Kirsten Gillibrand on Principles & Values
Democratic Senator (NY); Democratic Candidate for President (withdrawn)
When I was a girl, I was super-athletic, and didn't spend a minute worrying about what I ate. The end of my dieting innocence came right before my high school graduation, when I went on a 5-day liquid fast, to look as thin as possible for our graduation pictures.
I lost ten pounds in those five days, which I felt very virtuous about, until I gained it all back the following week.
[By 2009, after having two children], I was fifty pounds heavier than I was before I had children. That was enough.
[By 2012], I said yes to a Daily News for an interview request about my diet and exercise. Eating right and maintaining a healthy weight are nearly universal struggles for Americans. I wanted to connect with people; why not tell my story?
Kirsten was a great choice. As a congresswoman, she was a champion for families in her upstate New York district and a creative problem solver willing to reach across the aisle to get the job done for her constituents. And she was a leader on transparency, putting out a weekly "Sunlight Report" detailing exactly how she spent her time. The New York Times called it "a quiet touch of revolution." She was just what the Senate needed. A few days before she was sworn in, Kirsten and I sat down for lunch with Governor David Paterson and Senator Chuck Schumer. She told us, "I'm going to hit the ground running." And boy, did she. Practically overnight, Kirsten went from a junior congresswoman to a prominent and powerful senator.
He walked over to his bookshelf, pulled off a thick paperback, and started reading aloud statistics about voter registration, Democratic performance, and past electoral results. I didn't know what the numbers meant. He translated: In the 20th District, a Democrat could expect roughly 45% of the vote.
Jeffery said, "You can't possibly win. There aren't enough Democrats in that district. The district is two-to-one Republican," meaning it had twice as many registered Republicans as Democrats.
"What happens if I raise $2 million & really get my message out?"
Jeffery didn't budge. "It doesn't matter. That's not how campaigns actually work."
"What happens if Sweeney gets indicted?" I asked.
Jeffery didn't miss a beat. "Well, it depends what he gets indicted for!" [Sweeney was indicted in DWI & domestic abuse charges; Gillibrand won in 2006]
He returned fire by highlighting defense work Gillibrand did as an attorney for tobacco giant Philip Morris in the 1990s. "She was actually the architect of everything that company did to try to hide the fact that cigarettes cause cancer," he said.
"Your arguments are absolutely fantasy," Gillibrand scoffed. The senator characterized her tobacc work as something she got stuck with when she was "a junior associate in a big firm."
She pointed out that DioGuardi, too, had represented Big Tobacco, as an accountant. DioGuardi objected, and she shot back: "Oh, so you didn't choose your clients?"
"In the past month, many Senators have asked me about my judicial philosophy. It is simple: fidelity to the law. The task of a judge is not to make the law--it is to apply the law. And it is clear, I believe, that my record in two courts reflects my rigorous commitment to interpreting the Constitution according to its terms; interpreting statutes according to their terms and Congress's intent; and hewing faithfully to precedents established by the Supreme Court and my Circuit Court. In each case I have heard, I have applied the law to the facts at hand."
The 32 conservative and moderate Democrats in the Blue Dog Coalition hail from every region of the country, although the group acknowledges some southern ancestry which accounts for the group’s nickname. Taken from the South’s longtime description of a party loyalist as one who would vote for a yellow dog if it were on the ballot as a Democrat, the “Blue Dog” moniker was taken by members of The Coalition because their moderate-to-conservative-views had been “choked blue” by their party in the years leading up to the 1994 election.
The Coalition was formed in the 104th Congress as a common sense, bridge-building voice. Since then, the Blue Dogs have successfully injected a moderate viewpoint into the Democratic Caucus. The continuing political success of “Blue Pups” in the 1998 and 2000 elections points to the public’s approval of the centrist, fiscally responsible message represented by The Coalition.
The Coalition has been particularly active on fiscal issues, relentlessly pursuing a balanced budget and then protecting that achievement from politically popular “raids” on the budget.
The Coalition’s proposals on welfare reforms served as middle-ground markers which laid the foundation for the bipartisanship necessary to bring about fundamental reforms, and helped set into law policies reflecting the “common sense, conservative compassion” so often attached to the group’s efforts.
In the 107th Congress, the Coalition intends to continue to make a difference in Congress by forging middle-ground, bipartisan answers to the current challenges facing the Country. A top priority will be to finish the job of truly balancing the budget without counting the Social Security trust funds. Other early efforts will include campaign finance reform, strengthening Social Security, and health care reform. The group also expects to be involved in education, regulatory reform, taxes, defense and veterans affairs.
Excerpts from Letter from 17 Senators to Trump Organization: The Trump Organization's continuing financial relationship with President Trump raises concerns about whether it is a pass-through for income that violates the Constitution's two Emoluments Clauses: Article I, Section 9, Clause 8 on foreign Emoluments; and Article II, Clause 7 on domestic Emoluments. Please answer the following questions to help Congress understand:
Legal Analysis: (Cato Institute, "Emoluments Clause vs. Trump Empire," 11/29/16): The wording of the Emoluments clause points one way to resolution: Congress can give consent, as it did in the early years of the Republic to presents received by Ben Franklin. It can decide what it is willing to live with in the way of Trump conflicts. If it misjudges public opinion, it will pay a political price at the next election.
FOIA argument: (ACLU Center for Democracy, "FOIA Request," 1/19/17): We filed our first Freedom of Information Act request of the Trump Era, seeking documents relating President Trump's conflicts of interest relating to his business connections. When Trump took the oath of office, he didn't take the steps necessary to ensure that he and his family's business interests comply with the Constitution. Some have even argued that upon taking the oath of office, the new president is already violating the Emoluments Clause.
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