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Democracy For The Southern Adirondack/Tricounty Area
Tuesday, January 17, 2006
Tricounty DFA Update: Gillibrand Endorsed, Sweeney Scandal! & More
Hello Everyone;

In this update:

1. Six 20th Congressional District DFA Groups Endorse Gillibrand
2. Glens Falls Meetup Report
3. Sweeney/ Lobbyist Scandal
4. Check Out Sweeney Hotel
5. Can You Write A Letter?

1. Six 20th Congressional District DFA Groups Endorse Gillibrand

Last week across the 20th Congressional District six DFA groups joined together to simultaneously and unanimously endorse Kirsten Gillibrand for Congress. If you didn't see it, DFA's Blog For America gave our report a big play Sunday; check it out at:

No group of DFA meetups has done this in a Congressional District before. So it is a big step forward both for our local DFA coalition and the Gillibrand campaign. A formal announcement by Kirsten is coming soon and we will let you know when details are available.

2. Glens Falls Meetup Report

Last week in Glens Falls a healthy crowd joined with the other district DFA groups on a 40 minute live conference call with Kirsten Gillibrand, then moved with little ado and smiles all around to unanimously endorse Kirsten. It's been ten months since KIrsten made her first appearance here while exploring a race, so it was a moment most of us had been looking forward to for some time. After the endorsement we discussed the upcoming DFA Training Day in South Glens Falls at the Plumber's Hall, the Gillibrand Field Program to Take Back the 20th CD (more on all that later), and scheduled the video Walmart, the High Price of The Low Price for the February meeting.

Note: the Glens Falls February Meeting will be held on its usual day, the first Wednesday of the month, February 1st.

3. Sweeney/ Lobbyist Scandal

The race hasn't really even begun and Sweeney is already embroiled in a scandal! Last weekend Rep. Sweeney went to pricey ski town Park City, Utah for a top secret, ultra expensive $2,000 a head lobbying weekend with District of Columbia lobbyists and insiders -- at the very moment the lobbying scandal is exploding all over the capitol.

He had the incredible gall to do this right when he was talking in the press about the need for lobbying reform.

Who was there? How much did they give Sweeney? Most importantly, what did he promise them in return? For more, check out the official campaign press release on our blog at

For more read the AP article from Newsday at the bottom. There'll be articles in the TU and other papers tomorrow.

4. Check Out Sweeney Hotel

Sweeney talks a great game about promoting businesses and communities in the 20th. But for some reason Sweeney chose to take his rich lobbyist pals to Utah for his fundraising junket.

I can tell you for a fact there are some very fine resorts all over the Adirondacks. Not good enough for Sweeney, though. Want to see how a well connected Republican Congressman in the age of scandal and corruption actually lives? The Hotel Park City, where Sweeney stayed in a $349 a night suite (there are nothing but suites in this posh establishment) has a very elaborate website with high resolution pictures. (Also a webcam you can move remotely -- I've been in the web design business for some time and I can't even guess what that slick little goodie cost.)

The big Sundance Film Festival, the American Cannes, is just about to start there. The Park City Hotel is a favorite with big name Hollywood celebrities like Sean Penn, Minnie Driver and Robert Downey, Jr.

First read the description:

Then check out the pictures:
and know it's a tough gig to be a Republican Congressman in the age of sleaze.

Also note the twice a day maid services, the complimentary Bvlgari bath amenities, the four telephones in each suite, the working fireplaces, jet tubs, secretarial services and -- get this -- the heated, inside parking spaces! (The last time my car was in a heated space was the Fourth of July!)

And yet Sweeney would have us believe he's just a regular guy. In a Bvlgari bubble bath.

5. Can You Write A Letter?

So! What do we do about this? Could we ask you all to write a letter to the editor?

Here are some suggested points:
* Our Adirondack resorts aren't good enough, John?
* Or are you slinking out there for a reason? Something to hide, you need to go out of state?
* Did you stop off in Las Vegas on the way home?
* Can average working people who only get two weeks vacation a year and can't take off for the slopes whenever they feel like it get the kind of time those lobbyists get?
* Are you still spending tens of thousands of dollars on limo services?

You can use this form at the post-star: or email them to
For other papers use this form at the AAUW:

More later this week on our DFA Training Day on February 4th and the Gillibrand Field Program.

Thanks for those letters, everyone!




Associated Press Writer

January 17, 2006, 3:24 PM EST

WASHINGTON -- A would-be challenger to Rep. John Sweeney took aim Tuesday at the Republican congressman over a ski-weekend fundraiser in Park City, Utah with a pharmaceutical industry lobbyist.

"Skiing with Sweeney" was billed as a $2,000 contribution-per-person event last weekend at a ski resort, where, according to the invite, the Sweeney room rate was $349 a night.

Kirsten Gillibrand, a Democratic lawyer seeking to run against Sweeney, charges the event undercuts Sweeney's effort to fix recent troubles in Congress _ including a burgeoning congressional corruption probe _ by holding new party leadership elections.

"The congressman talked about reform and here he is out at this posh resort doing the same old business," said Gillibrand campaign manager Bill Hyers.

Melissa Carlson, a Sweeney spokeswoman, called the charges "malicious, self-serving, and hypocritical."

Sweeney has called for new elections for all House GOP leaders except Speaker Dennis Hastert, saying the Republican members need to do some "soul searching."

The congressional probe centers around corrupt lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who has pleaded guilty and is cooperating with a federal criminal probe of a number of members of Congress and staffers.

Days after Abramoff's guilty pleas, former majority leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, announced he would not seek to reclaim the post. DeLay was already battling a felony campaign finance indictment in his home state.

Sweeney has not been linked to any of the corruption allegations, but Gillibrand's camp charged Tuesday that the ski fundraiser showed the congressman is part of the lobbyist problem in Washington.

The invite included a dinner at the Park City home of Jeff Kimbell, a medical and pharmaceutical industry lobbyist.

"Are we really treating the voters of the district well by having some swanky dinner to raise money for his campaign at this pharmaceutical lobbyist's house when obviously low-cost prescription drugs are a big issue in the district?" said Hyers.

Sweeney's office countered that, during the trip, Sweeney met with an executive of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association to talk about economic development in and around Lake Placid, N.Y., and said his opponent Gillibrand had failed to follow basic campaign reporting rules.

"Ms. Gillibrand has chosen the low road in her first campaign for office in a district she barely knows, for people she's never met, for reasons we may never know," said Carlson.

Sweeney's campaign has received more than $50,000 from lobbyists for the 2006 election cycle, second only to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., among New York members of Congress, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks political fundraising.

Gillibrand plans to announce a policy that every meeting with a lobbyist should be publicly disclosed.

"We need to set a new standard (in which) you need to fully disclose every single thing about that meeting," said Hyers. "That's reasonable, especially in this climate."

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