Caroline Kennedy’s ride with Uncle Ted to the U.S. Senate is not going very well. In fact, you could say it’s jumped the bridge.
We’ve privately heard two major, behind the scenes reasons, why the Caroline campaign is losing air and sinking fast.
Reason 1: Governor David Paterson has a potential Blagojevich problem.
Reason 2: Senator Chuck Schumer is A, if not THE, secret hand against the Caroline power grab.
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Governor David Paterson’s potential Blagojevich problem:
In Caroline Goes Plouffe we stated that the “Caroline Kennedy power grab is running out of air due to the resistance from Hillary supporters and because of the stench fouling out from Chicago.” Since that writing Caroline Kennedy has made repeated ridiculous public appearances which have severely damaged her.
More ridiculous however have been the denials by the Kennedy machine that Uncle Ted is the main force pushing the Caroline Kennedy selection – the man behind the wheel.
The denials are so obviously false the question becomes “Why bother?” The answer might lie with Governor David Paterson’s former chief of staff.
Upstate New York journalists have not been fooled as to who is behind the wheel. They know Ted Kennedy is once again in the driver’s seat:
There is much that is off-putting about this trial balloon. It’s being pushed exclusively in Washington, in Hyannis by her uncle, Sen. Ted Kennedy, and in New York City. There is no indication from any upstate political voices that Caroline Kennedy has a grasp of the problems afflicting our 62 counties, or up to now, done much to find out. She hasn’t spoken out on issues, or policy, or even personalities except for Obama’s. [snip]
So whose agenda is satisfied by appointing Caroline Kennedy the improbable junior senator from New York? Obama’s and Ted Kennedy’s, certainly. Senator Kennedy’s endorsement of Obama came at a critical time in the war with Hillary, and may have tipped the balance. Another Senator Kennedy would be a nice payback. Except, of course, it was our senator who got burned by the Kennedy maneuver. I can’t imagine if Hillary has anything to say in the matter that she would go along, because it would be a kick in the teeth for Caroline to follow her in office.
Before Caroline Kennedy made her power grab overt, reports had Uncle Ted on December 8 making moves for her selection. The Kennedy machine has been active in denying Uncle Ted is behind the wheel:
Senator Edward M. Kennedy’s office on Tuesday denied a report in The Times that said he had been working behind the scenes to have his niece Caroline Kennedy appointed by Gov. David A. Paterson to fill the seat that will be vacated by Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton when she is confirmed as secretary of state.
Citing Democratic aides, the report on Tuesday said that Mr. Kennedy, 76, a Democrat from Massachusetts, had made calls to the governor and two fellow Democratic senators, Charles E. Schumer of New York and Robert Menendez of New Jersey, to talk up Ms. Kennedy for the post. [snip]
Democratic aides told The Times on Monday that Mr. Kennedy had spoken with the three men and talked up Ms. Kennedy’s capacity to mount consecutive costly statewide Senate races in 2010 and 2012 by tapping into her family’s extensive fund-raising network.
Uncle Ted promised Governor Paterson and Senator Schumer that Caroline Kennedy would not financially “seek help from Mr. Paterson or Mr. Schumer”.
The New York Times noted that “The ability to raise significant money is a key concern for Mr. Paterson” in part because the Governor will also be running for re-election in 2010 along with whomever he appoints to the U.S. Senate.
Governor David Paterson inherited the Governorship when Governor Spitzer was forced to resign following the discovery of his relationship with a high priced sex worker. This means that Governor Paterson was not elected on his own as Governor due to a statewide network of relationships and fundraising but rather because he won election in a strong Democratic year (2006) while on the ticket with a very popular candidate Eliot Spitzer.
Once he became Governor, Paterson wisely exposed the skeletons in his own life. Since then Governor Paterson has been a good Governor. Governor Paterson is no fool. He realizes that a governor forced to balance budgets, cut services and raise taxes due to a recession is a governor in peril of losing.
The Governor, who is legally blind, can also be said to have lost his right hand this past year. That right hand is called Charles J. O’Byrne.
Gov. David A. Paterson’s top aide resigned on Friday, stripping the governor of his right-hand man just as he prepares to tackle a worsening fiscal crisis that could make or break his first term.
For the sake of brevity we will forego, at this time, a full exploration of Charles J. O’Byrne. Suffice to say O’Byrne was extremely close to Governor Paterson and O’Byrne wielded a great deal of power in New York State.
“He’s the secretary, the counsel and the spokesman,” said one administration official in an interview earlier this week. “He kind of holds all three of the top jobs in the Paterson administration.”
Some allies of Mr. Paterson saw Mr. O’Byrne as the glue that held the administration together.
O’Byrne was forced to resign because he did not pay his taxes:
The news of Mr. O’Byrne’s departure came just five days after The New York Post reported that he had failed to file federal and state tax returns for the years 2001 to 2005. [snip]
As Mr. Paterson’s top assistant, Mr. O’Byrne has been central to the administration’s decision-making and has been an important Albany gatekeeper. The governor, who took office in March after his fellow Democrat, Eliot Spitzer, resigned in disgrace, defended Mr. O’Byrne after The Post reported on Mr. O’Byrne’s tax problems over the weekend.
Mr. Paterson said that he first learned of Mr. O’Byrne’s tax problems in 2004, when Mr. Paterson, then the leader of the Democratic minority in the State Senate, was in the process of hiring Mr. O’Byrne, a former Jesuit priest whose career has included corporate law and speechwriting for Howard Dean’s 2004 presidential campaign.
The story of Charles J. O’Byrne took a comic turn when his lawyer claimed he failed to pay his taxes from 2001 to 2005 because he suffered from “late-filing syndrome” a hitherto unknown condition in the medical and/or legal community.
Unfortunately, the novel and dubious “late-filing syndrome” defense by O’Byrne’s lawyer, Richard Kestenbaum, drew attention to the odd story.
According to documents released by Mr. Kestenbaum, Mr. O’Byrne did not finish paying off his roughly $300,000 tax debt until Tuesday, three days after his tax delinquency was revealed by The New York Post.
That payment timetable contradicts statements by Mr. Paterson and Mr. O’Byrne that the debt had been settled.
The powerful Charles O’Byrne, right hand to Governor Paterson up to very late October, is a very interesting man – “late-filing syndrome” or not. O’Byrne is also a close friend to the Kennedys.
Mr. O’Byrne officiated at the wedding of John F. Kennedy Jr. and Carolyn Bessette and, three years later, said Mass at Mr. Kennedy’s funeral, after the couple died in a plane crash. He has been close to the family of Jean Kennedy Smith, Senator Edward M. Kennedy’s sister, having befriended Ms. Smith’s son Stephen Smith Jr. when they attended Columbia Law School. He also counseled the family during the 1991 rape trial of another son, William Kennedy Smith, who was acquitted.
The former right hand to Governor Paterson found himself in need of money. The former right hand reached out to Kennedy pockets.
Gov. David A. Paterson’s top aide turned to the Kennedy family, as well as his own family, a college friend and a number of banks, to raise money to pay off delinquent state and federal taxes and penalties of more than $200,000, according to state records. [snip]
Senator George H. Winner Jr., Republican of Elmira and the chairman of the Senate’s investigations panel, said: “There are now serious financial and ethical questions being raised, and these questions warrant a closer examination by appropriate, independent government authorities.”
“The best course of action in Mr. O’Byrne’s case, for everyone involved, must be a full public airing and disclosure of the facts,” he added. [snip]
Ms. Smith has lent Mr. O’Byrne at least $5,000, according to state financial disclosure forms. Mr. O’Byrne also received gifts worth at least $1,000 last year from Ms. Smith and her daughter, Kym M. Smith, according to Mr. O’Byrne’s form. Mr. O’Byrne has also served as a trustee of three Smith/Kennedy family trusts, receiving at least $1,000 annually in income.
The above report of Ted Kennedy’s sister lending $5,000 to Governor Paterson’s former right hand man was published on October 20, 2008. By October 22, 2008 that $5,000 figure rose:
Two family members loaned him $5,000 to $20,000 each, while Jean Kennedy Smith, the sister of Senator Edward M. Kennedy, and Brian Krisberg, a college classmate, loaned Mr. O’Byrne $60,000 to $100,000 each, according to his lawyers.
Governor Paterson will run for election/re-election in 2010. Governor Paterson should not burden himself with associations that will hurt his 2010 campaign. Governor Paterson is thus far not implicated in any way in any dealings or business relationships between O’Byrne and the Kennedy machine. Already O’Byrne will prove to be a burden however:
Gov. David A. Paterson was aware for years that a top aide had a continuing tax problem, his communications director said on Sunday night, though a key unanswered question is whether Mr. Paterson knew that the aide failed to file and pay taxes even after assuring him that he would resolve the problem. [snip]
Mr. Paterson became aware of the matter again during a background check in early 2007, when Mr. O’Byrne was following him to the lieutenant governor’s office. Mr. Paterson has said he kept Mr. O’Byrne on even after he offered to step aside.
The revelations will almost certainly complicate the administration’s efforts to close a $1.2 billion budget gap in a special legislative session next month. Mr. O’Byrne is the governor’s chief negotiator and has functioned as the administration’s enforcer — a role that will be needed in contentious budget negotiations.
Republicans have largely held their fire, though Liz Feld, the Republican candidate for the 37th Senate district in Westchester County, called on Sunday for Mr. O’Byrne to resign.
“Voters are exasperated with the double standards coming out of Albany,” she said. “They further undermine our confidence in government at the very time when confidence is most needed. Mr. O’Byrne’s resignation would be appropriate for the good of the state.”
Governor Paterson of New York needs to rid himself of any Blagojevich type conflicts. Thus far Governor Paterson is completely clear of any even slight impropriety. However in an election questions will be raised about how and why he selected the next U.S. Senator from New York. Any question that “financial assistance” to his “right hand” came from the Kennedy machine in exchange for an appointment to the U.S. Senate must be drowned now.
Caroline Kennedy refuses to disclose any financial information to the public.
Governor Paterson for his own good must reject the Kennedy machine’s myriad attempts, however subtle or distant, to be gifted a Senate seat.
The Obama crime lords are already moving to Washington, D.C. They must not be allowed to open a field office in Albany, New York via Hyannis.
[Next: Schumer’s secret opposition to Caroline.]