New York: Democrat Hits Reynolds Over Scandal at NRCC

Posted February 27, 2008 at 6:43pm

Jon Powers, the Iraq War veteran who is trying to unseat Rep. Tom Reynolds (R), became the first Democratic candidate of the election cycle to try to make political hay out of the unfolding accounting scandal at the National Republican Congressional Committee.

Although Reynolds, who was NRCC chairman in the 2004 and 2006 cycles, has not been accused of any wrongdoing, the Powers campaign this week charged that the Congressman is trying to shirk any responsibility for the accounting woes at the campaign committee. The FBI is investigating whether Chris Ward, a longtime NRCC staffer, was knowingly responsible for questionable accounting procedures at the committee, which have only recently come to light.

In a statement released to Roll Call earlier this week, Reynolds said he was unaware of any financial improprieties at the NRCC while he was chairman, and said he welcomed “this investigation in an attempt to uncover the truth.”

But in a news release, John Gerken, Powers’ campaign manager, sought to link the NRCC scandal with the 2006 scandal surrounding then-Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.) and his sexually suggestive e-mails to House pages. At the time, Reynolds said he was aware that Foley had been sending potentially troubling e-mails to pages and reported them to House leaders — though critics said he should have taken bolder action.

“Western New Yorkers deserve better than this,” Gerken said. “They deserve real leadership and accountability in Washington, D.C., not a Congressman embroiled in scandal.”

Reynolds’ office said Wednesday that he would stand by his earlier statement.

Democrats Closer to Full Control Over State Govt.

In a development that could have major implications for the Empire State’s Congressional delegation in the future, state Assemblyman Darrel Aubertine (D) defeated fellow Assemblyman Will Barclay (R) in a special state Senate election Tuesday.

Aubertine’s 52 percent to 47 percent win in a heavily Republican Upstate district brings Democrats within one seat of taking over control of the state Senate for the first time in more than 40 years. If they gain the majority in the Senate this November, Democrats will control all levers of state government, which will aid them considerably during the next round of redistricting after the 2010 Census.

Both parties collectively spent about $2 million on the special election, according to media reports.

Democrats already hold a 23-6 edge in the U.S. Congressional delegation, and there are a handful of competitive House races in the Empire State this cycle. The district Aubertine won overlaps with that of Rep. John McHugh (R).

“We think there is a lot of evidence that this is going to carry over down the ballot and help us win some Congressional races, finally flip the Senate,” state Democratic Party Chairwoman June O’Neill told the Times-Union in Albany.

McNulty’s Father Joins Sister Supporting Brooks

A second member of retiring Rep. Mike McNulty’s (D) family has endorsed Tracey Brooks (D) in her bid to fill the 10-term Congressman’s Albany-area seat.

McNulty’s father, Jack McNulty (D), a one-time Green Island mayor and Albany County sheriff, announced his support for Brooks on Wednesday. He joins the Congressman’s sister, Green Island Mayor Ellen McNulty Ryan (D), in supporting Brooks, who is a former top aide to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D).

“Without question, Tracey Brooks is the candidate with the best grasp of the commitment, duties and obligations involved with this office,” the elder McNulty said in a statement.

Brooks is facing Albany County Legislator Phil Steck in the Democratic primary, which should determine who the next Congressman for the 21st district will be. Several better-known pols have taken a pass on the race, though former state Assemblyman Paul Tonko (D) has not ruled out the possibility of running.
— Josh Kurtz