Tag Archives: U.S. Senator New York State

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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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”…

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“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.”

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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

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Poll: How Can RFK Jr. Serve America?

HOW MAY HE HELP YOU?

Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

We want to know your thoughts — how do you think Robert F. Kennedy Jr. can best serve his country in the years ahead?

We’ve posted a poll at our sister site, RFKJrNews.com, on this very question. Please take a moment to vote and share your thoughts here:

http://rfkjrnews.com/2008/12/06/poll-how-can-rfk-jr-best-serve-our-country/

Depite some news reports to the contrary this week, Bobby has not yet made a decision. As of Wednesday, Kennedy told me that he was  “weighing offers now,” and on Thursday he responded to an audience member’s question in Berkeley, California, by saying he still hadn’t made up his mind.

“I have spent a lot of time talking with my family about whether it would be better for me to wait until the second term,” he said to applause and cheers from the audience.

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RFK Jr. Says Cousin Caroline is “Interested” in NY Senate Seat

REPLACE HILLARY WITH CAROLINE?

Caroline with Obama on the campaign trail

Caroline with Obama on the campaign trail

WASHINGTON (AP) – Caroline Kennedy is interested in the Senate seat that would open once Hillary Rodham Clinton becomes secretary of state, according to a close relative who says the powerful Kennedy clan is fully behind her rising to the office previously held by her uncle.

“I know she’s interested,” Robert F. Kennedy Jr. told The Associated Press in a telephone interview Friday. “She spent a lot of her life balancing public service with obligations to her family. Now her children are grown, and she is ready to move onto a bigger stage.”

Once Clinton is confirmed to President-elect Barack Obama’s cabinet, New York Gov. David Paterson will appoint someone to fill the seat for two years.

The Kennedy family’s connections and history cannot force Paterson to choose Caroline, but the family’s strong support could make it difficult for him not to.

Robert Kennedy said the family would come out en masse for her if she does get the appointment and has to run for election in 2010.

“If she runs, you will see more Kennedys than you have ever seen in your life,” he said.

An environmental lawyer who took himself out of consideration for the Senate seat earlier this week, Robert Kennedy said he has spoken to his cousin about the position and is one of “many, many people” urging her to seek it.

He also offered a policy rationale for her in the role: education.

“She’s probably one of the leading advocates in the nation on public education. She feels a lot of the issues she’s worked on are in danger of being shunted aside because of the economic crisis,” he said.

Democrats said Caroline Kennedy and Paterson have already spoken about the Senate seat, and she is interested.

After two New York Democrats said Kennedy and the governor are expected to meet privately to discuss the matter Saturday, the governor’s spokesman said they do not have a meeting planned.

Many hoped that one of these little guys might one day occupy their father's U.S. Senate seat

Many hoped that one of these little guys might one day occupy their father's U.S. Senate seat, but RFK Jr. (L) withdrew his name from consideration earlier this week.

Caroline Kennedy is the daughter of President John F. Kennedy and a niece of brothers Edward and Robert. Robert Kennedy held the New York seat from 1965 until his assassination in 1968. Edward Kennedy has been a senator from Massachusetts since 1963.

As a prominent member of the Kennedy clan, Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg is the kind of high-profile, historic figure who could overshadow many other New York politicians hoping to be Paterson’s choice.

The governor has said he is in no rush to make a decision, and Clinton is not giving up the seat before she is confirmed as President-elect Barack Obama’s secretary of state.

“The governor has not yet reached out to any potential candidates,” said Paterson’s spokesman, Errol Cockfield. “He has been approached by several candidates. Any discussions related to that selection are private and the governor will not comment about speculation before a decision is made.”

Whoever Paterson appoints would serve for two years and then have to run in a special election in 2010, along with Paterson and New York’s senior senator, Charles Schumer. The candidate would then have to run again in 2012.

Kennedy has strong connections to incoming Obama administration officials – though Obama transition spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter insisted they were not involved in any way with the search for the next U.S. senator from New York.

As a prominent booster of Barack Obama’s presidential bid, Kennedy spent much of 2008 taking bigger steps onto the public stage.

As famous as she is, she always has been viewed as almost painfully shy. She does not like talking about herself, nor does she appreciate those who do.

She met her husband, Edwin Schlossberg, while working at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. They married in 1986 and have three children.

She made a splash in early 2008 by writing an op-ed column for The New York Times declaring her support for Obama, saying he had the potential to be as inspirational to Americans as her father was in the 1960s. She also spoke at the Democratic National Convention.

She then hit the campaign trail with Obama, and worked on the vice-presidential search that eventually settled on Joe Biden.

Caroline Kennedy is easily the most famous contender for Clinton’s Senate seat, but there are plenty of others. New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo is widely known in the state. Paterson could also pick Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown or Tom Suozzi, a Long Island elected official.

RFK Jr. may have taken himself out of the running for his father’s old senate seat, and earlier this week stated that he most likely would not serve as Director of the EPA if asked. But that doesn’t mean he’s ruled out working in an Obama administration altogether. Kennedy told a crowd in Berkeley, California Thursday that he still hadn’t made up his mind. In response to an audience question, he said: 

“I have spent a lot of time talking with my family about whether it would be better for me to wait until the second term,” he said to applause and cheers from the audience.

 

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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.

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