Friday, September 01, 2006

Greasing palms

Allegations of John Sweeney being caught “red-handed” has Congressman Kickass hopping mad. Now, he’s on the horn with legal demagogue E. Stewart Jones –the attorney who beat the rap for Junior –and is threatening to sue any television station intrepid enough to air the moveon.org commercials alleging the incumbent 20th district representative is on the take of the defense contractors presently bilking Iraq.

For moveon.org, it’s a good smear campaign to wage against Sweeney after a Sienna poll found him to be nearly 19 points ahead of challenger Kirsten Gillibrand. And for Sweeney, publicly castigating –even threatening –a far-left organization like moveon.org is just the trick to mobilize the oft-brain dead Limbaughites who might not ordinarily vote during a non-presidential election.

So there’s a bit of strategy on either side, but there’s very little cogent information coming from anyone in the matter, including Team Sweeney, moveon.org and even Gillibrand herself, who laughably claims she hasn’t seen the ads.

So the question remains, who is greasing Big John’s palm? Let’s go to the video tape.

First of all, Sweeney must like shopping at the sprawling retail centers that have popped up across the Capital Region. Or at least the shopping centers must like him. The Albany-based Nigro Companies, a real estate developer specializing in establishing commercial shopping centers has given the Sweeney campaign a solid $15,250, making it his number-one register contributor.

Ever wonder who Sweeney’s wireless provider is? Well look no further than the company that has given him $12,100 this election cycle. Verizon Wireless logs in at number two on the list of the congressman’s fiscal supporters.

And if you’re wondering who the third leading contributor to the Sweeney Campaign was, look no further than the mirror. New York State gave Sweeney a cool $11,850. Of course the caveat is these organizations themselves didn’t donate, rather the money came from Political Action Committees, its individual members or employees or owners, and those individuals’ immediate families, if that makes any sense.

Further down the list at number five is one that bibulous Sweeney can well imbibe to his gullet; the National Beer Wholesalers Association is tied for the fifth spot among a laundry list of specialty and labor unions who gave $10,000 to Camp Kickass. Good times.

On an interesting side note, one PAC that gave a cool ten grand to the Sweeney was a 527 group called the Rely on Your Beliefs Fund, which has a familiar name attached to it. The organization’s founder is Jim Ellis, who was also the executive director of The Hammer’s PAC, Americans for a Republican Majority, and is one of the two political associates indicted with DeLay one year ago in a scheme to use corporate donations illegally to support candidates in state elections.

All in all, Sweeney’s logged himself more than $1.6 million worth of donations, and has spent about $1.1 million on getting himself re-elected. So far, he’s disclosed about 86 percent of his donors, leaving 13 percent –or roughly $216,000 –of his donations from undisclosed sources, meaning his campaign failed to identify the giver’s employer or occupation. That’s a bit off par from the average undisclosed contributions in congress, which was around 9 percent in 2000.

If there’s anything to be garnered from Camp Kickass, it’s that greasy pork-eating politicians spend big during election years; bigger than most Americans will spend in a lifetime. Granted, he’s probably no different than most of the politicians in Washington these days, but that’s still not a viable excuse for the poisoned money that has infected the bloodstream of good political discourse in this nation.

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