Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Sweeney needs to come clean on his ski junket

Capitol Confidential covered today's Assembly hearing into Republican Congressional incumbent John Sweeney's ski junket. The Assembly held the hearing because Sweeney's junket was paid for by us - New York taxpayers - with $25,000 in taxpayer dollars (previous posts here and here). In case you're wondering where that money bought, in 2000, Sweeney and his guests dined on their "choice of tenderloin or sea bass one night, filet mignon or chicken the next."

The key to the story:
"Documents show quite a few participants since 1999 were invited at Sweeney’s request.

Sweeney wrote to the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct in August 2005 for an opinion 'as to the propriety' of Congress members and staffers attending the Winter Challenge. He did not ask about lobbyists.

The upshot of Committee's response was that there was no problem with the event, provided Sweeney himself did not do the inviting. Sweeney Deputy Chief of Staff Melissa Carlson insisted the congressman didn’t invite anyone. Blazer said under oath today that he did."

And there's more to come:

"The Assembly probe into this matter is continuing, Brodsky and Assemblyman Paul Tonko, D-Amsterdam, who convened the hearing, asked for more documentation from both ORDA and NYPA. Brodsky would not say whether he might ask Sweeney to testify, or seek to compel him to do so via subpoena if he refused to appear voluntarily.

Brodsky did say a legislative committee's subpoena power applies to people or matters that relate to pending legislation (in this case, authorities reform), but added that it is not affected by 'title or position.'"

John Sweeney should do the right thing and come clean about this ski junket instead of letting the investigation drag out. Sweeney has already learned how to abuse his power to get free trips from Tom DeLay; he should also have learned that the cover up makes the crime look worse.

Update: Sweeney has been invited to testify in his own defense. He should do it now instead of waiting for the subpoena to arrive.

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