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Audio Feature: Hudson Valley Congressional Report

Jun 05, 2022 7:30 pm

Here is this week's Hudson Valley Congressional Report from WGXC, tracking the votes, statements, positions, and campaigns of the representatives of the Hudson Valley in Congress and the candidates who want to replace them. Current Democrat Reps. Paul Tonko and Sean Maloney vote with the positions of President Joe Biden 100 percent of the time, according to the fivethirtyeight.com website. Republican Elise Stefanik voted with Biden's positions 18 percent of the time. Click here to listen to this report.

Wendy Liberatore is reporting for the Times Union the gun industry has a spokesman with exceptional access to U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, the No. 3 Republican in the House: her husband, Matthew Manda. Manda is the manager of public affairs for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, based in Newtown, Conn. The trade group's mission is "to promote, protect and preserve hunting and the shooting sports" and was one of the plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit attempting to block a New York law that increases potential liability for gun manufacturers. The suit was dismissed by a  judge in Albany earlier this week, but an appeal is likely. Manda frequently writes for the foundation's website and other outlets about the group's events and policy positions. "Law-abiding Americans choose over and over again to take their personal safety into their own hands and purchase a firearm," he wrote in April. "Congress needs to ensure the industry is free from ‘woke’ corporate discrimination.” Manda's article did not mention that Stefanik is his wife and he did not respond to a Times Union request for comment. A foundation spokesperson refused to say when Manda started working for the group, calling it "personal information." When the Times Union called Stefanik advisor and campaign spokesperson Alex deGrasse, to ask if Manda's work influences Stefanik’s position on gun rights, deGrasse called the reporter “a very sick person.” He then sent an email calling the Times Union “sexist.” Stefanik was a strong ally of the gun industry long before her husband went to work for the NSSF and she has an A-plus rating from the National Rifle Association. Stefanik and Manda met in 2012 and were married in 2017. At the time, Manda was the marketing and communications director for the Virginia-based Media Group of America, which runs the conservative news website the Independent Journal Review. Read more in the Times Union.

Andrew Waite reports for the Daily Gazette that Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik made a rare appearance at a press conference about milk in Albany May 31. It was the first time Stefanik faced reporters since 19 children and two adults were murdered at an elementary school in Texas. “I do not support gun control. But there is work that we need to do, and that is increasing mental health funding,” Stefanik said. “We need to increase school resource officers and make sure that we’re working with our county sheriffs to protect our schools that are most vulnerable.” Matt Castelli, who is one of two Democrats, pointed out Stefanik was not addressing her constituents, which will not include all Rensselaer County residents, because of redistricting. “She’s not in her district. She’s in Albany talking about something that is not related to the job of representing the 21st Congressional District,” said Castelli. “There should be no more compelling issue facing our country right now than addressing the insecurity that our parents and our kids and our teachers are facing with this threat of gun violence in our schools.” Stefanik did say she supported the Fix NICS Act, which strengthened the federal background check system – the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. But Castelli pointed out Stefanik voted against reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act. “I would just highlight that she has been in Congress for (nearly) eight years and hasn’t been able to solve this problem,” Castelli said. “It’s not surprising to hear Congresswoman Stefanik’s remarks. She’s got a pattern of behavior where every one of her actions is all about service to herself. In this instance, it’s about putting the needs of her special-interest donors and her gun [advocating] husband above the lives of our kids and the safety of our communities.” Last week, the Times Union reported that Stefanik’s husband, Matthew Manda, manages the public affairs for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, based in Newtown, Conn. Read more about this story in the Daily Gazette.

Paul Kirby compares, in the Daily Freeman, the positions on guns of the two candidates for the special election in August to pick a Congressperson for New York's current 19th Congressional District. Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan, a Democrat, wants to bring back the ban on assault rifles and institute universal background checks on gun purchasers. Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro, a Republican, did not list any specific legislation he would back to address the problem. “We must also institute universal background checks, ban bump stocks and high-capacity magazines, prevent straw purchases, close gun-show loopholes, and institute red flag laws and no-buy lists for domestic abusers and suspected terrorists,” Ryan said. “Americans universally support these measures and they deserve representatives with the backbone to take on the gun lobby and deliver actual results.” Molinaro did not use the word gun in his response to the murder of 19 children and two adults at an elementary school in Texas. "It is imperative we attack the root of the problem here; reducing isolation and fighting hatred by building a community of inclusion. It’s what we’ve done in Dutchess County for a decade," he said. The Just Facts website reports that Molinaro, in 2018, had a 92 percent rating from the National Rifle Association. In 2018 Molinaro also had a 100 percent rating from the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association. And New Yorkers Against Gun Violence gave Molinaro an F rating in 2008. Read more about this story in the Daily Freeman.

Patricia R. Doxsey reports in the Daily Freeman that Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan allowed so-called "school resource officers" in the Rondout and Onteora school districts and at Ulster County BOCES last week after the murder of 19 children and two adults at a Texas school. The Ulster County Legislature voted 19-4 for the security guards at the schools at its May 17 meeting, before the Texas shooting. After the shooting, Ryan returned the resolutions unsigned, "a move that is generally used to allow a resolution to go into effect while signaling disapproval of the measure," Doxsey wrote. Ryan put out a statement on the issue May 27. “As a parent, I feel very strongly that we need to do everything that we can to keep our kids safe in school. I also feel strongly that decisions about what happens in schools should be made by parents, teachers, and school boards, that is why I have consistently returned these resolutions unsigned, empowering our school districts to make these decisions,” he said. BOCES will pay the county $53,241.58 for a part-time security guard from July 1, through June 30, 2023. The Onteora and Rondout school districts will each pay the county $111,054.66 for security guards in each of those districts between Sept. 1, 2022 and June 30, 2023. The "no" votes against the security guards in schools were from Legislature Chair Tracey Bartels, a non-enrolled voter from Gardiner who aligns with Democrats; and Democrats Philip Erner, Abe Uchitelle, and Eve Walter. Read more about this story in the Daily Freeman.

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