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Audio Feature: WGXC Congressional Report

Jan 30, 2023 6:03 pm

Here is this week's WGXC Congressional Report, tracking the votes, statements, positions, and campaigns of the representatives and candidates for the 18th, 19th, 20th, and 21st Congressional seats in New York. Democrat Pat Ryan is representing the 18th Congressional District, Republican Marc Molinaro represents the 19th Congressional District, Democrat Rep. Paul Tonko represents the 20th District, and Republican Elise Stefanik represents the 21st District. Click here to listen to this report.

Patricia R. Doxsey reports in the Daily Freeman that both Democrat Pat Ryan and Republican Marc Molinaro agree that there should be an independent investigation after the discovery of classified information stored in the home and former office of President Joe Biden. Ryan said, “Our last two presidents have issues with this,” referring to Biden and former President Donald Trump, who stored hundreds of documents with classified markings at various locations in his Mar-a-Lago resort. Biden has cooperated with investigators, while Trump has not. “I don’t think we can give equivalency when one individual not only refuses to cooperate but is suing to stop the National Archives from taking possession of the documents; and Biden, who has been cooperative, has taken responsibility and proactively disclosed what’s happened,” Ryan said. Molinaro agreed with Ryan that Biden needs to be investigated. Molinaro said in a prepared statement, “We need to conduct an honest and independent review to understand what went wrong in both of these cases and ensure our nation’s secrets are better protected going forward.” Ryan represents the 18th Congressional District, while Molinaro lives in that district, but represents the 19th Congressional District. Read more about this story in the Daily Freeman.

Heidi Przybyla, Julia Marsh, and Jessica Piper report for Politico that the New York Young Republican Club "has feted and supported a roster of relatively extreme figures," and that Marc Molinaro and Elise Stefanik, who represent local Congressional Districts, are members. The group, Politico reports, "has closely aligned itself with former Donald Trump adviser Steve Bannon and “Pizzagate” conspiracist Jack Posobiec." The New York Young Republican Club recently endorsed Hungary’s autocratic leader, Viktor Orbán, and have backed other authoritarian leaders. The club’s president, Gavin Wax, donated $500 to the joint fundraising committee of repeated liar George Santos, who was elected to Congress from Long Island last fall. Wax admits that not everyone will care for the group that includes Molinaro and Stefanik. “If you believe the Trump wing is racist, then there’s nothing we can do,” Wax said. “They’re big names in the conservative right wing of the party. If that’s the new level of controversy then, sure, we’re controversial.” Of the group's backing of authoritarian leaders around the world, Wax said: “We reject the premise and narrative that these parties are beyond the pale and outside of polite society.” Molinaro, who represents the 19th Congressional District, ran as a moderate, but, so far, has voted with conservatives, hired far-right staff, and is a member of the New York Young Republican Club. Read more about this story in Politico.

Pamela Brown and Gregory Krieg report for CNN about how important Rep. Elise Stefanik was to getting Rep. George Santos elected. Stefanik, a Republican, represents New York's 21st Congressional District, which now includes Rensselaer County. Santos was just elected as a Republican from Long Island, with a long list of outrageous lies that are being uncovered daily. “I would have never donated without Elise,” said Ken Salamone, who gave $5,800 to Santos’ campaign and more than $20,000 to his joint fundraising committee. “I assumed she did her homework. I always do my homework and didn’t. Shame on me.” Kristin Bianco is another Republican donor who said Stefanik convinced her to give to Santos. But after she gave Santos $550, she said he lied to her about whether Donald Trump had endorsed him. “He was after me to become a big donor…he was such a fraud,” Bianco said. “I tried to warn people.” CNN quotes a third, anonymous donor to Santos who said, “he donated to George Santos because of Elise Stefanik’s endorsement.” All Stefanik will say, through a spokesperson, is that she was not, “aware of the allegations (against Santos) prior to the New York Times reporting,” which came after the election. CNN also quotes a senior Republican strategist involved in campaigns before the midterms saying, “Stefanik’s team was laser focused on electing Santos to Congress – more than just about any other race in the country.” The Stefanik spokesperson denied any involvement with the campaign of Santos, saying, “At no point did any staff for Congresswoman Stefanik work or advise this candidate.” Stefanik Tweeted her endorsement of Santos on August 11, 2021. On May 23, 2022, Stefanik Tweeted that she had helped raise more than $100,000 for Santos. Read more about this story at CNN.

Tyler A. McNeil reports in the Daily Gazette that Republican Elise Stefanik and Democrat Paul Tonko are working together on a local land designation issue. They both want to extend the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area past Rensselaer County into Washington and Saratoga counties. Tonko represents Saratoga, and Stefanik represents Rensselaer and Washington counties. “I would just say that oh my God, I’ve worked with both of them, I get along with both of them, but when you have Paul Tonko and Elise Stefanik on the same page, I think you have an incredible chance of making that happen,” said Todd Shimkus, president of the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce. The duo have introduced legislation to extend the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area in hopes of receiving grants, and other economic benefits. Stefanik said. “The cultural, environmental, and economic impact that these National Heritage Areas have on communities in upstate New York cannot be overstated, and I am proud to work to expand this opportunity to all of Washington and Saratoga counties.” Previously, Tonko and Stefanik worked together on efforts to reinforce federal limousine safety standards, on broadband expansion, and on an early version of the CHIPS for America Act. Read the full story in the Daily Gazette.

Tyler A. McNeil reports in the Daily Gazette that Republican Elise Stefanik was appointed this week to a new Congressional panel that her party says is to probe abuses of power within the federal government. Democrats say the Republicans are investigating the weaponization of government by weaponizing the government. Stefanik, who represents New York's 21st Congressional District including Rensselaer County, becomes one of 15 members on the U.S. House of Representative Judiciary Committee’s new Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government. Stefanik said in a statement, that “There are serious questions about how government agencies have gotten away with this for so long, and we will get to the bottom of how these corrupt agencies are being weaponized against everyday Americans.” Democrats say the new group is analogous to the House Un-American Activities Committee of the 1950s. Paul Tonko, a Democrat who locally represents the 20th Congressional District, said about the new panel that it is, “Chaired by one of the most right-wing partisans in Congress who voted to throw out the 2020 election results, this committee’s explicit purpose is to sabotage the work of the Department of Justice and the January 6th Select Committee.” Read more about this story in the Daily Gazette.

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