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Audio Feature: This week in News for Rep. John Faso 20180724

Jul 20, 2018 10:45 am
Here's the week in the news for Rep. John Faso (R-Kinderhook), the District 19 Congressperson for the WGXC listening area. The Fivethirtyeight.com website currently reports Faso votes with Donald Trump's positions 89.7 percent of the time, slightly higher than last week. Click here to download or play an audio version of this report (13:17).

Chris McKenna reports at The Fray that the House Republican Super political action committee has reserved $1 million in television and internet advertising this fall for Rep. John Faso (R-Kinderhook). The Congressional Leadership Fund has said it has bought air time for ten candidates, including Faso. His opponent, Democrat Antonio Delgado raised more than Faso in the second two quarters of 2017, as did another Democrat, Pat Ryan. As of March 31, Delgado had more money overall than Faso. The fundraising reports for the second quarter of 2018 will be announced this week. Read the full story at The Fray.

Paul Brooks in the Times Herald-Record reports that 18 Hudson Valley-based religious leaders are calling for Rep. John Faso (R-Kinderhook) to retract his review of some of the lyrics of a hip hop album put out by his opponent, Antonio Delgado, in 2006. “Shame on you!” a letter addressed to Faso from 18 local members of the clergy says. “This tactic should be called out for what it is, a thinly veiled, racist attack for the purpose of insinuating fear in the voters in our district. Employing this tactic is distasteful, offensive, and morally wrong.” Last week, even though the existence of Delgado's 2006 album – credited to AD the Voice – “Painfully Free” has been mentioned in the media and campaign for over a year, Faso said in a July 9 press release, “I was shocked and surprised to learn Mr. Delgado authored some very troubling and offensive song lyrics. ... Mr. Delgado’s lyrics paint an ugly and false picture of America.” In a letter to Faso, the clergy are asking the Congressperson, “to retract your attack, and continue this Congressional race with integrity and honesty.” On July 13 the Republican-backed super PAC the Congressional Leadership Fund began paying for a radio advertisement to air locally in the Albany and Poughkeepsie media markets, centered on Delgado’s recordings and lyrics. Delgado’s lyrics do include a few references to drug use and sexual encounters, and do also tackle politics, such as the government's insufficient response to the victims of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. “Think about our history and trace it back to when the Super Dome got packed in, like a slave ship, thousands left to die like they ain’t worth (expletive). How can we forget the past when it lives in the present? Why the response wasn’t as fast as 9/11? The crescent city abandoned,” is one Delgado lyric. On July 13 the Democrat defended his music again, saying, “The mission of my music was clear - to speak to and inspire folks who have felt shut out and ignored by a broken political system, as so many people here at home still do.... I’m disappointed that John Faso and his allies would stoop this low to use stereotypes and lies. ... I call on John Faso to immediately disavow these divisive attacks.” Rabbi Yael Romer, Congregation Emanuel of the Hudson Valley, in Kingston, said the principles of the letter addressed to Faso should extend to the outside PAC. “I find it reprehensible that any group would use this kind of tactic in an attempt to elect a candidate,” she said. Faso's campaign did not respond to the newspaper's request for comment. Read the full story in the Times Herald-Record.

• A SUNY New Paltz professor released a statement July 17, after he was quoted in the New York Times talking about Congressional candidate Antonio Delgadgo's 2006 hip hop CD. After Faso criticized the lyrics of Delgado's old project "AD the Voice" last week, several other national publications have picked up the story, including The New York Times, where SUNY New Paltz professor Gerald Benjamin, a friend of Faso, was quoted saying, “Is a guy who makes a rap album the kind of guy who lives here in rural New York and reflects our lifestyle and values?" adding that he personally did not consider rap music to be “real music.” That brought criticism from SUNY New Paltz President Donald Christian and Tanhena Pacheco Dunn, the college’s chief diversity officer, among others. Christian and Dunn wrote an open letter that said that Benjamin’s comments “raise the specter of racism and marginalize members of our community, both of which are antithetical to our institutional values of inclusivity and respect.... We spoke with the administrator who offered these quotes,” the letter states. “He regrets these comments and their impact on the institution and our community and recognizes that language matters.” Hours after the article went online and brought on the criticism, Benjamin sent out this email:
Dear Colleagues and Co-workers:
I have worked at SUNY New Paltz for fifty years in several capacities, and have a deep attachment to the school and the diverse community we have built here. I am therefore very sorry for any unintended distress caused by my remarks in yesterday’s NY Times interview, published today in the print edition. These remarks have been condemned as racist. I had no racist intent but understand the impact of those remarks, and regret having made them. I sought to make two points in this interview. The first was that race is never irrelevant to American politics, and that this is especially the case when an African American candidate is running against a white candidate in a largely white district. The second was that the Republican use of his background as a rap artist was an attempt to open a cultural gap between Mr. Delgado and the majority of the district’s population. I made these points badly. My remarks were insufficiently precise, my points poorly articulated and my language very insensitive and therefore subject to multiple interpretations. I particularly regret the casual use of the phrase “people like us” to describe rural upstate New Yorkers. This language is over general, exclusionary and, I see in retrospect, evokes racist connotations. Academics should stick to what they know. I react negatively to racially charged, violence-inducing misogynistic lyrics I have heard, but knew virtually nothing about rap music as a form of affirmative artistic and cultural expression. I was therefore particularly in error and professionally inappropriate in generalizing from a casually informed point of view, and in doing so turning what should have been an analytic statement into a very badly informed personal one. I am honored to head a regional public policy research center named for me that does important work to advance social equity, political accountability and environmental justice. My talented colleagues in the Center, especially because it is named for me, fear that my comments in the Times will jeopardize their opportunity to continue this important work. I urge that colleagues and citizens understand that my remarks were not representative of the Center and its staff, and I ask you to continue to value our work on its merits. I deeply regret my comments and apologize for any unintended offense they may have engendered and for any harm caused to our institution, to which I have devoted my professional life.
Gerald Benjamin
Director - The Benjamin Center
Distinguished Professor - Political Science
Associate Vice President - Regional Engagement

Chris McKenna is reporting for The Fray 19th Congressional District candidate, Democrat Antonio Delgado spent approximately $2.1 million, or roughly $272 per vote, in his June primary battle against six other Democrats. Delgado will face off against incumbent Republican John Faso in November. Delgado raised the most among the field of seven, and outraised Faso by nearly $500,000 over the last 18 months, according to campaign disclosure forms. Delgado's fellow Democrat, Brian Flynn from Greene County, tied for fourth in the primary, but spent the second highest amount on expenses, winding up with the greatest per vote cost of $331. Jeff Beals, of Woodstock, received the same number of votes as Flynn and spent less than a third as much. Delgado, an attorney who lives in Rhinebeck, won the primary with 22 percent of the vote, about four points higher than his nearest rivals. He was one of the earliest candidates to emerge last year in what turned out to be a crowded and competitive Democratic race. The seven contenders who stayed in the race until the end spent a total of more than $7 million, according to the state Board of Elections. Read the full story at The Fray, a HudsonValley [dot] com blog.

The Associated Press and the Daily Freeman are reporting lawmakers from both major parties expressed shock, dismay and discomfort with President Donald Trump's comments July 16, that he believes Russian President Vladimir Putin's denial of Russian aggressive cyber attacks against the U.S. during the 2016 presidential campaign. U.S. Rep. John Faso joined a chorus of Republican senators. Congressmen and other officials, expressing dismay "at the approach" taken by Trump during a 45-minute press conference in Helsinki. “Putin is no friend to the United States,” Faso said in a statement emailed to the media. “There is no credibility to Putin’s denials, especially in light of the public evidence and our own U.S. intelligence reports. We know the Russians meddled in our elections and we must continue our sanctions and diplomatic pressure against Putin’s actions.” Faso's Democratic challenger, Antonio Delgado, said it was “deeply problematic” that Trump refused to acknowledge Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. “Silence on this issue can be deafening, if not complicit, in behavior unaligned with the security of our nation,” Delgado posted on his official campaign page on Facebook. Read the full story in the Daily Freeman.

• On July 17, Rep. John Faso joined all but three of his Republican colleagues in the U.S. House voting 229-184 for H.R. 6147. The spending bill for, "the Department of the Interior, environment, and related agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2019," does not take a position on pay raises for federal workers. That, Fedweek reports, allows annual raises proposed by the White House to take effect by default. Currently, the Trump administration is not advocating any raises for 2019, so federal paychecks would remain flat. Some Democrats are calling for a three percent federal wage increase, but observers predict the raise will be decided in negotiations between the House and Senate, and not until later this year.

Catherine Boudreau at Politico reports that 47 U.S. House members have been named to the conference committee that will work out the major differences between the Senate and House versions of the Farm Bill, with only one area representative on the list. Congressperson Paul Tonko, who represents all of Albany County and part of Rensselaer County, was named by Nancy Pelosi to the conference committee. Rep. John Faso (R-Kinderhook) did not get named by Paul Ryan among the Republicans on the committee that will attempt to work out the differences between their versions of H.R. 2, the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018. Faso has championed a proposal in the House version, though not in the Senate version, adding more work requirements to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or food stamps. Tonko disagrees. “I am honored to have the opportunity to bring my voice to the table during negotiations of this essential bill,” said Tonko in a social media post. “As we go to conference with the Senate, I vow to fight against any and every provision that would force kids to go hungry, undermine environmental protections, weaken clean energy opportunities in rural communities, and rip resources from the hands of our farmers. I look forward to advocating for the programs that matter most to our farmers and families across Upstate New York.” The Farm Bill, passed about every four years, funds all sorts of nutrition, agriculture, and research programs. The House version, H.R. 2, passed in June 213-211, with 20 Republicans joining all the House Democrats against the bill. The Senate bill would also, unlike the House version, legalize industrial hemp production, encourage exports to Cuba, extend the flood insurance program, and allow grazing on some conservation lands. Read the full story at Politico.

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