Congressman Dan Maffei (D-Syracuse) has released his first television campaign ad, sparking sharp criticism from the opposition.
Maffei’s ad, a 30-second spot entitled “Hard Work,” features the congressman visiting with small businessmen and –women, chatting with senior citizens and posing with his family. The ad asserts that Maffei, too, is sick of Congressional gridlock and perks and is working hard to get rid of them. It points to several pieces of legislation in which Maffei had a hand or for which he voted, including:
Members Play By The Same Rules Act (H.R. 5177), which eliminates taxpayer funded subsidies for member health insurance plans
The Revolving Door Pension Prevention Act (H.R. 2594), which bans pensions for former members who make more than $1 million as lobbyists
Congressional Halt In Pay Increases and Cut Congressional Pay Act (H.R. 398), which cuts 10 percent from future member pay
To Prohibit members of Congress from receiving any automatic pay adjustments through the end of the One Hundred Thirteenth Congress (H.R. 636), which eliminates automatic COLA adjustments in the 113th Congress
Stop Pay For Members Act (H.R. 1884), which allows for payment to members only after all other obligations have been met if the U.S. breaches the debt limit
No Budget, No Pay Act (H.R. 325), which restricts Congressional salaries if Congress fails to pass a budget or appropriations bills
If Our Military Has to Fly Coach Then so Should Congress Act (H.R. 4632), which restricts members from being able to purchase first-class air travel with taxpayer dollars
Maffei’s people say the ad accurately represents his commitment to force Congress to be accountable.
“Rep. Dan Maffei grew up on the east side of Syracuse, and he understands first-hand that Members of Congress shouldn’t receive any special treatment and instead play by the same rules as their constituents,” said Kane Miller, campaign manager for Friends of Dan Maffei. “That is why Rep. Maffei refused to take a taxpayer funded subsidy for healthcare, wrote a bill to eliminate them for Members of Congress, and helped pass the ‘No Budget, No Pay’ Act. Rep. Maffei believes that Congress should play by the same rules as hardworking Central New York families.”
The other side, however, has its own thoughts about the ad; the National Republican Congressional Committee called it “a laughable exercise in deception and hypocrisy.”
“Maffei left out the fact that he still collected his paycheck after voting against every budget offered last year,” said NRCC spokesman Ian Prior in a statement. “He failed to disclose that he voted for first class airfare and taxpayer funded healthcare for life for members of Congress. And nowhere did Maffei mention that he passed out over $200,000 in taxpayer funded staff bonuses and supported requiring that those same taxpayers pay for his political campaigns.”
Candidates spar over union endorsements
The TV ad wasn’t the only source of conflict last week between Maffei and his Republican opponent, John Katko. Both claimed to have the support of Teamsters for the upcoming election.
Katko earned the endorsement of Tim Hogan, the former president of the now-dissolved Teamsters 182 and a friend of Katko’s. On May 1, the union merged with Local 294 in Albany.
“I’m proud to endorse John,” Hogan said. “One thing I want to say is, just because we’re a Democratic union, doesn’t mean we have to vote Democrat. We vote for people who are going to do the right thing in there and not benefit themselves.”
But other labor leaders in Syracuse called the endorsement a “sham.” Teamsters Local 294 said it unequivocally supports Maffei, and Hogan’s endorsement is, at best, specious since that union is no longer within the 24th Congressional District.
“Local Teamster Unions 294 and 317 proudly support Rep. Dan Maffei because he is a proven leader for the hardworking men and women of Central New York and someone who has worked tirelessly on efforts to strengthen the middle and grow the economy,”’ said Union President John Bulgaro in a statement. “He is committed to ensuring that hardworking men and women have the tools they need to succeed. Rep. Maffei is focused on creating jobs and supporting common sense polices to move this country forward.”
Katko did earn the endorsement of the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) last week.
“John is a proven leader that believes in fairness and has a common-sense approach that will make him an exceptional champion for Central New York job creators,” said Steve Tallman, president of the Empire State Chapter of ABC. “With Washington seeming to produce only high taxes and over-regulation, our economic recovery is threatened. John knows that comprehensive tax and health care reforms are part of the solution to foster an economic environment that Upstate families need to recover.”
Sheriff’s race shrinks
Would-be Onondaga County Sheriff candidate John Balloni will no longer present a challenge to Republican nominee Gene Conway.
Balloni, who had sought the nomination and had said he would consider a primary against Conway, has accepted a job in Volusia County, Florida.
Conway, the chief of police for the DeWitt department, received the party designation at its convention in March. Baldwinsville resident John “Jack” Garafolo has also dropped out of the race, having not collected enough signatures to qualify for the ballot.
Meanwhile, Democrat Toby Shelley has announced that he will compete against Conway for the Conservative Party’s line on the ballot. Shelley has already received the endorsement of the party.
“At our last meeting held on Tuesday, July 22, the Onondaga County Conservative Party Executive Committee overwhelmingly agreed to urge all registered conservatives to vote in this year’s primary Tuesday, Sept. 9, and cast their ballot for the only endorsed candidate for sheriff, Mr. Toby Shelley,” said Chuck Mancabelli, the party’s chair.
Shelley is a 30-year veteran of the United States Air Force and New York State Air National Guard, with service in Iraq. He serves as a deputy in the Onondaga County Sheriff’s Department.
Sarah Hall is the editor of the Eagle Star-Review and the Baldwinsville Messenger. The 2012 winner of the Syracuse Press Club's Selwyn Kershaw Professional Standards Award, she has been with Eagle Newspapers since 2006. She is a Liverpool native.