Author Archives: New Frontier

About New Frontier

I have spent 25 years actively researching the Kennedy family, with a primary focus on the life of President John F. Kennedy. Since 2000, I have served as campaign manager and communications director for three local campaigns in my hometown of Austin, Texas, and still believe that "politics is a noble adventure".

RFK Jr.’s Wife Mary Dead of an Apparent Suicide

Mary Richardson-Kennedy at the couple’s Westchester home in 2009.

The “lost and alone” estranged wife of Robert F. Kennedy Jr. hanged herself  Wednesday in a barn behind her Westchester home — the latest tragedy to claim a member of the famed Camelot clan.

Mary Richardson Kennedy, 52, was the mother of four children, the oldest 17 and the youngest 11. She was discovered by a family housekeeper, sources told the New York Daily News.

The Kennedys, who married in 1994, split almost exactly two years ago in what friends say was a devastating blow to Mary.

RELATED: HER CAMELOT DREAM SLOWLY SOURED AND FELL APART

The May 2010 divorce filing, coupled with the media frenzy following her arrest for drunken driving three days later, started Mary Kennedy on a tragic downward spiral that ended with her suicide on her Bedford property, friends said.

She had struggled with alcohol for years and went into rehab in February, a family friend told the Daily News.

RELATED: DON’T BLAME KENNEDY CURSE BECAUSE CURSES DON’T KILL

“She always seems lost these days, whenever she came into the village,” said a neighbor. “Lost and alone and sort of out of it.”

Her husband, a prominent environmentalist and high-profile member of the Kennedy dynasty, has been living primarily in California, palling around with movie stars and dating TV actress Cheryl Hines.

Mary Kennedy had not found a new romance.

News of her suicide stunned her family and friends.

“She’s my best friend,” said her sister-in-law, Kerry Kennedy, who introduced Mary Kennedy to her brother.

“Our whole family is devastated by the loss and we appreciate everyone’s prayers.”

Bedford police responded to the house at 1:36 p.m. to investigate a “possible unattended death,” according to a press release. It was not immediately clear when she died.

The children were away from home — the two oldest at boarding school and the two youngest with their father, family sources said.

Kennedy Grounds

Photo: Richard Harbus for New York Daily News

Emergency crews rushed to the Kennedy estate, but there was little they could do.

One family source said Mary Kennedy was due to fight her husband for custody, but that could not be confirmed.

An autopsy will be performed Thursday, said Westchester County spokesman Kieran O’Leary.

A somber RFK Jr. arrived at the house late Wednesday amid a stream of mourners. He said nothing to gathered reporters.

Kennedy Barn

Mary Kennedy had hanged herself in one of the outer buildings of her Westchester County property.

“We deeply regret the death of our beloved sister Mary, whose radiant and creative spirit will be sorely missed by those who loved her,” Mary Kennedy’s family said in a statement.

“Our heart goes out to her children who she loved without reservation.”

She had overseen the renovation of the couple’s home into an environmental showpiece.

Family and friends descended on the red brick mansion Wednesday night, bringing food, flowers and comfort.

“Why? This is terrible. We don’t need this,” said one teary-eye woman holding a bouquet.

Mary Kennedy was working as an architectural designer in Manhattan when she became the Kennedy heir’s second wife just three weeks after he divorced his first bride.

She had been friends with the family for years, since meeting Kennedy’s sister, Kerry, when they were teenagers. They were so close they chose to room together at Brown University, and Mary was Kerry’s maid of honor in 1990.

Mary and Robert Kennedy tied the knot on a boat on the Hudson River.

A Catholic Mass was followed by a civil ceremony, with Kennedy’s two children from his first marriage on deck with the bride and groom.

They had four kids together — Connor, Kyra, William and Aiden — before he filed for divorce on May 12, 2010.

Kennedy Family Daughter

Charles Eshelman/FilmMagic

Mary Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and their daughter Kyra LeMoyne Kennedy attend the RFK Center Ripple of Hope Awards dinner at Pier Sixty at Chelsea Piers in Nov. 2009.

Three days later, she was arrested for driving under the influence after police saw her drive over a curb outside a school carnival.

She failed a number of sobriety tests and her blood-alcohol level registered 0.11. The criminal charge was dismissed and she was given a one-year conditional release.

On Aug. 21, 2010, she was pulled over in Dutchess County and arrested for driving under the influence of drugs.

She had mixed prescription medications. The charge was later dismissed.

“Bobby tried really, really hard to shield the kids from her condition,” a source said.

The divorce that so upset her has not yet been finalized.

Neighbors in Bedford called Mary Kennedy a lovely woman who was active in community and school affairs, but had recently seemed a “bit off” — either medicated or intoxicated. But a friend of Mary’s told The News that Mary feared her husband was trying to “gaslight” her — make her think she was going crazy.

Although the split hit her hard, her problems began long before Robert filed for divorce.

As early as 2007, Robert Kennedy tried to drive her to a hospital for treatment, but she left the car and ran into the road.

“I remember she was acting kind of out of it, kind of crazy,” witness Rae Kesten told the Journal News at the time. “She was running into the street and flailing her arms around. He was trying to restrain her. I didn’t know if they were fighting or not, but I was concerned.”

Robert Kennedy is the third of 11 children of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, who was assassinated in 1968, five years after his older brother President John F. Kennedy was killed in Dallas.

Michael Kennedy, one of his younger brothers, died in 1997 when he slammed into a tree while tossing a football on a ski slope. Another brother, David, died of a drug overdose in 1984.

- With Kenneth Lovett and Edgar Sandoval

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Opinion: History Channel Kennedy Miniseries will be “Shamalot”

 

The Kennedy Brothers

 

ISN’T ASSASSINATION ENOUGH?

LET THE KENNEDYS REST IN PEACE

Dear Friends –
 
I am taking time today to write and express my extreme displeasure with The History Channel’s planned miniseries The Kennedys. After reviewing portions of the draft script, I was floored by the sheer number of inaccuracies, distortions and omissions of essential facts in this docu-drama.
 
This is not what future generations should be learning about the presidency of John F. Kennedy.
 
As we reach the 50th anniversary of JFK’s inauguration this year, presenting an epic miniseries which is not only grossly inaccurate but clearly designed to assassinate the character of a president who gave his life for this country, is wholly unacceptable to me. 
 
My daily concern as a historian, author and museum curator is the quality of education we are giving our children in the field of history. As a radio/print journalist, Kennedy scholar, and founder of several websites devoted to the Kennedy family legacy, I have devoted 25 years of my life to providing accurate information to anyone who is interested in learning about our nation’s 35th president and his family.
 
So when I see a script like The Kennedys, proposed to air on (of all places) The History Channel, I shudder to think of the potential and far-reaching consequences.
 
When fiction is presented as fact, that is entertainment. It is not history and has no place on The History Channel.
 
I am also highly offended that the same History Channel which brought us such outstanding documentaries as JFK: A Presidency Revealed and Turner’s The Men Who Killed Kennedy would ever stoop this low, becoming little more than a mouthpiece for right-wing rumormongering and propaganda the likes of which we would expect from Fox News.
 
Many of my fellow historians and researchers have joined together to let the History Channel know how we feel. We must try and stop this miniseries from being produced as currently written.
 
Please ask The History Channel to allow JFK’s living decendants, friends and key advisors – as well as credible historians and researchers – to consult on production of The Kennedys miniseries. Then, and only then, can we rest assured that this presentation on the Kennedy family is truly “fair and balanced.” 
 
Please take a few minutes to learn more about The Kennedys miniseries here:

History channel draws flak for planned JFK miniseries

Pittsburgh Post Gazette – Dave Itzkoff – ‎Feb 19, 2010‎

 Also please visit the website http://StopKennedySmears.com to view a short film directed by Robert Greenwald of Brave New Films which features interviews with Ted Sorensen, David Talbot, Nigel Hamilton, Rick Perlstein, David Nasaw and other Kennedy historians expressing their shock and outrage at this deeply-flawed production. You can view some excerpts of the script and decide for yourself is this is what you want your grandchildren to know about President Kennedy and his family. 

If Jack Kennedy were alive today, he’d surely sue them for defamation of character and win. But since he’s sadly not here to defend himself, looks like it’s going to be up to those of us who still care to speak up before it’s too late. 

If you agree, I hope you will add your name to the petition at StopKennedySmears.com and tell the History Channel to present real history. 

Thank You,
 
 
New Frontier
Founding Editor

 

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RFK Jr. Remembers Eunice Kennedy Shriver

Video of Robert F. Kennedy Jr. speaking at the wake for his aunt Eunice Kennedy Shriver. Courtesy of WCVB-TV.

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Eunice Kennedy Shriver: A Very Special Lady

 

 

EUNICE KENNEDY SHRIVER:

 A VERY SPECIAL LADY

* I posted this personal rememberance of Mrs. Shriver on my dear friend Jack Kennedy’s MySpace blog (and you thought they didn’t have computers in heaven!).  Wanted to share it with all of you who loved this amazing woman!

 

- New Frontier
Founding Editor

Dearest Jack -

I always had such a great admiration for your sister Eunice.

During your time in the Oval Office, America had yet to experience the women’s rights revolution and few women worked outside the home, much less achieved positions of global leadership. Eunice, in her characteristic “I don’t give a damn what anybody thinks, I’m going to do it anyway” style, smashed that barrier and showed us all just what a woman could do.

In the 1960s, when America was more concerned with civil rights and equal treatment of blacks and racial minorities, no one gave much thought to the mentally disabled. Quite frankly, the Kennedys might not have given the matter much gravity either had it not struck their own family in such a heartbreaking way. Eunice, in her characteristic “I don’t give a damn what anybody thinks, I’m going to do it anyway” style, smashed that barrier too and showed us all what supposedly “retarded” people could do.

It is important to remember that the first such games were not held in a large arena before thousands of people with television cameras rolling as it was in 1968. What would later become known as the Special Olympics started out in 1962 as a small athletic competition in Eunice’s backyard. Little publicity was given at the time (even though the organizer of these Olympic trials was the president’s sister…newsworthy in itself), which tellingly illustrates just how little America cared about our “special needs” citizens back then. 

For centuries Americans looked down upon the mentally disabled persons in their communities, and even felt ashamed of their own family members who were “different.” The Kennedys themselves avoided acknowledging Rosemary’s struggle – oftentimes even her very existence – for political reasons, knowing that people might not be inclined to vote for a man who had a “retarded” sister. Of course this made no sense whatsoever, but it was the cultural climate of the time. And so poor Rosemary, confined for life to an institution, had all but been forgotten.

But not by Eunice!

No one ever asked Eunice to lift a finger to help the mentally disabled. No one ever asked her to start a foundation for their betterment and to fight against the discrimination they suffered in our society. In fact, it would have been much better politically had she left well enough alone and not made an issue of it. But Eunice, in her characteristic “I don’t give a damn what anybody else thinks, I’m going to do it anyway” style, brought this important civil rights issue to the forefront, against the seemingly wise counsel of her own family’s political advisers.

Turns out the “experts” were wrong. Eunice was right. The Special Olympics has now expanded to nearly every country across the globe. Thanks to Eunice’s tireless efforts over almost half a century, the human race now takes a far more enlightened view of the mentally disabled.

Helping advance the cause of fairness and equal treatment of our world’s ignored, misunderstood, and oft-mistreated brothers and sisters was something Eunice Kennedy Shriver just had to do –  and I for one am so glad she did it.

Only a woman like Eunice could have done it. She was one very, very special lady; what people of your generation used to call “a real go-getter!”

And you, my dear Jack, were so fortunate to have this brilliant, glowing soul as your little sister. (Of course I don’t have to tell *you* that!) She was all that you admired; a fighting Irish spitfire and a true profile in courage!

I hope the two of you are enjoying your long-awaited family reunion in heaven.

May the circle be unbroken.

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Of Kennedys and Kings: Remembering 1968

* On the 40th anniversary of the MLK Assassination last year, our founding editor New Frontier wrote this remembrance of the tragic events which took place this week in 1968. We wanted to share it with you again today.

MLK and RFK

RFK and MLK

MARCH 31-APRIL 4, 1968 – A WEEK THAT CHANGED AMERICA

“Even in our sleep,
pain which cannot forget
falls drop by drop upon the heart,
until, in our own despair,
against our will,
comes wisdom
through the awful grace of God.”

 

– Aeschylus, as quoted by Robert Kennedy upon the death of MLK

Φ

40 years ago this week brought us to a critical turning point in the American experience.

By March of `68, with the peace movement rapidly growing and anti-war sentiment at its’ peak, it seemed that things might finally be turning around for the better. Robert F. Kennedy had just entered the presidential race opposing the war. There was a brewing sense of hope that a Kennedy presidency would be restored five years after the death of JFK.

Little did America suspect that the era known as “Camelot” was not to rise again. On the contrary, it was about to come to an abrupt, ironic, tragic, and bloody end.

Over the course of just five short days, we watched in shock as President Lyndon B. Johnson stepped aside and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was brutally murdered. We saw race riots erupt in the streets of our cities, and wondered if the whole world just might burn. We heard one of the most stirring pleas for peace and unity ever spoken by any politician when Robert F. Kennedy delivered the news of Dr. King’s assassination in the heart of an Indianapolis ghetto.

Looking back with the hindsight of history, we can now fully comprehend the importance of this pivotal moment. Those who lived through it will never be able to shake the memory. For for the ones who weren’t old enough to remember or had not been born yet, the events of that week still fascinate, even when experienced secondhand through books or grainy old news footage.

It’s a tale of stunning upsets, unimaginable horrors and stark contrasts: of presidents and peace, of war and love, of confusion and clarity, of Kennedys and Kings. Of pain which cannot forget – even after forty years.

LBJ GETS OUT OF THE WAY

The first jolt came on March 31, President Lyndon B. Johnson stunned the nation with the surprise announcement that he would not seek re-election to the presidency in 1968.

Appearing on TV at 9 p.m. that evening, LBJ first announced that he was taking steps to limit the war in Vietnam. He outlined his plan at some length; then, in what seemed almost an afterthought, dropped this unexpected bombshell:

“Fifty-two months and 10 days ago, in a moment of tragedy and trauma, the duties of this office fell upon me. I asked then for your help and God’s, that we might continue America on its course, binding up our wounds, healing our history, moving forward in new unity, to clear the American agenda and to keep the American commitment for all of our people.

United we have kept that commitment. United we have enlarged that commitment.

Through all time to come, I think America will be a stronger nation, a more just society, and a land of greater opportunity and fulfillment because of what we have all done together in these years of unparalleled achievement.

Our reward will come in the life of freedom, peace, and hope that our children will enjoy through ages ahead.

What we won when all of our people united just must not now be lost in suspicion, distrust, selfishness, and politics among any of our people.

Believing this as I do, I have concluded that I should not permit the Presidency to become involved in the partisan divisions that are developing in this political year.

With America’s sons in the fields far away, with America’s future under challenge right here at home, with our hopes and the world’s hopes for peace in the balance every day, I do not believe that I should devote an hour or a day of my time to any personal partisan causes or to any duties other than the awesome duties of this office–the Presidency of your country.

Accordingly, I shall not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your President.”

LBJ's address to the nation, March 31, 1968

President Johnson addresses the nation on television – March 31, 1968 

At that exact moment, Kennedy (who had just announced his intention to run for the presidency two weeks earlier) was coming in for a landing at La Guardia airport. The New York State Democratic chairman, John Burns, raced aboard the plane and breathlessly told Kennedy, “The president is not going to run.”

Kennedy just stared at him. “You’re kidding,” he said.

On the drive in from the airport, RFK seemed lost in thought. Finally, he said, “I wonder if he (LBJ) would have done this if I hadn’t come in.”

MLK ASSASSINATED

Bobby wouldn’t have much time to ponder Johnson’s motivations. While on the campaign trail four days later — again on an airplane — he recieved word that Martin Luther King had just been shot and killed by a sniper in Memphis.

Kennedy “sagged. His eyes went blank,” said New York Times reporter Johnny Apple, who delivered the news to RFK.

By the time Bobby arrived in Indianapolis, King had been reported dead. Fearing a race riot, the chief of police advised Kennedy to cancel his scheduled appearance in a mostly black neighborhood. Ignoring the warnings, RFK arrived at the speech site – a wind-blown lot surrounded by tenements – in his brother’s old overcoat with the collar turned up.

About a thousand people were gathered there, rallying and cheering for Bobby with all the usual excitment generated at his campaign stops. The crowd awaited his speech, happily oblivious to the news that Dr. King had been shot down. 

Throwing out his prepared remarks, Bobby pulled from his pocket a crumpled piece of paper with his own hastily scribbled notes and began to speak in quiet, reverent tones, his voice occasionally cracking with nervous emotion:

“Ladies and Gentlemen – I’m only going to talk to you just for a minute or so this evening. Because…

I have some very sad news for all of you, and I think sad news for all of our fellow citizens, and people who love peace all over the world, and that is that Martin Luther King was shot and was killed tonight in Memphis, Tennessee.

(Audible gasps and cries of “No! No!” can be heard from the crowd)

Martin Luther King dedicated his life to love and to justice between fellow human beings. He died in the cause of that effort. In this difficult day, in this difficult time for the United States, it’s perhaps well to ask what kind of a nation we are and what direction we want to move in.

For those of you who are black – considering the evidence evidently is that there were white people who were responsible – you can be filled with bitterness, and with hatred, and a desire for revenge.

We can move in that direction as a country, in greater polarization – black people amongst blacks, and white amongst whites, filled with hatred toward one another. Or we can make an effort, as Martin Luther King did, to understand and to comprehend, and replace that violence, that stain of bloodshed that has spread across our land, with an effort to understand, compassion and love.

 

For those of you who are black and are tempted to be filled with hatred and mistrust of the injustice of such an act, against all white people, I would only say that I can also feel in my own heart the same kind of feeling. I had a member of my family killed, but he was killed by a white man.

But we have to make an effort in the United States, we have to make an effort to understand, to get beyond these rather difficult times.

My favorite poet was Aeschylus. He once wrote: “Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.”

What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence and lawlessness, but is love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or whether they be black.

(Interrupted by applause)

So I ask you tonight to return home, to say a prayer for the family of Martin Luther King, yeah that’s true, but more importantly to say a prayer for our own country, which all of us love – a prayer for understanding and that compassion of which I spoke. We can do well in this country. We will have difficult times. We’ve had difficult times in the past. And we will have difficult times in the future. It is not the end of violence; it is not the end of lawlessness; and it’s not the end of disorder.

But the vast majority of white people and the vast majority of black people in this country want to live together, want to improve the quality of our life, and want justice for all human beings that abide in our land.

(Interrupted by applause)

Let us dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world.

Let us dedicate ourselves to that, and say a prayer for our country and for our people. Thank you very much.”

 
Listen to the entire speech 6:12

The murder of MLK, Lorraine motel, Memphis
(The murder of MLK. Lorraine Motel, Memphis, TN. April 4, 1968.) 

PAIN WHICH CANNOT FORGET

Late that night, a sleepless, restless Kennedy was seen wandering the halls of his hotel alone. At 3 a.m., he knocked on the door of Joan Braden, an old friend who had also worked on JFK’s 1960 campaign. Bobby confided to her the true source of his agony.

“Joanie,” he said, “that could have been me.”

Two months later to the day Robert Kennedy was gunned down during a celebration following his victory in the California primary, June 4, 1968. He would die 26 hours later.

While it would be easy to look back after 40 years and dwell on 1968’s sorrows, its’ crippling series of tragedies, perhaps we should instead remember and take to heart Bobby Kennedy’s advice:

“Tragedy is a tool for the living to gain wisdom, not a guide by which to live.”

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

“And then I got into Memphis. And some began to say the threats, or talk about the threats that were out. What would happen to me from some of our sick white brothers?

Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn’t matter with me now, because I’ve been to the mountaintop.

And I don’t mind.

Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land.

I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!

And so I’m happy, tonight.

I’m not worried about anything.

I’m not fearing any man!

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord!!”

 

– Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s final sermon.

 Memphis, TN, April 3, 1968

 

 

Copyright RFKJrforPresident.com

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Caroline Kennedy is INNOCENT of Rumored Affair

Caroline with her husband of 22 years, Ed Schlossberg 

Caroline with her husband of 22 years, Ed Schlossberg

 DON’T BELIEVE THE HYPE

The New York Post is reporting today that NY Times publisher Pinch Sulzburger has a new girlfriend…and it’s not Caroline Kennedy.

Yet more proof that Governor Paterson and his PR flack, former Bush White House deputy press secretary Judy Smith (you know, the one who spread these damaging rumors to the media after Caroline dropped her bid for Hillary Clinton’s senate seat – what was that all about, anyway?) just can’t stop lying.

Here’s the full story, from Page Six:

January 29, 2009 –

CAROLINE Kennedy is innocent – she did not have an affair with New York Times publisher Arthur “Pinch” Sulzberger Jr. The rumor that their friendship was the “marriage problem” referred to by aides to Gov. Paterson couldn’t be true – because the divorced Sulzberger already has a girlfriend.

Sulzberger has been seeing Helen Ward, a vivacious woman he met on a trek to Peru about a year ago.

“No comment,” Ward told Page Six yesterday, then added, “There is only one woman in Pinch Sulzberger’s life, and that is the Gray Lady.”

A Times spokeswoman said: “Mr. Sulzberger is not and never has been romantically involved with Ms. Kennedy.” What about Ward? “I’m not going to comment.”

Caroline Kennedy has been married to interactive designer Edwin Schlossberg since 1986. They have three children. Sulzberger – who became the Times’ publisher when his father, Arthur “Punch” Sulzberger Sr., stepped down in 1992 – has been separated from his wife of 33 years, Gail Gregg, since last March.

Helen is also separated from her husband, Kevin P. Ward, executive director of the Aspen Science Center. A friend said Ward is unhappy with the breakup: “Kevin is crazy bitter about the whole thing.”

The Pinch-Helen romance seems to disprove the speculation that flourished after Paterson’s camp leaked that Caroline had “a tax problem, a nanny problem and a marriage problem.” Bloggers erroneously named Sulzberger, who is friends with Caroline, as the cause of the “marriage problem.”

As it happens, Helen has her own Kennedy connection. The Wards were said to be close friends with Caroline’s late brother, John, going back to the days when John was dating Daryl Hannah, and they all went on a trip out West to go helicopter skiing.

Glad we got that nasty rumor cleared up! And now that the supposed “nanny problems” and “tax problems” stories have also been proven false, can we please leave Caroline Kennedy the hell alone?

Here’s a better idea.

Instead, why don’t We the Media instead focus our coverage on why Governor Paterson engaged in a pay-for-play scheme to sell Hillary Clinton’s senate seat off to Kirsten Gillibrand (with a little help from her friends, including her heavyweight “sugar daddy” Al D’Amato?) instead of simply giving it to Kennedy for free?

If you thought Blago was bad, get a load of this. Now here’s a scandal the media can really sink their teeth into! 

Curiously, they don’t seem to be very hungry for pay-to-play scandals anymore after feasting on Blogojevich for the past two months. And besides, Blago’s got much better hair. 

Or is the mainstream media ignoring this story because it hits just a little too close to home, happening as it is right in their own backyard of New York state? Or could it be because their mega-media-corp owners’ names might be found on the list of Paterson’s campaign contributors?

Hmmmm.

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Pay-to-Play Scheme in NY Senate Seat Pick?

Senator-designate Kirsten Gillibrand (right) and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at a lunch meeting with New York Governor David Paterson at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City.

Senator-designate Kirsten Gillibrand (right) and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at a lunch meeting with New York Governor David Paterson at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City. Photo: Getty Images

 BLAGO AIN’T GOT NUTHIN’ ON THIS

Ever since Caroline Kennedy mysteriously withdrew her name from consideration for Hillary Clinton’s former U.S. Senate seat last Wednesday night, and Governor David Paterson’s surprise pick of Kirsten Gilibrand on Friday, many have wondered aloud: who the heck is Kirsten Gillibrand, and why did a Democratic governor choose a relatively unknown upstate Blue Dog whose voting record is more Republican than Democrat? 

Well, that’s a very good question to ask. Why did Paterson pick Gillibrand, when it seemed Kennedy was the obvious choice? And why did the Governor turn so nasty towards Caroline after she withdrew from the race? Why would he authorize one of his PR flacks (who, it turns out, is a former Bush White House staffer!) to “anonymously” kneecap Kennedy, spreading damaging stories to the press about Caroline’s supposed tax issues, nanny issues, and marital issues (stories Paterson now admits were totally false)?

The answer may not be in anything that Caroline did to piss off the Governor. It was what she didn’t do.

Here’s the REAL crux of the Paterson/Kennedy/Gillibrand senate seat story that the mainstream media won’t touch with a 10-foot pole…apparently becaue they’re all too busy flapping their lips about Blago and his really great hair:

Senate appointee Kirsten Gillibrand’ s former law firm is Boies, Schiller & Flexner.

David Boies, the senior partner at the firm, contributed $25,000 to Gov. Paterson’s campaign committee on December 23, 2008, while the governor was considering Gillibrand’s candidacy.

Boies’ son Chris, also a partner in the firm, contributed another $25,000 on the same day.

Source: The Village Voice (Jan. 22, 2009)

OK, go back and read that again. The timing of these campaign contributions reeks. Dec. 23, in the heat of the Senate seat competition?
Not TOO obvious, eh?
But wait…it gets better. Much, MUCH better. Read on.

THE MILLION-DOLLAR D’AMATO CONNECTION

This isn’t the first time Gov. Paterson’s engaged in a bit of pay for play and been called out. Less than two months after taking office, he had another little “issue” with a new hire in his press office, as reported by the New York Daily News’ Elizabeth Benjamin (who has been hot on the Governor’s heels over those nasty rumors he authorized his paid PR flack Judy Smith to leak “anonymously” about Caroline Kennedy).

Also, more info from the New York Times here on an “interesting” $3 million fundraiser Paterson held in December, while the senate seat contest was still hot. Check the guest list very, very carefully…

Then see this Village Voice article from Jan. 27, 2009 about the Paterson-Gillibrand-D’Amato connection, which reports that D’Amato gave Paterson a stunning $500k at a holiday party last year during the heat of the senate seat competition. That’s certainly enough money to buy D’Amato prime placement in the front row of Paterson’s press conference announcing Gillibrand as his senate pick…and perhaps it bought um….other things as well. (cough)

Here’s an excerpt from the Voice‘s investigative report which unravels the fascinating relationship between Gillibrand and D’Amato (it’s all in the family, baby!), and how the two came to be so strangely close to Governor Paterson:

“D’Amato wound up in the camera frame throughout the hour and a half press conference by design. Governor David Paterson’s staff kept the dignitaries in a holding room and walked them onto the stage in a prearranged order, positioning D’Amato at center stage, where his presence was a not-so-subtle advertisement of his influence with both the governor and the state’s new senator, a potential boon to Park Strategies, his multi-million dollar Washington and Albany lobbying business.

Gillibrand’s first job was as an intern for two summers in D’Amato’s senate office, and her father, Doug Rutnik, was so close to D’Amato that, while still married to Gillibrand’s mother, he covertly double-dated with the then single senator, squiring a D’Amato press aide on a two-week Caribbean tryst to celebrate the senator’s re-election in 1992…

…Because Rutnik’s ties to D’Amato, George Pataki, and the former GOP senate majority leader Joe Bruno are Albany legend, it was hardly a surprise that Gillibrand wanted D’Amato there. What no one could quite figure out is why Paterson did.

A Voice review, however, of two campaign finance committees–Paterson’s and the New York State Democratic Committee, which Paterson controls–reveals that D’Amato may be Paterson’s largest single fundraiser.

D’Amato hosted a $1,000-a-plate dinner for Paterson at the Coyote Grill in Island Park on November 2, and Paterson went to the Christmas party sponsored by D’Amato’s firm on December 10, and most of the $581,400 in contributions connected to D’Amato that the Voice has identified were given to Paterson’s committees near those two dates.”

YOU SAY TOMATO, I SAY D’AMATO

Now, let’s do the math, shall we?

More than $500,000 from the December holiday party, and at least $15,000 from the Coyote Grill fundraiser in November (based on an invitation list of 15 persons at $1,000 a plate), that’s a pretty good chunk of change, wouldn’t you say? And all of it raised by Uncle Al. No wonder he’s the governor’s new BFF!

While the $50,000 in contributions to Paterson from Gillibrand’s very close friends and former law partners on Dec. 23rd is not a huge amount in NY politics and is unlikely to buy anyone a state job, let alone a U.S. senate seat, more than half a million dollars from D’Amato should be enough to get *anybody’s* attention focused on Uncle Al’s longtime BFF Kirsten Gilibrand.

It certainly got Gov. Paterson’s attention.  

 

Hey, ya know, it may be cold and flu season in New York, but those figures are nothing to sneeze at.

And these are just the suspicious contributions we know about. There may be even more yet to be revealed. But adding up the estimated $15,000 from D’Amato’s November fundraiser, plus the whopping $500,000 from D’Amato’s December fundraiser (both lowball estimates, by the way), plus the $50,000 given by Gillibrand’s former law partners David and Chris Boies on Dec. 23 — puts a ballpark figure of nearly $600,000 in Paterson’s war chest.

Add to THAT all the smaller contributions from individuals and businesses raised by D’Amato for Patterson prior to those two fall fundraisers mentioned above (detailed here in the Voice’s excellent investigative piece), you’re looking at a Grand Total of well over a million dollars.

Cha-Ching! 

BLEEPIN’ GOLDEN

That being the case, wouldn’t this make Paterson guilty of doing the exact same thing that Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich is currently being accused of? And more blatantly than Blago would have ever dared? (Which is really sayin’ something, as Blago is anything but subtle!)

I can hear that phone call now:

PATERSON: “I’ve got this thing and it’s bleepin’ GOLDEN! I’m not just gonna give that bleepin’ senate seat away for nuthin’!”

At a press conference last month, noting that Blagojevich has been under investigation for years for pay-to-play corruption charges, U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald expressed his amazement that the activity would continue. “You might have thought in that environment, pay-to-play would have slowed down. The opposite happened. It sped up,” he said.

Apparently, no one warned Paterson to be careful since the heat was on. Or perhaps Paterson was warned and chose to arrogantly assume that he was ten feet tall and bulletproof. So far, Paterson seems to be. No one has even dared to raise a pay-to-play question regarding his senate pick…until now. So we’ll go ahead and ask a few questions:

Is it conceivable that Gov. Paterson got miffed at Caroline Kennedy because she was not willing to give him “anything but appreciation” for that Senate seat?

Could it be that Kennedy was too smart (and principled) to grease the Governor’s eager palms and potentially get herself embroiled in an explosive political corruption case? And did the Governor get pissed off because Caroline wisely stood her ground, held on to her integrity, and turned the other cheek?

CAROLINE WOULDN’T PLAY BALL

From our initial investigation, we can find no evidence of any campaign contributions given to Paterson by Kennedy or anyone connected with her.

Caroline is well-known for her avoidance of making financial contributions to New York Dems in local races, and this New York Daily News article from December 25, 2008 (curiously published just two days after friends of Gillibrand gave the Guv $50,000) flat-out states that Kennedy’s unwillingness to “play the game” may cost her the senate seat:

Caroline Kennedy’s supporters say she could raise tons of money as a senator, but when it comes to writing checks to New York Democrats, she’s been largely AWOL.

This decade, other than a $1,000 donation to City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, the Camelot heiress has not financially supported any Democrat seeking city or state office in New York, records reveal.

Some say Kennedy, who is worth at least $100 million, missed an opportunity to curry favor among Democratic pols to establish herself as a serious political player as she lobbies Gov. Paterson for Hillary Clinton’s Senate seat.

NONE DARE CALL IT CORRUPTION

Starting to see what’s really going on here? Gillibrand was willing to pay-to-play (with a little help from her “sugar daddy” D’Amato) and Kennedy was not. A million-dollar payoff to the Guv’s campaign fund was cash she wasn’t willing to pony, Macaroni.

Therefore, Gillibrand got the gig. It ain’t rocket science, folks. Just politics as usual.

Only difference this time is that the Governor of Illinois is being impeached for even suggesting (although not completing) such a transaction, while Paterson (who apparently did complete the transaction) is skating away like Tonya Harding. The local New York and national media plugs their ears and hums a tune, refusing to investigate any suggestion of Blago-type graft and corruption happening here. They hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil.

Thanks to the Kansas City Star for pointing out an issue that both the New York Post and New York Times heartily agree on — that NY governor David Paterson is now officially Worse than Blagojevich after the media circus that surrounded his naming a replacement for the Senate seat left vacant by Hillary Clinton. But still, that’s as far as the media is prepared to go. None dare call it corruption.

Hmmm…wonder if anyone has been tapping Paterson’s phone during this senate contest? They were certainly listening to Gov. Spitzer’s calls in an effort to catch him in a liason with a high-priced hooker. Seems to me the authorities might have wanted to keep an eye/ear on Gov. Paterson during this selection process, especially in light of the Blago scandal. Under those circumstances, a case could easily be made for probable cause.

So WHERE ARE THE PATERSON TAPES? And where’s the investigation? Where’s the outrage? Where’s the impeachment?

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