Tag Archives: New York politics

NY Gov. Confirms Staffer Leaked Caroline Dirt — And Gets To Keep Her Job!

PATERSON: “I’M NOT THROWING ANYBODY UNDER THE BUS”

* This just in from the Hey-I-Know-The-Economy’s-Tough-But-This-Is-Ridiculous Dept.:

Judy Smith, the former BUSH WHITE HOUSE STAFFER and paid PR flack for Gov. David Paterson, is not only responsible for leaking those nasty rumors about Caroline Kennedy, the governor now says Smith gets to keep her job! For reasons that still mystify, it seems Gov. Patterson doesn’t plan to take any disciplinary action against the Guv’s now-infamous “leaker.”

If there’s any good news in this story, it is that Paterson may now be facing an investigation by the Public Integrity Committee over the leaking incident, on the grounds that Mrs. Kennedy’s privacy rights were violated. We’ll take it a step further and ask Albany to investigate whether or not some kind of pay-to-play scheme was a factor in the Governor’s choice for Hillary Clinton’s senate seat.

Dammit, where’s Patrick Fitzgerald and a wiretap when you really need one?

Story from the Associated Press below:

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Gov. David Paterson’s revelation that he is responsible for a campaign staffer who leaked unproven personal accusations about Caroline Kennedy after she withdrew from Senate consideration could lead to a state privacy investigation, experts said Wednesday.

The Democratic governor wouldn’t name the staffer. He said he’ll keep the consultant on his campaign payroll.

The claims surfaced just after Kennedy abruptly withdrew from Paterson’s secretive selection process to fill Hillary Rodham Clinton’s New York Senate seat. The anonymous leaker said Kennedy “wasn’t ready for prime time” and faced possible tax, nanny and marital problems.

Asked if the campaign staffer, identified a week ago by The Daily News as consultant Judith Smith, acted alone or as part of a broader effort to discredit Kennedy, Paterson said: “I’m not going to go into those kinds of conversations. Any involvement with what my staff does is my fault because to do something like that, people working for you should know better. … I’m just going to tell you the responsibility is ultimately mine.”

Smith is still on the campaign payroll.

“She’s still retained,” Paterson said to questions about the fate of Smith, a top communications strategist. “I’m not throwing anybody under the bus.”

He wouldn’t confirm or deny whether Smith directed the leak of unsubstantiated claims.

If the person who leaked the unsubstantiated claims on Jan. 22 got the information from confidential questionnaires Paterson asked every Senate hopeful to complete, then it could violate the state personal privacy protection law, said Robert Freeman, executive director of the state Committee on Open Government.

The state Public Integrity Commission has jurisdiction over a similar measure in the state Public Officers Law that bars state employees from disclosing confidential information. Commission spokesman Walter Ayres wouldn’t comment on whether an investigation into the Kennedy leak has been requested or started by the commission.

“I think the issue is worthy of review by the Commission on Public Integrity,” said Blair Horner of the New York Public Interest Research Group, a government watchdog.

Paterson has refused to release the candidates’ questionnaires, or even a blank one, which good-government experts have said is an apparent violation of the state Freedom of Information Law. Paterson has maintained the leaked information wasn’t taken from the confidential questionnaire.

After more than a week of denying he was involved in the leak, Paterson told reporters Tuesday that he is responsible for the actions of his employees.

Republican state Sen. Martin Golden said the case should be investigated.

“At the very least, (the staffer) should resign,” he said Wednesday.

Golden said he’s unsure there is any “criminality” to warrant an investigation like the one launched by Republicans in 2007 when aides to former Gov. Eliot Spitzer were accused of misusing state police to provide and recreate travel records to embarrass then-Senate Republican leader, Joseph Bruno.

Republicans lost control of the majority and the Senate Investigations Committee in the November elections. The Democrat-controlled Senate Investigations Committee has no plans to investigate, a spokesman said.

4 Comments

Filed under caroline kennedy, election 2008, hillary clinton, jackie kennedy, JFK, JFK Jr., John F. Kennedy, john f. kennedy jr., media, politics, president kennedy, robert f. kennedy, robert kennedy jr., senator robert kennedy, the kennedys, Uncategorized

Op-Ed: Tune in Tomorrow For Another Episode Of…”All My (Kennedy) Children”

Barack Obama and caroline Kennedy

Caroline Kennedy campaigns with Sen. Barack Obama, April 21, 2008.

2008 “ALL MY (KENNEDY) CHILDREN” YEAR IN REVIEW

Well, it sure has been an action-packed year for the Kennedys. 2008 brought us the election of Barack Obama, a man many Kennedy family members believe will be a President like John F. Kennedy.

In the early primary season, the Kennedys split down the middle between Obama and Hillary Clinton. Watching the squabble over endorsements certainly kept the pundits busy during the winter months. The media’s constant comparisons of Obama to JFK resulted in increased awareness of the Kennedys and an encouraging resurgence of interest amongst members of a generation too young to have any firsthand memories of him.

But in May, the golden glow of “a return to Camelot” was dimmed by the tragic news that Sen. Edward Kennedy had been diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. The Mighty Teddy was suddenly rendered vulnerable before our eyes; his illness a poignant reminder that the last surviving Kennedy brother can’t stay with us indefinitely.

This year also marked two other sad anniversaries for the family: 45 years since the assassination of President Kennedy, and 40 years since Senator Robert Kennedy’s murder.

But we’d like to focus your attention on another important event which passed without much fanfare this year.

On the last day of 2008, it is interesting to “flashback” now and read this article (dated June 4) again. What a critical turning point moment it turned out to be in such a historic election year, although we didn’t fully grasp it’s future importance at the time.

Let’s rewind and take a closer look with some hindsight, shall we?

The news of Caroline heading up Obama’s VP search team came on June 4th, the 40th anniversary of former NY senator Robert Kennedy’s assassination. (Curious timing, that.)

As fate (or the voters) would have it, the current occupant of that same senate seat – Hillary Clinton – announced her campaign was over on June 4th. (Although in truth, her campaign really ended two weeks earlier, thanks to a tasteless and ill-timed remark she made about the RFK assassination which RFK Jr. defended, incidentally.)

Clinton’s “I’m out of the race” announcement finally came, curiously enough, in perfect synchronicity with Obama’s Veep committee announcement.  Within a matter of hours, in fact. Smell test, anyone?

At the time, of course, everyone whispered “back room deal!” Clinton loyalists scrambled to explain why their candidate, who had famously vowed to stay in the race until the bitter end, ultimately decided otherwise: “Hillary is only giving up her campaign because she’s angling for …the Vice Presidency!”

Well, that didn’t happen, but  the series of events to follow unfolded in a most unexpected and even puzzling way:

The persistent political rumor this year was that RFK Jr. endorsed Hillary because he wanted to reclaim his father’s senate seat.  As many of our readers will recall from past coverage, that endorsement didn’t go over so well with the party’s liberal base. To say the very least.

Meanwhile, Caroline, Teddy, et al…suddenly jumped off the Clintons Good Ship Lollypop and got on board Obama’s Soul Train, Bound For Glory.

By November, another sudden turn…now Obama is the President-elect, Hillary is offered SoS, and Bobby Jr. ….WHAT?…takes his name out of the running for that senate seat he’s always wanted? Days later, RFK issues the stunning statement that he will not accept that rumored cabinet appointment at EPA, either. Really?

The mind boggles.

Then, the plot twist to end all plot twists; out of nowhere comes cousin Caroline, who never expressed the slightest desire in holding elected office…and now she wants Hillary’s senate seat?

Kennedy with Sen. Clinton on the campaign trail in New Hampshire earlier this year

In Happier Days: RFK Jr. with Hillary on the campaign trail in New Hampshire, January, 2008

SOAPDISH

So what’s the real deal, you may ask? What kind of political backslappin’ and palm-greasin’ is REALLY going on behind the scenes? And who writes this stuff? It’s a soap opera, I tell ya: “All My (Kennedy) Children”!

I actually heard a pretty logical theory today from a friend of mine, and I’m not so inclined to disagree with his take on things. Tends to explain a hell of a lot, really. Here’s the logic tree he followed, and his inevitable conclusion:

- Hillary offered to “help” RFK Jr. get  the NY senate seat in return for *his* endorsement if she won.
- Obama offered to “help” Caroline get the same senate seat in return for *her* endorsement, if he won.
- Once it became clear that Hillary had lost the nomination, she made a deal with Obama to just go quietly…in return for consideration as VP or a very high level cabinet position…and for “help” paying off her campaign debts. (Who’s your Sugar Daddy, baby?)
- Once it became clear that Obama had the nomination cinched in early June, he brought Caroline onto his VP search committee to “help” prepare her for bigger things ahead, and….

Six months later - ba-da-bing! – whaddyaknow, Hillary’s leaving the senate for the promised cabinet post, RFK Jr. (who backed the wrong horse in this race) is out in the proverbial cold, and Caroline is a shoo-in for the promised Senate seat.

Whew, ya got all that?

Okay, now just don’t say anything to Blago about this wild conspiracy theory. He might just get some crazy idea in his head about how to sell (cough!)…ahem, excuse me, I mean FILL Obama’s vacant senate seat…;)

What 2009 has in store for the Kennedys, for the Obamas, indeed for us all, is anybody’s guess. But the new season of “All My (Kennedy) Children” starts this week, and it’s not to be missed. (Cue cheesy organ music here…)

PROMO SCRIPT FOR “ALL MY (KENNEDY) CHILDREN” – Week of January 5, 2009

V/O: OVERBEARING ANNOUNCER

Will Caroline easily get the NY Senate appointment?

Or will she be matched against her former in-law Andrew Cuomo (the plot thickens!) Who would Kerry Kennedy be campaigning for?

Will Hillary Clinton pass the test for Secretary of State in her Senate confirmation hearings?

And what of Bobby Jr.? If he’s not serving in President Obama’s cabinet or filling a vacant senate seat, what will he do next?”

Tune in tomorrow for another episode of “All My (Kennedy) Children”…

5 Comments

Filed under barack obama, caroline kennedy, election 2008, hillary clinton, John F. Kennedy, media, politics, president kennedy, RFK, RFK Jr., robert f. kennedy, robert kennedy jr., senator robert kennedy, the kennedys, Uncategorized

“This Is A Time When No One Can Afford To Sit Out” – Caroline Kennedy

The Rev. Al Sharpton, left, and Caroline Kennedy have lunch ...

NEW YORK – The Rev. Al Sharpton took Caroline Kennedy to lunch Thursday at a famed Harlem soul food restaurant as she continued her quest to join her uncle in the U.S. Senate. Kennedy smiled as she and the civil rights activist made their way through a throng of media and into Sylvia’s, whose walls are lined with photographs of visiting politicians including the Clintons.

“I come at this as a mother, as a lawyer, as an author, as an education advocate and from a family that really has spent generations in public service,” Kennedy told reporters after lunch. “I feel this commitment, and this is a time when nobody can afford to sit out. And I hope that I have something to offer.”

The late President John F. Kennedy’s daughter acknowledged Wednesday she’s seeking to be appointed to the Senate seat held by Hillary Rodham Clinton, who has been nominated by President-elect Barack Obama to be secretary of state.

Kennedy was asked what she would need to do to prepare herself for the post, which has attracted the interest of at least a dozen Democratic officials including her former relative by marriage, state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo.

“I have, you know, quite a lot to learn, but I feel like I bring a lot with me, as well,” Kennedy said.

She was also asked why she was plunging into politics now, after spending most of her life carefully cultivating her privacy.

“These are issues that I care so much about and I understand that, really, I have been trying to work on them as a private citizen and in the position that I have,” she said. “But really, to solve our problems, I think government is the place where people need to come together.”

Kennedy’s emergence as a contender has generated both buzz and controversy. She comes from a Democratic dynasty but has never held public office, and some Republicans and Democrats have criticized her lack of experience.

Democratic Gov. David Paterson has said he won’t make an appointment until Clinton is confirmed. The governor confirmed Kennedy’s interest in the seat on Monday, the same day she reached out to Sharpton in a telephone call.

After speaking to Kennedy, Sharpton released a statement saying he disagreed with those who say she isn’t qualified to be U.S. senator.

He said he had invited her to dine wtih him at Sylvia’s this week, reminding her that he took Obama there during his campaign “so it’s a good luck stop since he did all right.”

1 Comment

Filed under barack obama, caroline kennedy, election 2008, hillary clinton, jackie kennedy, JFK, JFK Jr., John F. Kennedy, media, politics, president kennedy, RFK, RFK Jr., robert f. kennedy, robert kennedy jr., senator robert kennedy, the kennedys, Uncategorized

Caroline? Sweet.

CAROLINE KENNEDY TOSSES HER HAT OVER THE WALL

…AND HAS NO CHOICE BUT TO FOLLOW IT

“Frank O’Connor, the Irish writer, tells in one of his books how, as a boy, he and his friends would make their way across the countryside, and when they came to an orchard wall that seemed too high and too doubtful to try and too difficult to permit their voyage to continue, they took off their hats and tossed them over the wall–and then they had no choice but to follow them.”

– President John F. Kennedy

San Antonio, TX. November 21, 1963

Caroline Kennedy is going for it.

Gov. Paterson said Kennedy called him Monday to formally ask to be considered for the U.S. Senate seat that will open up when Hillary Clinton becomes Secretary of State.

Paterson, who will make the two-year pick, said Kennedy wants to “to tell me what she thinks her qualifications are.”

The governor spoke to Kennedy about the seat on Dec. 3, but wasn’t sure if she was serious or just dipping a toe in the water.

Although Paterson has the only say, Kennedy has reached out to some of the state’s top Democrats, including U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan).

Kennedy also was calling many in the state’s congressional delegation and others such as Time Warner Chairman Richard Parsons and Schools Chancellor Joel Klein, with whom she has worked.

Klein said Kennedy spent the last week giving serious thought about the position, how it would affect her family and the fact that she would have to run for election in 2010 and reelection in 2012. “She’s clearly ready and sort of making sure people know she’s willing to do the hard work that’s necessary,” he said.

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan) said Kennedy called her Monday to say “she’s excited about the race and she’s ready to roll up her sleeves.” While saying they won’t publicly back a candidate, Quinn and a host of others cited Kennedy’s credentials as a public education advocate and her life as a lawyer and constitutional scholar.

“She is in,” a top Dem source said. “I don’t see how he [Paterson] says no. He has to do it.”

Kennedy, who has said nothing to the press, has gotten warm praise from President-elect Barack Obama and Mayor Bloomberg, but has also been the subject of criticism from Clinton supporters who say she lacks the experience to be a U.S. senator.

“We don’t know if Caroline has that fire in the belly,” Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-Queens, Brooklyn) said outside a Clinton fund-raiser last night. “Being senator of New York is a 2-4/7, 365-day-a-year endeavor.”

The Rev. Al Sharpton, who spoke yesterday with Kennedy, said he “unequivocally disagrees” with the criticism. “Elected office is not the only area of public service that establishes leadership in this country,” Sharpton said.

Clinton spokesman Philippe Reines said the senator will not be weighing in on the debate.

“This is entirely Gov. Paterson’s decision,” he said.

Kennedy is the daughter of the late President John F. Kennedy and niece to the late Robert F. Kennedy, who once held the seat she is seeking. Known for her shyness, she’s spent most of her adult life out of the public spotlight.

One person who worked with her at the city Education Department said, “I never thought this is something she would be interested in.”

Kennedy has hired a political consulting firm tied to Schumer and Bloomberg and The News has learned she may soon embark on a quasi-”listening tour” upstate – just as Clinton once did.

Her family, particularly her uncle Sen. Edward Kennedy, was pushing her to go for the seat. Many say Edward Kennedy wants to ensure that the decades-long tradition of having a Kennedy in the Senate continues.

Her cousin Robert F. Kennedy Jr. was thrilled to hear the news, saying she immediately becomes the favorite to replace Clinton.

“You’d immediately have someone in the Senate who everyone wants to work with and who has a winning personality,” he said.

Citing her work with Obama, who calls Caroline Kennedy “one of my dearest friends,” RFK Jr. noted the value of having a freshman senator “with direct access to the President and to thebiggest political names in the Senate.”

Asked about the criticism, he said, “It’s New York. It’s politics. Nobody is going to waltz in … without being criticized.”

Paterson will make his decision after Clinton is confirmed.

Rep. Pete King (R-L.I.), who has announced he’ll run for the seat in 2010, said he expects Kennedy to be Paterson’s choice.

“It makes me more inclined to run than ever,” he said.

“The senator from New York should be someone with a record of fighting for New York and who understands the problems and issues of middle-income and working people.”

Story from U.S. News and World Report

With Glenn Blain and Kenneth R. Bazinet

3 Comments

Filed under barack obama, election 2008, hillary clinton, jackie kennedy, JFK, JFK Jr., John F. Kennedy, john f. kennedy jr., media, politics, president kennedy, RFK, RFK Jr., robert f. kennedy, robert kennedy jr., senator robert kennedy, texas, the kennedys, Uncategorized

Kennedy Unlikely to Seek EPA Post

STRIKE TWO!

Looks like Mr. Kennedy won't be going to Washington anytime soon

Looks like Mr. Kennedy won't be going to Washington

Less than a month ago, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. told the Huffington Post in response to rumors that he might be tapped to run President Obama’s EPA or Interior Department, “if asked, I will serve.”

Well, it seems that something has changed since then. Either he wasn’t asked, or was asked and after weighing the various options and potential consequences, decided that a cabinet post is not in his future.

Today, the NY Daily News is reporting that if asked, Kennedy most likely will not serve after all:

- Robert Kennedy Jr. sounds like he’s definitely taking himself out of the running for head of the Environmental Protection Agency. “I have six mouths to feed,” the eco-crusader told us at Monday’s Waterkeeper Alliance/Conde Nast soiree, where James Blunt performed. “But I’d love to be involved with anything the Obama administration does.”

Kennedy told the crowd he’s now “driving a Lexus hybrid. My daughters said it’s the first grown-up car I’ve had.”

So that, apparently, settles that! Looks like Mr. Kennedy won’t be going to Washington this year. Or next.

But what about that senate seat? Ever since President-elect Obama announced Hillary Clinton as his nominee for secretary of state on Monday, speculation has run rampant as to whether or not Kennedy would be appointed to fill out her term of office in the senate. But no, it appears he doesn’t want that gig, either. 

JUST SAY NO

Yesterday, RFK Jr. telephoned New York governor David Paterson and asked that his name be removed from the list of potential appointees. Considering that he has often expressed a strong desire to reclaim the senate seat once held by his father, the reaction to Kennedy’s announcement has been a mix of surprise and disappointment among his many faithful supporters.

The push for Kennedy as Clinton’s replacement was strong; there was even a short-lived Facebook group organized to promote RFK Jr. for the Senate (Kennedy was the only contender to have such support).

But Kennedy isn’t alone in his mad dash for the sidelines. He’s got good company on the bench. On Monday, Nita Lowey (D-Westchester), once considered a prime choice, withdrew her name from consideration. And on Tuesday, former president Bill Clinton announced that he was “not interested” in occupying his wife’s senate seat when/if it becomes available. So that’s three down, hundreds more hopefuls to go.

New York governor Paterson says he will wait to name Clinton’s replacement until after she leaves the U.S. senate, which would be next January if Hillary’s cabinet nomination is confirmed by her senate colleagues. 

Kennedy supporters shouldn’t despair too much. There’s still Caroline! While the martyred president’s daughter has always wisely eschewed a political career, the possibility that she might be under serious consideration to fill Clinton’s senate seat appears to be more than just talk. Even RFK Jr. sang her praises yesterday (while at the same time, withdrawing his own name) as a worthy contender for the job.

Earlier, it was suggested that Caroline might be named as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, but that idea was squelched a few days ago when Obama announced his foreign policy advisor, Susan Rice, as the nominee.

So that frees up Caroline Kennedy to do something else. Her appointment to Clinton’s senate seat would certainly present an interesting dynamic and plenty of drama. After many years of having a close relationship with the Clintons, Caroline shocked the world when she switched teams to support Senator Obama during the 2008 primary election season. I rather doubt that has been forgotten by the Clintons.

18 Comments

Filed under barack obama, climate change, election 2008, environment, global warming, hillary clinton, JFK, JFK Jr., John F. Kennedy, john f. kennedy jr., media, politics, president kennedy, RFK, RFK Jr., robert f. kennedy, robert kennedy jr., senator robert kennedy, the kennedys