Former Rep. John Sweeney (R-N.Y.), who lost his bid for re-election in 2006 and made headlines for driving under the influence and a police report that alleged spousal abuse, has joined an Albany-based law firm.
“My life sort of spiraled, and it went into not a good place,” said Sweeney, who is now of counsel at Tully Rinckey. “I committed myself to getting sober.”
The former Member says he has logged two years of sobriety and is ready for the gig, which will be a blend of legal work focused on employment and labor law as well as Congressional affairs in the form of helping clients deal with subpoenas or other requests for information from Hill committees. He will work out of both the Albany and Washington, D.C., offices.
The scandals that plagued him in Congress, including the domestic violence allegations from his then-wife, were “all part of the descent,” Sweeney said.
“Everything kind of culminated,” he added. “I got a second DUI arrest in April 2009, and it really forced me to focus on making changes in my life.”
His new boss, firm founder Matt Tully, said he read an article about the ex-Congressman’s work to get sober and reached out to him. The initial conversation ultimately led to a job offer.
“We’re not that concerned about losing any clients; in fact, we’re hoping he will bring in clients,” said Tully, who specializes in suing the government on behalf of federal employees who, in some cases, are considered whistle-blowers and field requests to appear before Congress.
“If I was in his shoes, I would want a second chance, so I’m glad we can provide it,” Tully said. “He has had issues in his past that I am confident will remain in his past.”
Tully said Sweeney’s work ethic fits in with the firm.
“Last week, he was coming in at 6 o’clock in the morning and leaving after 9 at night,” he said. “That’s a good guy to have on your team. He’s the type of person that doesn’t like to play second fiddle.”
While Sweeney isn’t likely to do much lobbying, Tully fully expects the ex-Congressman to work his old stomping ground. Since he has been out of office since 2007, Sweeney is under no restrictions from advocating at the legislative branch.
“Where we expect him to earn his money is helping our clients navigate the halls of Congress to make sure justice is done,” Tully said.
For his part, Sweeney said the blend of legal work and Congressional affairs was what drew him to Tully Rinckey.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.