about the chairman of the New York State Ethics Commission, Paul Shechtman, who has been accused of fixing state parole-board decisions.

So who will keep Hevesi company in the garage of shame? None other than Jeanine Pirro, who is accused in today's Post of paying a county-provided driver $150,000 in overtime over two years. (In addition to his $100,000 annual salary, making the driver one of the highest-paid county employees in Westchester.)

It doesn't really get Hevesi off the hook in any way, and Jeanine Pirro isn't the best person to have your character lumped in with, but misery loves company.

Reading this and thinking of Libby, Al, Carol, and Bill — our own little New York–politics Loud Family — now we know why Mayor Bloomberg isn't married. You assumed he was gay? Nope, just smart.

A Hevesi Heresy [VV]
Pirro's Driver Had 150G Meal Ticket [NYP]

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]


1:35 PM


Once a Comptroller, Always a Comptroller

Comptroller Alan Hevesi may not have much pull with Democratic-party superstars, but what matters more — the condescending head tappings of pampered higher-ups or the respect and support of your colleagues in the 'trolling trenches? Alan Hevesi has been endorsed by a former state comptroller and the current New York City comptroller Bill Thompson. You have to admire anyone who'll bring his ailing friend a metaphorical bowl of soup, and their dismissals of Callaghan are damning, if partisan. But Thompson's endorsement isn't entirely selfless or partisan, as he stands a good chance of being tapped by Eliot Spitzer to replace Hevesi, who will likely resign if elected.

H. Carl McCall, former New York State Comptroller:

"I've been comptroller; I know what the job takes. Chris Callaghan does not have what it takes. I know Comptroller Hevesi can do the job because he has already done the job. And his opponent, Chris Callaghan, is not qualified. There's simply no choice. I'm voting for Alan Hevesi."

William C. Thomson Jr., New York City Comptroller:

"As city comptroller, I understand the importance of the office of state comptroller. Chris Callaghan is simply not up to the job. He's not qualified to manage New York's $140 billion pension fund. Comptroller Hevesi's record as both New York City comptroller and state comptroller is something to be proud of. I am voting for Alan Hevesi."

Talk Turns to Thompson as Hevesi Falters [NYS]


3:55 PM


Tricks and Treats

If all politics are local, the Democrats don't know about it. In an effort to gain the majority in Congress, Democrats have struggled to tie local elections to national issues, such the Iraq war, health care, and, when applicable, the Foley scandal. Republican candidates have tried to highlight their achievements in bringing pork spending back home.

No election has seen this tension like the race for Tom Reynolds's seat in the 26th District. The incumbent Republican's numbers plummeted a month ago when he was implicated in the Foley scandal, and they shot up when the White House tapped him as point man on millions of dollars in federal blizzard relief. The money arrived two weeks after the blizzard itself and just as Reynolds was testifying in the Foley investigation in front of the House Ethics Committee.

Reynolds's relief was all part of Karl Rove's plan to keep control of Congress, or at least abate a Democratic tidal wave, according to a story in Sunday's Los Angeles Times that described Rove's plan to politicize federal spending. Seems the one thing small-government-at-all-costs Republicans believe government is good for is the electing of small-government-at-all-costs Republicans. Gotta admire the consistency.

In other tilting-the-playing-field news, the hearings are over, but findings from the Foley investigation won't be released until December. The Saddam verdict will be handed down … this weekend. Or maybe not till after the election, depending on which court official you hear from.

Expect Osama bin Laden to call the White House any day now with directions to his cave.

GOP At A Loss? Karl Rove Has an 11th-Hour Plan to Win [LAT]
Ethics Report on Foley Not Expected Before Elections [WP]
Saddam Verdict Is Expected on Nov. 5 [AP]
Saddam Verdict May Be Delayed — Prosecutor [Reuters]

12:00 PM


How Was Your Weekend, Al?

Alan Hevesi concentrates on the sucking sound his career makes.Photograph by Keith Bedford/AP

Extreme Hevesization continued throughout the weekend. Last Friday, three new commercials were unveiled starring the scandal-marred state bookkeeper, one tying him to Eliot Spitzer, one tying him to Andrew Cuomo, and one straight-up attack from his foe Chris Callaghan, who now trails him by only twelve points. Hevesi countered with his own ads that ignored the scandal and questioned Callaghan's competence while accusing his energized opponent of planning to raise taxes.

While Hevesi was trying to get up off the mat, his driver scandal deepened and widened. On Saturday, the AP reported that Hevesi had a larger security detail than Attorney General Eliot Spitzer. Seven people on Hevesi's staff are listed as "confidential aides," providing security and transportation for the comptroller and others in his office. Hevesi has both a driver and a bodyguard at any given time. (The Post estimates the salary of Hevesi's driver detail to be nearly half a million dollars). Taxpayers have also been footing the bill for one of Hevesi's aides to chase around a girl who would never date him. Jack Chartier, Hevesi's chief of staff, used a state car to chauffeur actress Peggy Lipton — co-star of sixties TV series "The Mod Squad," — on shopping excursions, salon trips, and chemotherapy appointments. He also helped Lipton move but denied state employees were involved.

But the most damning (and probably flimsiest) Hevesi story to surface is "Page Six"'s revelation that Hevesi may have a relationship with Queens City Councilwoman Melinda Katz, a longtime political protégé. Hevesi, who employed a driver to transport his ailing wife, denies the allegation.

Amid all this, Democrats have had to figure out ways to distance themselves from Hevesi without hurting the ticket as a whole. Hevesi has been uninvited to the Democrat Election Day party. Hillary Clinton broke her silence over the weekend and said Hevesi "did something very wrong, and there is a process in place to deal with that." Andrew Cuomo was harsher, issuing a statement saying Hevesi had "gravely compromised his ability to do his job." Eliot Spitzer, who un-endorsed Hevesi last week, has been tactically quiet, complimenting Governor Pataki's "wise" decision to ask former Martha Stewart sleuth David Kelley to investigate the matter.

With Election Day a week away, there's no chance Hevesi will be removed from the ballot. But this morning, the Post reported that Hevesi will quit rather than let George Pataki pick his successor. If Hevesi is removed by the state senate, the governor picks a new (presumably Republican) comptroller. But if he resigns, the choice falls to the Democrat-dominated Assembly.

Related, a source close to Hevesi claims he forgot to turn his clock back an hour Saturday night and was inadvertently subjected to Tim Russert, when all he wanted was The McLaughlin Group.

Hevesi Attack Ads: "Who's Chris Callaghan?" [Spin Cycle]
Capitalizing Callaghan Shifts Into Overdrive [Newsday]
Hevesi's Security Detail Twice As Large As Spitzer's [AP]
Alan Overdrive [NYP]
Aide's 'Squad' Car Ride [NYDN]
Hevesi Smooches Up Pol Pal [NYP]
Thanks to Hevesi, Democrats Face Political Tightrope [NYS]
Pataki Picks Ex-Prosecutor to Weigh In on Hevesi Case [NYT]
Hevesi: I'd Quit Over Ax [NYP]


1:21 PM


A Rash of Hevesization

Taking a cue from John Faso, Jeanine Pirro is quick to make her own ad suggesting that Andrew Cuomo and Alan Hevesi are paddling the same tainted canoe.

The slime trickles down. By the end of today, we'll have ads tying Hevesi to the dogcatcher's race in Munnsville.

11:10 AM


Early and Often Endorses the ‘Daily News’

"We support Christopher Callaghan for New York comptroller," says the Times today.

In August, if there was one candidate for any state office who seemed least likely to be endorsed by the Times, it was Callaghan. GOP Senate hopeful John Spencer's "War for All Forever" platform had a better shot. The Times' nod is more of a shrug. "In interviews and in this week's debate, he has been extremely unimpressive, hardly the man whom voters would normally want to hire as the state's chief fiscal officer and sole trustee of New York's $140 billion pension fund."

The Times' logic is a little goofy: In voting to install the eminently unqualified former Saratoga County treasurer, we're not really selecting the right candidate for the job but instead circumventing the "curdled" political culture of Albany, which would select Hevesi's replacement — assuming he does what's now probably the right thing and resigns. The one million people in the state pension system (as well as the tens of millions of New Yorkers easily annoyed by boring white guys in bowties) might see this act of conscience a little differently. The Republican Party spent more time considering the catering for its post-convention party than it did selecting Callaghan. Isn't there some other way we can rise as one and protest our broken system?

The Daily News agrees the choice belongs to the people and not the curdlers. But the paper wants us to take "some perspective," describing Callaghan as "a nice, decent man. The Wall Street sharks would surely have him for breakfast and toss the bones." The editorial board also take a levelheaded, even laid-back view of Hevesi's ruination. "On the grand scale of offenses against probity, Hevesi is guilty of misdemeanor rather than felony … Callaghan was unsuited for the job from the moment the Republicans nominated him. So, at this time, it has to be Hevesi."

Atmospherically above the fray as we are, having assessed the tone, style, and argument of these editorials, Early & Often endorses the Daily News endorsement of Alan Hevesi. It was shorter, clearer, mentioned sharks, and made the gutsier choice against the political grain. It wasn't an easy choice for us, but the ones that count never are.

For New York Comptroller [NYT]
Why It Has to Be Hevesi [NYDN]


4:20 PM


Leave Your Office Keys at the Front Desk, Al

A just-released statement from the Spitzer campaign:

Recent developments in the Comptroller's race are deeply troubling. The outcome of the Ethics Commission investigation presents information that compromises Alan Hevesi's ability to fulfill his responsibilities.

J. Christopher Callaghan's experience and substantive positions lead me to believe he is not qualified to be Comptroller. Therefore, I can no longer support either candidate in the state Comptroller's race. I am confident that State Senate proceedings will carefully evaluate the facts and recommend appropriate action. In the event that Mr. Hevesi is removed from office through such a proceeding, it is the obligation of state leaders to act in a bipartisan manner to find a highly-qualified replacement.


12:36 PM


It's Not Just Mrs. Hevesi's Fault

When this campaign season got rolling round about Labor Day, everyone knew Eliot Spitzer and Hillary Clinton were sure of certain victory come November 7. But even surer of certainer victory was Alan Hevesi. Obviously, that is no longer the case.

Our comptroller's free-spending ways don't end with state-subsidized car rides for the old lady. He also took two taxpayer-funded trips to Las Vegas and two more to Tel Aviv to the tune of about $35,000. While all the other comptrollers were eating at Denny's and clipping coupons, Alan Hevesi was drinking Hennessy at the Tropicana with Moe Green.

As Hevesi's bad-assness compounds, Democrats are fleeing from him. Republicans are acting like he's the worst thing for civic life since Nero rocked a fiddle. The Post endorsed his opponent. Republican Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno wants him out. The nonpartisan Citizens Union wants him out, and Eliot Spitzer probably wants him out, though he's still parsing the exact phrasing. Upstate congressional hopeful Kirsten Gillibrand is asking for his resignation to bolster her own credentials as a candidate of "ethics and accountability."

All because a guy wanted his sick wife to suffer a little less and get around a little easier. And play a little roulette on the back of working man.

Pressure Builds on Hevesi to Resign in Ethics Case [NYT]
State's Moneyman Jet-sets — First Class — on N.Y.ers' Dime [NYDN]


11:35 AM


Hevesi Fails Ethics Audit

Alan Hevesi never seemed like the cheating kind. He had 35 solid years in public service, taught political science, showed up for work on time, kept a clean desk, and didn't take long lunches. He was the perfect employee, with a solid record and a sweet hangdog expression — and now we learn, the perfect crook with conscience black as midnight.

Yesterday the word came down loud and clear. Hevesi is the first statewide official to be charged with wrongdoing by the State Ethics Commission. Citing security concerns, Hevesi had a public employee chauffeur his wife, Carol, around at taxpayer expense to the tune of $82,000.

That screaming sound is your pocketbook crying for mercy. It hurts, doesn't it?

Here are the specific findings of the commission. For those of you who suffered through black dark periods in our nation's history like Teapot Dome and Troopergate, this will merely be another sad example of the malfeasance we've come to expect from our elected officials. For younger readers, some of whom may be casting their first vote this very year, well, your nightmare of civic disillusionment had to begin sometime.

1. Hevesi's security concerns for his wife were illegitimate.

2. When the state police told Hevesi that his wife didn't need a private driver, he ignored them.

3. When Hevesi agreed to reimburse the state, he came up with a sum of $82,688.82, a figure the commission suggests is too low. Moreover, Hevesi's "failure to keep any record that would allow for proper reimbursement suggests that Mr. Hevesi did not intend to reimburse the state."

In Hevesi's defense, his wife is plagued by chronic back pain; has undergone a series of surgeries, including open-heart surgery; and suffers from severe depression. But this isn't about her, is it, Alan?

Hevesi released this statement: "I made a mistake," he said. "I am deeply sorry. I offer no excuses. I will continue to cooperate fully with any inquiry. I ask New Yorkers for their understanding and hope they will judge me on the basis of my performance as comptroller and my 35-year record of public service."

Hevesi's reelection this year is likely. As a low-profile officeholder on a Democratic slate, he is almost certain to keep his job. Yes, he's being investigated by the man at the top of the ticket, Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, and may have to resign upon winning. But his ability to slip underneath detection of the public at large is in keeping with his criminal pathology. Did Hevesi seek a position most people don't know exists as the perfect nest from which to hatch his plans? Were his many years in the State Assembly, failed run for mayor, and years as city comptroller all part of a plot to reach a perch just high enough to do evil but just low enough that no one would notice?

Read the report. [New York State Ethics Commission]

Ethics Panel Raps Hevesi [NYDN]


3:00 PM


Show Us on the Doll Where Mark Foley IMed You

Collect them all!Photograph courtesy of Spectre Studios/eBay

You've registered to vote. You've taken the day off work to watch the returns roll in. There's just one thing left to check off on your Election Day to-do list. What do you give that special someone that sums up exactly how you feel about this campaign season and the democratic process itself?

K-Mart is stocked to the rafters with Hillary crosses, but you'll look just like every other voter at the polls. Give a gift that reflects the uniqueness of this election cycle while stirring the heart (and possibly a couple of other organs as well).

Give an overage someone you love a Mark Foley doll. [eBay]


11:42 AM


Reynolds Clings to Apathetic Voting Patterns

Tom Reynolds chortles at the notion of losing his seat.Photograph by Getty Images

This morning brings a sweet avalanche of good news for the Democrats, the gang that couldn't campaign straight. From the fruited plains of Kansas to the forgotten industrial towns of upstate New York, all around the nation people are giving bland centrism and glib triangulation a second chance. Republicans are scrambling for answers and starving for leadership.

But there is one man, one lone soldier on the parapet, a warrior of steely spirit and girded gullet, ready to mount the tired elephant and lead the charge to glory. And that man is ... the jerk who got them in this mess in the first place. Yesterday, Tom Reynolds — National Republican Congressional Committee chair, Mark Foley cover-upper, and part-time youth exploiter — arose from his premature winter slumber, shook off the cobwebs, and reassured voters with this helpful cliché.

"Democrats, desperate after more than a decade out of power, are trying to nationalize this election," Reynolds told the National Press Club yesterday. "But the old saying still rings true: Voters may hate Congress, but they like their local representative."

Reynolds didn't bother to note the he's trailing in his own reelection bid by thirteen points, a contradiction that suggests either (a) the old rule of incumbency is changing or (b) Tom Reynolds is just that transcendently loathsome.

Moderates in Kansas Decide They're Not in GOP Anymore [WP]

Tables Turned for the G.O.P. Over Iraq Issue [NYT]

Reynolds Sees GOP Victory But Avoids Talk About His Tight Race [Democrat & Chronicle]


4:25 PM


Upstate Blizzard Dulls Pols' Senses

The winner of our "Who Will Bail Bilge From the USS Reynolds" contest has come forward. Capital Confidential confirms our initial assertion: George Pataki will stand with anyone. The governor appeared with beleaguered Tom Reynolds, County Executive Joel Giambra, and Mayor Byron Brown in Buffalo this very afternoon "to provide briefing on the coordinated response to the snow storm." We congratulate Messrs. Pataki and Reynolds. Voters are sure to be impressed by local pols taking a strong, unified position on contentious issues such as snow removal. (And what does a congressman have to do with that? Perhaps Michael Brown has the answers.)

In other chilling news, both John "There's a Little Black Spot on the Sun Today" Faso and Eliot "Every Little Thing He Does Is Magic" Spitzer both spent a snowed-in night in Buffalo. Faso had to cancel appearances today in Rochester and Syracuse and instead is plowing his way to Watertown. Spitzer bedded down in the airport but is now home cupping a hot toddy and chuckling.

Reynolds Makes an Appearance [Capital Confidential]
The Snow in Buffalo [Empire Zone]


6:45 PM


Thanks for Mark Foley, Karl Rove!

Ignore official documents:
Joe Negron is not Mark Foley.

Tonight's Spitzer-Faso debate (8 p.m., NY1) promises to be a doozy, but before you gather the family for the traditional pre-debate huddle, let's turn our attention away from the issues that'll shape our lives back to where it ought to be: Smut.

An October day that passes without a little falling Foley-age is not a day worth enduring, and today, thanks to the New Republic's the Plank, there is fresh Foley news. Apparently, the deposed Florida congressman wanted to preemptively auto-depose himself two years ago. A man of broad ambition, Foley was planning on leaving the House to become a lobbyist but was dissuaded by a Republican administration fearful of losing the House.

(Note: Because we respect your intelligence, we didn't go for the joke about how being a lobbyist is the second sickest thing you can do in D.C. after sending dirty IMs to teenagers. Anyway, moving on …)

It's somewhat odd that GOP higher-ups didn't consider simply ratting Foley out in the summer of 2005, looking like good cops on the beat, and finding another patsy to take his place. Any local hardware-store owner or mattress inspector would have sufficed in rosy red West Florida.

The GOP is running Florida state representative Joe Negron in Foley's besmirched place. Seems like a fine specimen. Married, goes to church, breeds. For the regular guy in you, he plays golf and shoots the occasional game of hoops, For the PBS-me-ASAP in you, he lists "courthouse architecture" as a personal interest. (Not sure if he restores them or just likes looking at them. Anybody?)

As pure as Negron's background may be, his victory is all but impossible unless Floridians vote in spite of an overwhelming sense of revulsion. Foley may not be in the race, but he's still on the ballot. Negron entered the race after ballots were printed, so Floridians looking to elect him will technically be voting for the disgraced Foley. The only way this seemingly perfectly okay Negron fellow has any chance is to go around Palm Beach telling people to "vote Foley." Hope he has an armored car.

How Rove Twisted Foley's Arm [TNR's The Plank]

10/ 6/06

1:25 PM


Get a Handle on the Page Scandal

Those of you who take breaks from news-gathering to sleep and eat may have missed the latest Foley-Reynolds-Fordham-Hastert scandal action. Fear not. We've got you covered.

Besieged National Republican Congressional Committee chair and alleged Foley-IM-cover-up-er Tom Reynolds is now officially losing his bid for reelection. Bloggers in his upstate district were upset that Democrat Jack Davis didn't pounce on Reynolds last week. Instead, Davis followed the party strategy of hanging back while the Republicans flail around hopelessly.

Speaking of flailing, here's a video of Reynolds's press conference Wednesday — have a towel handy to wipe the sweat off your screen. And here's a snippet from the statement of resignation released Thursday by Reynolds's chief of staff, Kirk Fordham. He pretty much blamed speaker Dennis Hastert.

Scott Palmer, Hastert's chief of staff, claims, "What Kirk Fordham said did not happen." The FBI will interview Fordham, perhaps to look into a promising lead courtesy of Matt Drudge. It was all just a prank.

As Reynolds's fortunes change, he's gone from the guy in charge of doling out money to congressional Republicans in tight races to an embattled incumbent who needs his own backup. Laura Bush shilled on Wednesday, and John McCain is scheduled to support Reynolds in Rochester on October 20.

Reynolds isn't the only upstate Republican hurting from Foley's fallout. Democratic challenger John Hall is dogging his opponent, GOP incumbent Sue Kelly, about whether she knew of Foley's actions. Kelly chaired the Congressional Page Board more than five years ago, and musician–environmental activist Hall is making sure voters know it.

"Rep. Foley's perverse actions may have taken place under Sue Kelly's watch," Hall said in a press release. "When it seems that so many others knew of Foley's lewd and entirely inappropriate behavior, why didn't Sue Kelly?" Hall continued. "And if she did know, why didn't she do anything to protect these children?"

Kelly responded: "I am a mother, a former teacher, and a grandmother. I have a strong record of protecting children. If anything had been brought to my attention, I would have acted very forcefully and immediately."

How far will the Foley infection spread? We don't know, but we're loving every tainted minute of it.

10/ 5/06

3:00 PM


Mom and Dad Got Fordham's Back

The age of the politicized child has come to an end. Long live the age of the politicized parent. James and Yvonne Fordham, the proud parents of Tom Reynolds's recently resigned chief of staff, Kirk Fordham, have reached out to Rochester's "R News" — the NY1 of Rochester — with assurance that their son wasn't part of any damn cover-up and sure as hell didn't try to cut a deal with ABC to keep Foley's sketchy IMs off the news. "I know he didn't attempt any cover-up," said James Fordham.

Well, that's that. Case closed, nation healed. Now can we please move on?

See a detailed time line of Fordham's political career. [Talking Points Memo]

2:45 PM


Pataki Picks Reynolds Over Pirro

Two days after bailing on a Jeanine Pirro rally, leaving her to scramble for a last-minute fill-in (her children), Governor George Pataki injected a dose of stiff in his spine and made good on his promise to attend a Buffalo fund-raiser for Pirro-esquely doomed representative Tom Reynolds on Wednesday. Laura Bush also appeared, so maybe Pataki just went to nudge up against the only person in his party whose approval rating is still above Mao Tse-tung's. Considering how dreary the Albany-Buffalo commute is, it's nice that he made the effort.

When asked about Reynolds's role in covering up Mark Foley's inappropriate page handling (which now seems to go back further and further), Pataki said:

"I can't say that because I don't know enough about the internal workings, and what e-mail went where. But the appropriate step was for Congressman Foley to resign, he did, he probably should have done it a long time ago. But I think the onus is on him, and that should be investigated."

A boring quote and now "onus" seems like a dirty word. Considering Pataki's innate ability to make everything dull, we wish he would have stayed home. And when Reynolds loses his election, Pataki's presidential campaign staff will wish for the same thing.

First Lady Appears in Support of Reynolds [AP]

10/ 4/06

5:45 PM


Reynolds's Fall Guy

Consequences of the Mark Foley fiasco are getting closer to upstate incumbent representative Tom Reynolds. His chief of staff, Kirk Fordham, resigned this afternoon after admitting to asking ABC News to hold off on reporting the porny instant messages sent by Foley to a former House page.

Fordham was Foley's chief of staff for a decade and remained friends with the recently gay, recently alcoholic former congressman.

"I have resigned today from Congressman Tom Reynolds's office," Fordham said in a statement released to the press. "It is clear the Democrats are intent on making me a political issue in my boss's race, and I will not let them do so."

Partisan slime-wielding even in abject career-scorching disgrace! Fordham should send his resume to Katherine Harris. She'll appreciate a chief of staff who loves trading media conspiracy theories.

"N.Y. Rep's Aid Tried to Hush It Up" [NYDN]

2:00 PM


Jeanine Pirro Drags the Kids Into It

Jokes about people being from central casting aside, the newly unveiled Pirro kids absolutely meet expectations. There's the overachieving daughter with the vengeful smile and the glum "yes, you are getting a haircut" son. What's weird is that beyond the normal family photo op, they were really at Tuesday's Pirro fund-raiser to offer an endorsement of their mom. By the look on young Alex's face, perhaps the appearances were conceded to only after complex negotiations — "Okay, fine, you can go to the Tool concert and I'll overlook your bong if you do me this one favor."

It's a similar but much sadder version of Howard Dean's "family support" moment in the 2004 presidential primary. To prove his wife, Judy, cared that he was running for president, Dean had to produce her at an Iowa rally. That moment — an early sign of Dean's ultimate unelectability — offered a progressive vision of the political family, an apolitical spouse reluctant to set aside her life and craft a flattering public persona she saw as potentially inauthentic. The Pirros broke a rockier patch of ground, but unlike another New York Republican who flubbed his kidsploitation moment yesterday, the Pirros did it faux-triumphantly. And they did so as one. Minus Dad, of course, who was probably at Scores.

10/ 3/06

12:05 PM


Reynolds Cowers Behind Innocent Children

Embroiled in the ever-expanding Mark Foley e-creep scandal, National Republican Congressional Committee chairman and upstate representative Tom Reynolds is defending his own role in the increasingly tawdry affair. Reynolds knew of the Foley e-mails last spring, and though he says he told his boss Dennis Hastert, he did not follow up with law-enforcement officials.

At a press conference yesterday, Reynolds redirected criticism to Hastert. The excellent blog Buffalo Geek covers it all with gleeful disgust.

But sometimes it's not what you say, it's who you say it with:

We can only assume that after Reynolds finished fielding questions from reporters, the children burst into a beautiful rendition of the Eagles' country-rock chestnut "Desperado."

12:00 PM


Hillary Clinton Belongs to the World

Hillary Clinton: thunder in the Senate chamber, lightning on the stump. The closer we get to her, the more she makes us see, to paraphrase Roberta Flack. Yet, as with any star that sets the firmament ablaze, get too close and you might get burned. So it was with one sad little man from Vermont. Chris Stewart, a speechwriter for Republican House candidate Martha Rainville, resigned yesterday after he was discovered to be stealing material from Hillary's speeches. The offenses were rooted out by the blog Reason and Brimstone.

Rainville's Website is no longer up, but Reason and Brimstone quotes the goods:

Martha Rainville: "Briefly, I strongly believe that our present system of energy is weakening our national security, hurting our pocketbooks and threatening our children's future."

Hillary Clinton: "Our present system of energy is weakening our national security, hurting our pocketbooks, violating our common values and threatening our children's future. "

Hillary claims she's been making serious inroads with Republicans in and out of New York. She's more right than she thought.

"Rainville's Stolen Ideas" [Reason and Brimstone]

10/ 2/06

4:45 PM


Paging Mr. Reynolds

As the smut thickens in the Mark Foley e-harassment scandal, New York's Tom Reynolds, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee and representative of the 26th District, has been dragged into the drama. Reynolds knew of the Foley e-mails last spring and not only did nothing to expose his series-of-tubes abusing buddy but also accepted a $100,000 donation Foley made to the NRCC in July. That money is, at best, "overfriendly."

Local lefty blogger Daily Gotham wonders if the cover-up is ready to "explode, right in Tom Reynolds' face." Not the Faso-esque metaphor we'd choose, but descriptive nonetheless.