Tag Archives: New York Governor

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


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.


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.”


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.



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?


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.


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?



Filed under barack obama, caroline kennedy, 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, the kennedys, Uncategorized

NY Gov. Spitzer Caught in a Honey Trap

Mel Brooks in

Mel Brooks in blazing SaddlesEliot Spitzer's press conference today

New York Governor Eliot Spitzer at today’s embarassing press conference. Silda, Spitzer’s wife of 21 years, puts on a brave-but-unamused face and stands by his side. AP photo.


With the bombshell news breaking late today that New York Governor Eliot Spitzer has been implicated in a prostitution ring, the Democratic politician will now forever be known as “Client 9,” one of the johns described in a recently unsealed FBI affidavit detailing the operation of the Emperors Club, an international call girl ring.

The FBI wiretap captured a man identified as Client 9 on a telephone call confirming plans to have a woman travel from New York to Washington on Feb. 13, where he had reserved a hotel room, according to an affidavit filed in federal court in Manhattan. The person briefed on the case and the law enforcement official identified Mr. Spitzer as Client 9.

Mr. Spitzer, a first term Democrat, today made a brief public appearance during which he apologized for his behavior, and described it as a “private matter.” He did not address his political future.

“I have acted in a way that violates my obligation to my family and violates my or any sense of right or wrong,” said Mr. Spitzer, who appeared with his wife Silda at his Manhattan office. “I apologize first and most importantly to my family. I apologize to the public to whom I promised better.”

“I have disappointed and failed to live up to the standard I expected of myself. I must now dedicate some time to regain the trust of my family.”

Before speaking, Mr. Spitzer stood with his arm around his wife; the two nodded and then strode forward together to face more than 100 reporters. Both had glassy, tear-filled eyes, but they did not cry.

As he went to leave, three reporters called out, “Are you resigning? Are you resigning?”, and Mr. Spitzer charged out of the room, slamming the door.


The man described as Client 9 in the affidavit arranged to meet with a call girl who was part of the ring, Emperors Club VIP. The tryst was scheduled, ironically enough, for the night before Valentine’s Day.

The affidavit says that Client 9 met with the woman in hotel room 871 but does not identify the hotel. Mr. Spitzer stayed at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington on Feb. 13, according to a source who was told of his travel arrangements. Room 871 at the Mayflower Hotel that evening was registered under the name George Fox.

The law enforcement official said that several people running the prostitution ring knew Mr. Spitzer by the name of George Fox, though a few of the prostitutes came to realize he was the governor of New York.

Mr. Fox is a friend and donor to Mr. Spitzer. Asked in a telephone interview Monday whether he accompanied Mr. Spitzer to Washington on Feb. 13 and Feb. 14, Mr. Fox responded: “Why would you think that? I did not.”

Told that the Room 871 at the Renaissance Mayflower Hotel was registered in Mr. Fox’s name but with Mr. Spitzer’s Fifth Avenue address, Mr. Fox said, “That is the first I have heard of it. Until I speak to the governor further, I have no comment.”

Elizabeth Taylor in

When asked by Gov. Spitzer to remind him “what she looks like,” Emperor’s Club VIP described his lady of the evening as being “American, about five-foot-five, 105 lbs., a petite, pretty brunette.” Is it just me, or is this story starting to sound like the classic Elizabeth Taylor film “Butterfield 8”?


Upon reading the initial reports, you might be inclined to call Governor Spitzer an idiot for being so indiscreet in the first place. Or for using his friend’s name to make arrangements with an escort service without that friend’s apparent knowledge. You could call him a philanderer, since it appears he does regular business with the escort agency in question. You could call him a hypocrite for holding himself up as a crusader for law and order in public while engaging in illegal activity privately.

But there’s one thing you can’t call the man: a cheapskate.

Considering the upscale fees charged by the Emperor’s Club for the pleasure of their model/companion’s “company,” it is clear that the Governor has expensive tastes and prefers champagne to beer. And why not? He can certainly afford it as a rich New York lawyer with oodles of old family money to play with — assuming the funds for this illicit transaction came from his own personal bank account.

That being said, it will be interesting to follow the money trail as the investigation progresses. Then we may just find out how stupid this guy really is.

In he meantime, his defenders can always say he’s doing his part to “stimulate” the “sagging” economy with a “package” designed to help single mothers and beautiful young women in his state.

As described in the FBI document, Client 9 (a repeat customer with an account on file at the agency) apparently went to great lengths to arrange his Washington encounter, choosing to mail money in advance, instead of using a credit card. Client 9, whose conversations were recorded by an FBI wiretap, would not do “traditional wire transferring,” the affidavit quotes one Emperors Club employee remarking.

Documents reveal that Client 9 would be sending cash through the mail in an envelope with no return address, “just like before.” (Nevermind that every state attorney general’s office in the land sternly warns consumers to never send cash in the mail. Apparently, Spitzer forgot he was a former attorney general, but that tends to happen when one is thinking with the wrong head…) The “package,” as the money envelope is referred to in phone conversations and text messages, was delayed in arriving, causing some considerable discontent with the escort agency’s owners.

Representatives from Emperor’s Club had to contact Client 9 several times to ask if he’d sent the “package” yet, basically letting him know he didn’t have enough credit on his account to “cover” the scheduled appointment. Client 9 assured them that the money was en route, and that he would also pay all travel expenses for the young lady, identified by the name “Kristen.”

Only problem was, Client 9 didn’t follow through with the money he had repeatedly promised to the escort service until the day of the scheduled “date” – actually, the money for her services arrived just 30 minutes prior to her scheduled departure on an Amtrak train from New York to Washington – and even then, the amount apparently wasn’t quite correct. (Maybe “Fiscal Responsibility” is not the Governor’s strongest suit?)

This prompted more phone calls back and forth between the agency and Client 9, making arrangements for him to pay the remainder of the call girl’s fee in cash that night, plus a “deposit” towards future engagements with the agency “to avoid payment issues in the future” and “so that we don’t have to go through this again.”

From the recorded conversations, it’s clear that the Emperor’s Club already felt they had a problem client on their hands here. The agency was obviously concerned that “Mr. Fox” was not good for the fee, even if he was a frequent flier. And it is also readily apparent that he had previously been identified by the agency as a “difficult” client. In EscortSpeak, that generally means the client was either rough, abusive, asked for unsafe sex, or didn’t pay up.

Additionally, the affidavit notes that after her appointment with Client-9 ended, “Kristen” spoke with a Emperors Club booker, who said that she had been told that Client-9 “would ask you to do things that, like, you might not think were safe…”

“Kristen” responded by saying, essentially, that she was a professional and knew how to handle guys like that. But “Kristen” reported back to the agency that she “liked him,” didn’t think he was “difficult,” and overall she thought the date had gone “very well.”

She also told the agency booker that she had collected $4,300 in cash from Client 9, more than enough to settle his balance due plus a comfy deposit towards the next visit. (Uh, somehow I rather doubt there will be a “next time”…that’s money he’ll never see again.) 

Mel Brooks and robyn Hilton in blazing Saddles

Mel Brooks as the Governor in “Blazing Saddles”

He rode a blazing saddle
He wore a shining star
His job to offer battle
To bad men near and far
He conquered fear and he conquered hate
He turned our night into day
He made his blazing saddle
A torch to light the way
When outlaws ruled the West
And fear filled the land
A cry went up for a man with guts
To take the West in hand
They needed a man who was brave and true
With justice for all as his aim
Then out of the sun rode a man with a gun
And Bart was his name
Yes Bart was his neme

“Blazing Saddles” theme song. Lyrics by Mel Brooks, vocal by Frankie Laine


The real irony of this story, of course, is that Eliot Spitzer was propelled to fame in New York politics through his reputation as a crusading reformer, a “law and order” man who put criminals behind bars. Even before becoming Governor, he had let the bad guys know there was a new Sheriff in town — and they had better watch out.

As Attorney General of New York State, he had successfully prosecuted cases against (wait for it!)…prositution rings, strongly denouncing the world’s oldest profession in his public statements.

Spitzer, 48, served as New York’s attorney general for eight years before being elected governor in a landslide victory (he won 70% of the vote). Time magazine named him “Crusader of the Year” during his two terms as New York attorney general.

Tabloids labeled him “Eliot Ness,” after the hero in the crime drama “The Untouchables,” because of his reputation for rooting out corruption, busting white-collar criminals and tackling organized crime.

He also worked as an assistant district attorney in Manhattan and worked for three New York law firms after receiving his law degree from Harvard. The first-term Democratic governor had been considered a rising star among his party, perhaps even presidential material.

But all that began to change last year as one scandal and misstep after another seemed to befall him. Spitzer was accused of using the power of his office to investigate his political opponents (which is illegal as hell). Then came his disastrous plan to give driver’s licenses to illegal aliens, one bright idea which didn’t go over too well with the people of New York State – more than 85% opposed the proposal.

Since then, his approval ratings have plummeted – at one point down to only about 36% – and Spitzer has been hard-pressed to find a way to salvage his Governorship, his name, and now…his entire political career. Not to mention his marriage. His wife of 21 years and three teenage daughters will be faced with the embarassing ordeal of constant public scrutiny and media intrusion into their shattered private lives.


“To say this is a shock is an understatement,” said CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, who went to law school with Spitzer.

The Republican Governors Association has called on Spitzer to resign to “allow the people of New York to pursue honest leadership.”

“The American people are tired of corrupt and hypocritical politicians. The governor of New York is just another in the long list of politicians that have failed their constituents,” Nick Ayers, RGA executive Director, said in a statement.

Spitzer’s office, the U.S. Attorney’s office in New York and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg all declined to comment on Spitzer. So did presidential candidates Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, who is a longtime friend and political ally of the New York Governor. Right now, Mum’s the word…but mark my word, it won’t be for long.

This story’s got more legs than an octopus, and it’s going to walk from New York to Washington. We may even get congressional hearings out of this mess. The aftershocks from this rattler will extend far beyond the boundaries of New York State.

Spitzer’s close proximity to New York Senator Hillary Clinton (whom he has endorsed in the presidential contest) has already caused her trouble during this campaign. His licenses-for-illegals proposal forced Clinton to answer some very delicate questions on immigration which cost her campaign dearly last fall. By extension, this flap damaged the Democratic party overall, but once Spitzer dropped the idea, everyone seemed willing to give him one more chance. And now he’s blown it big time.

Governor Spitzer is also a highly-prized Superdelegate, one who was likely expected to “deliver” some other Superdelegates to Clinton and help her secure the nomination. How that will play out between now and August is anybody’s guess, but if the Governor resigns from office, it will cost Spitzer his Superdelegate status.

Bobby Kennedy, Jr.


Another very interesting aspect of this story is how the fallout will effect Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.’s political plans. As readers of this blog already know, Bobby has endorsed Senator Clinton for President and makes no secret of the fact that he would love to reclaim his late father’s former Senate seat. Should Senator Clinton vacate that seat upon election to the presidency, the task of appointing her successor would fall to Governor Spitzer.

Up until now, that seemed a very distinct possibility, as Spitzer and Kennedy have always enjoyed a very friendly relationship. Although the two have probably shared a gentleman’s agreement not to run against each other for any public office, RFK Jr. did briefly consider running for Attorney General of New York once Spitzer announced he would run for Governor in 2005.

Kennedy decided against the idea of running for A.G., and later donated a small amount ($200) to Spitzer’s 2006 gubernatorial election campaign. They appeared together at a Clinton Library symposium last fall and Gov. Spitzer also proposed renaming the Triborough Bridge in New York “the RFK Bridge” just two months ago. (RFK Jr., his mother Ethel, and other members of the Robert Kennedy family were in attendance when the announcement was made during Gov. Spitzer’s State of the State address.)

At this point, with Senator Clinton running behind in the presidential race and Governor Spitzer now facing possible impeachment or recall, resignation, maybe even jail time over this sex scandal, Bobby may want to rethink what was seemingly a foolproof plan to be the next Junior Senator from New York State.

Maybe that Senate seat won’t be up for grabs anytime soon. If Hillary doesn’t win the nomination, I rather doubt she will accept a VP slot on Obama’s ticket. Nor do I envision her simply walking away from her hard-won Senate seat. Hillary can likely keep that seat for life, and if the voters of New York want her to stay put, why shouldn’t she?

Bobby is a practical political player. He’s also a realist. He can read the writing on the proverbial wall: “Win or lose, I hope and expect Hillary to remain in public life because she is extremely effective and because that is her passion,” Kennedy informed Page Six in January.

On the other hand, if Eliot Spitzer is impeached or resigns, there will be an election coming up for a Very Important Office — an office which one Robert F. Kennedy Jr. could certainly fill – and where he’d do great things for the people of New York State.

So, Bobby…ever considered running for Governor? (Yes, we know you have.)

Perhaps you should consider it again now.

MAR. 12 UPDATE: New York Governor Eliot Spitzer resigned today. Lt. Gov. David Patterson will be sworn in on Monday, Mar. 17th.

Copyright RFKin2008.com.


Filed under election 2008, hillary clinton, media, politics, RFK, RFK Jr., robert f. kennedy, robert kennedy jr., senator robert kennedy, the kennedys, Uncategorized