Calling Mr. Available…

The state Democratic Party takes an original approach today to criticizing Rep. John Sweeney, attempting to quantify his lack of dedication to his upstate district by counting the number of times the congressman has blown off local media outlets.

I’m not sure sticking up for the press is a great vote-getting strategy — as aggrieved constituencies go, journalists could hardly rank much lower in the public’s estimation — but we certainly appreciate the effort. (The full release is after the jump.)

We’re immediately commencing a study of our own to determine some of the other least accessible officials in New York. Nominations welcome.

– Josh Benson

New York State

DEMOCRATIC COMMITTEE

Phone: (212) 725-8825 • Fax: (212) 725-8867 • Web: http://www.nydems.org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Blake Zeff

August 3, 2006 (917) 519-8316

“MR. AVAILABLE TO THE NORTH COUNTRY” NOT SO AVAILABLE TO THE NORTH COUNTRY AFTER ALL

“I will be committed to making myself available to the people of the North Country”

– Then-candidate John Sweeney in 1998

New study reveals: “Mr. Available” regularly blows off the North Country by telling its local media outlets to take a hike — because he’s too busy “traveling between meetings”

When Rep. John Sweeney was first a candidate in 1998 and did not even live in the district, he felt compelled to convince the district that he would be accessible and responsive to them, even pledging, “I will be committed to making myself available to the people of the North Country.”

So now that he’s in the political battle of his life, let’s take a look at just how available Mr. Sweeney has made himself to the people of the North Country’s local media outlets. The following is a catalog of just some of the many occasions over just the last few months alone in which “Mr. Available” has told the North Country to take a hike:

Sweeney, R-Clifton Park, was tied up in meetings on Tuesday and was not available to discuss the trip directly, said his spokeswoman, Melissa Carlson.
Sweeney attends aerospace exhibition in London – Glen Falls Post Star, July 19, 2006

Sweeney was voting on the House floor Friday and was not available to discuss Gillibrand’s proposal, said his spokeswoman Melissa Carlson.
Gillibrand calls for light rail system – Glens Falls Post-Star, July 29, 2006

Sweeney would not discuss the mailer, said his campaign spokeswoman Maureen Donovan, who said in a prepared statement the brochure “is not negative.”
Sweeney keeps up residency attack – Glen Falls Post Star, July 26, 2006

Sweeney was traveling outside the country and was not available to comment, said his campaign spokeswoman Maureen Donovan.
Sweeney supporter questions Gillibrand residency – Glen Falls Post Star, July 18, 2006

· Sweeney would not comment on the article, said his spokeswoman Melissa Carlson.

Media turns attention to Sweeney – Glen Falls Post Star, July 15, 2006

Sweeney would not comment directly, and his campaign spokeswoman Maureen Donovan would not comment on Gillibrand’s criticism of his vote on the Iraq resolution.
Sweeney dared to debate Iraq war – Glen Falls Post Star, June 23, 2006

Sweeney would not discuss Gillibrand’s debate challenge, Donovan said Tuesday.
Sweeney keeps up residency attack – Glens Falls Post Star, July 26, 2006

· An aide to Sweeney did not immediately comment on the report.

Magazine article: Sweeney blames Pataki for GOP woes – Glen Falls Post Star, July 12, 2006

Sweeney would not discuss the release directly on Thursday. His campaign spokeswoman, Maureen Donovan, said he was tied up traveling between meetings.
Gillibrand won’t have to run in primary; Sweeney criticizes DCCC video; Sierra club endorses Gillibrand; Vote on minimum wage scheduled in Congress – Glen Falls Post Star, July 14, 2006

Melissa Carlson, a spokeswoman for Sweeney, did not return calls from The Associated Press seeking comment.
Assemblyman asks Sweeney to testify about Lake Placid ski weekend – AP/Glen Falls Post Star, July 12, 2006

Sweeney was asked to testify at the Assembly hearing, but declined. A spokeswoman for Sweeney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
ORDA chief says “clean up” ski weekend invitation process – AP, July 25, 2006

Sweeney would not address the criticism directly. His spokeswoman Maureen Donovan said Democrats should focus on issues important to women such as breast cancer research and gas prices instead of overplaying the congressman’s remarks.
On the trail: Former Democrat leader criticizes Sweeney for ‘pretty face’ remark – Glen Falls Post Star, May 17, 2006 (date posted on web)

· Sweeney has no comment on the merchandise, said his spokeswoman Melissa Carlson.

Some merchandisers trying to capitalize on Sweeney’s fraternity visit – Glen Falls Post Star, May 17, 2006 (date posted on web)

Sweeney, through a spokeswoman, would not discuss the report, which appeared Thursday in Concordiensis, the student newspaper at Union College in Schenectady. “He’s been busy working on issues and taking care of things,” said his spokeswoman, Melissa Carlson, who said he was not directly commenting on the issue with news organizations.
Sweeney officials question report on Sweeney’s late-night visit to frat party – Glen Falls Post Star, April 27, 2006

A call to the phone number on Sweeney’s campaign Web site was not returned.
Gillibrand hits campaign trail in Saranac Lake – Adirondack Daily Enterpise, August 2, 2006

Twice Brodsky has asked Sweeney to testify; twice Sweeney’s office has refused.
Assembly hearing prompts ORDA changes – Press-Republican, July 26, 2006

Congressman John Sweeney has rebuffed two invitations to testify before an Assembly committee investigating the Congressional Winter Challenge. Meantime, questions about who paid for the participants’ plane tickets remain unsettled. On Wednesday, Melissa Carlson, a spokeswoman for Sweeney (R-Clifton Park), reiterated the congressman’s position, saying he had no intention to appear before the committee.
ORDA inquiry remains unsettled – Press-Republican, July 20, 2006

Responding to the comments from Sweeney’s office, Brodsky on Wednesday invited Sweeney to testify when the hearings resume. A member of Brodsky’s staff said the congressman had not yet responded to the invitation.
Invitations to ORDA event focus of debate – Press-Republican, July 13, 2006

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