Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Disappearing Congresswoman

Two years ago Kirsten Gillibrand, an unknown New York City lawyer with barely any public service, was headed toward unseating Congressman John Sweeney. Her win had nothing to do with the issues. She won for one simple reason: I'm Not John Sweeney.

Now there is an issue. A legitimate issue. Congresswoman Gillibrand represented tobacco giant Philip Morris. Not for six months. Not for a year. For five years.

Yet, Congresswoman Gillibrand has expunged those five years from her life. Her House of Representatives and campaign biographies purposely exclude her experience. Poof! Just like that, five years of Kirsten's professional career disappeared. They don't exist. Officially.

I've written the official biographies of my employers while a Capitol Hill staffer. The responsibility is an important one because Hill press secretarys and communication directors are called upon to explain, promote and defend the boss' prior experience to the media.

To go over a draft official biography with a Member of Congress is a painstaking process. The Members pay meticulous attention to their careers, and the overwhelming majority are proud of the work that took them to the halls of Congress.

Not Kirsten Gillibrand.

It's convenient how she has forgotten five years of her career. You'd think she fell asleep in 1995, woke up in 2006 and decided to run for Congress.

As this blog was the first to report, Congresswoman Gillibrand runs away from her career for a serious reason. She well remembers the political environment she was working in during the 1990's. The attacks on her client Big Tobacco were neverending. We heard they're nicotine pushers. Purveyors of death. Liars. Thugs. Frauds. Hustlers.

Who would want to be associated with that gang? Not a Member of Congress, for sure.

And so yesterday it was no surprise to see Congresswoman Gillibrand's response when her opponent Sandy Treadwell unveiled a new ad highlighting her smokey past. It was near-hysterical.

Congresswoman Gillibrand can become as indignant as she wants, and it remains a fact that for five years she was a counsel to Philip Morris. Despite her efforts to pull a page out of 1984 and delete years of her life, her constituents are now more familiar with her record than they were in 2006. After all, this is the same woman who constantly reminds us how she believes in "transparency."

Well, Kirsten, you're transparent now.