The Albany Times Union wrote an interesting piece about Democratic presidential candidate Kirsten Gillibrand. I am going to rewrite it a bit and add commentary. To read the original.
U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand was 8 years old, sitting at a table in the city’s Democratic campaign headquarters, stuffing envelopes with women loyal to their organizer, Gillibrand’s grandmother, Dorothea “Polly” Noonan.
Gillibrand grew up in the midst of a backroom-dealing Capital Region political dynasty.
“I’m very much taking a page out of her playbook in my own life,” Gillibrand said admitting she is like her adulterous, corrupt and violent grandma.
Noonan, a famously foulmouthed daughter of working-class Irish immigrants, was the closest confidante, adulterous lover, and companion of longtime and corrupt Albany Mayor Erastus Corning II.
She wielded power – self-serving and notably small town – throughout the 1970s and 1980s as part of the corrupt city and county Democratic machine.
Gillibrand, a U.S. senator since 2009, credits Noonan with inspiring her entrance into politics — dedicating her 2014 autobiography “Off the Sidelines” to “Grandma.”
Decades after Noonan’s heyday, Gillibrand entered the crowded Democratic field for president.
Gillibrand moved from New York City corporate attorney defending Big Tobacco to an upset winner of a U.S. House seat in a Republican-dominated district in 2006.
She did so by espousing Republican values in her campaign including strong support for Second Amendment rights.
Shortly after winning her congressional seat in 2006, Gillibrand said of her grandmother, “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”
Three years later, using her backroom Democratic connections, she was the choice over more-experienced candidates by Democratic Gov. David Paterson to fill Hillary Clinton’s U.S. Senate seat after the former first lady’s appointment as secretary of state.
She promptly turned against the conservative values of those who had elected her to congress and campaigned as a liberal to win the statewide seat.
Former President Bill Clinton stumped for Gillibrand. She gratefully accepted his and wife Hillary’s help then later turned against him for his harassing and raping women.
She faced criticism for abandoning conservative views after joining the Senate and has been accused of turning on fellow Democrats who helped her, including former President Bill Clinton and U.S. Sen. Al Franken, in the wake of the #MeToo movement.
Some say Gillibrand’s offshoot movement should be called #mefirst.
“She will change like the wind and is completely feckless,” say political observers who watched the lady shift positions as it benefits her at the moment.
While she acts like her grandmother in deeds, it is not known if she is as foul mouthed as her salty tongued inspiration.
Gillibrand said in her book that her grandmother could put expletives together “as long as a string of Christmas tree lights.”
Noonan was accused in 1982 of punching another woman in the ribs outside a Democratic meeting.
In 1980, then Times Union reporter Alan C. Miller was at Albany Democratic headquarters on the night of the Democratic presidential primary between President Jimmy Carter, who was backed by the Corning-Noonan local machine, and U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy.
Kennedy beat Carter by 18 percentage points. Miller heard Noonan say multiple times why she thought Kennedy succeeded: “It was all those Jews,” she said — a line that appeared in the second sentence of Miller’s report the next day.
Afterward, Noonan insisted that her lover Mayor Corning stop talking to the Times Union reporter. He never spoke to him again.
When asked last week about Noonan’s comment, Gillibrand said she had never heard it before, and found it offensive.
(Gillibrand also said she never heard of Nxivm, the sex slaver cult that brands women, despite her father being a consultant, and later being sued for sexual harassment, her stepmother being a Kool-aid drinking member who had to be rescued from the cult, Gillibrand accepting contributions from Clare Bronfman, and Nxivm buying a front table at a Hillary fund raising event where Gillibrand sat wit Nancy Salzman and other Nxians.)
Noonan first met then-state Sen. Corning when she was a 22-year-old secretary for the Scenic Hudson Commission. The two — both married — had what Gillibrand acknowledged in her autobiography was an “unconventional” relationship.
They were adulterous lovers.
Corning was often at Noonan’s house on Noonan Lane at night drinking a scotch, or two or three – and there still in the morning to take Gillibrand’s mother [his daughter] and her siblings to school.
Corning died in 1983. His insurance firm, Albany Associates, had a curious legal clause that allowed the business to be transferred to the Noonans over his own family.
Let no one say that Polly did not know how to get plenty of crackers.
Another beneficiary of the Albany machine was Gillibrand’s father, Douglas Rutnik, who at one time both served as Albany County public defender and ran a private law firm representing clients with business before the city.
Upon Rutnik’s appointment as county public defender in 1966 at age 26 —the year Gillibrand was born — a Knickerbocker News editorial noted Rutnik had also worked for a state Assemblyman.
“The plums are being kept in the political family,” the editorial said. “Them that has, gets.”
Gillibrand’s mother was also a partner in the couple’s law firm, Rutnik & Rutnik, and at one time served as an attorney for the city. They knew how to double and triple and when time permitted quadruple dip.
The Times Union wrote about the Rutnik law firm’s questionable deals, including allegations in 1991 that the Rutniks profited by low-balling clients in a Pine Bush land sale that eventually netted a close associate more than $4 million.
If it was not for their connections they would have been disbarred.
But the ill gotten gains helped them pay for Gillibrand’s education – so it is alright.
Polly Rutnik told the Times Union it was her ex-husband who dealt with real estate and development in their firm.
“We never represented the same person; it didn’t involve me at all,” she said.
Gillibrand was earning her law degree from UCLA in the early 1990s, and was interning at the high-powered Davis Polk & Wardwell New York City law firm where she would later work.
When she became a full-time associate at Davis Polk, Gillibrand defended Philip Morris against civil lawsuits and a criminal probe by the FBI — at one point flying to a laboratory in Germany where the company was allegedly keeping its health studies a secret.
Her work was so astoundingly good that some credit her with saving tobacco execs from prison and helped to keep profits safe for the US cigarette makers during the worst crackdown Big Tobacco ever faced.
Gillbrand can take credit with helping Big Tobacco retain plenty of earnings which it used to enable millions of teens to get started on the habit that will lead them ultimately to lung cancer.
Many of those then-young smokers are just now getting lung cancer, but are expected to live long enough to vote for Gillibrand in the Democratic primary.
Back then, as she vigorously defended Big Tobacco from prosecution, the companies thankfully had time to develop revenue-generating sources in Third World countries that would soon exceed their US domestic profits.
Gillibrand was one of the true pioneers of rescuing Big Tobacco. Some say she was the architect of Big Tobacco avoiding criminal penalties for lying to Americans about the dangers of smoking and giving them “breathing time” to start up Third World marketing, while maintaining their penetration in the US market despite the adverse publicity and legal risks.
While Gillibrand likes to downplay her tremendous role with Big Tobacco, there was truly no more clever enabler of Big Tobacco at its most critical time.
Her photograph surely must adorn the walls of hell, along with other psychopaths, who made selling and advertising cancer producing cigarettes to teens their lucrative living.
Gillibrand became wealthy in her own right by protecting the cancer purveyors.
Dennis Glazer, the former head of litigation at Davis Polk and husband of NY state’s chief judge, Janet DiFiore, said Gillibrand should not be signaled out for her work for Big Tobacco’s cancer industry.
There were dozens of attorneys working on the Philip Morris cases in those years.
“All she was doing was the best job she could,” he said.
Gillibrand now says her work at the “big fancy law firm,” made her “deeply unhappy.”
“I wasn’t making the difference I was supposed to make,” she said. “It’s why I searched so long to get into public service.”
But she is being too modest. She was making a difference. Without her, Big Tobacco execs might have gone to prison. Her trip to Germany to try to hide and/or rewrite the findings of scientists to try to show that Big Tobacco knew nothing about cigarettes causing cancer – (or that cigarettes did not even cause cancer) is a gift not only to Big Tobacco but to the art of shyster-ing that will be long remembered among disreputable lawyers everywhere.
She should write a book (or someone should about her role for Big Tobacco) and curiously too little of her expert legal work is mentioned in her autobiography.
While working in New York representing cancer sellers, Gillibrand met her future subby-hubby, Jonathan, a British national who was studying at Columbia University. They married in 2001. Unlike his wife, Jonathan Gillibrand has no career. He worked in various jobs since she first won office in 2006 — for venture capital firms, a company that builds outpatient surgery facilities, and a limited liability company that tried to bring Formula One racing to New Jersey.
He couldn’t stick at any of them.
Recently Gillibrand ordered her husband to stop working in order to be a house husband during her presidential run. Gillibrand sent her the elder son, 15-year-old Theo, to boarding school and her younger son, 10-year-old Henry, attends school in Washington, D.C.
It is not known if, like her married grandmother Polly, Gillibrand is having an adulterous affairs with any rich and powerful men in DC or elsewhere.
While her grandmother was clearly her inspiration and role model, she was not the only dishonest politico that inspired Gillibrand. Hillary Clinton kickstarted her political ambitions in the mid-1990s.
In her autobiography, Gillibrand said she started attending small fundraisers in New York City with the hope of getting even a minute to talk with Clinton.
After years of attending Democratic fundraisers and frustrated at not getting hired to work as a prosecutor for U.S. attorneys’ offices, Gillibrand, in her book, wrote that she approached then U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew M. Cuomo around 2000 about getting a job.
Gillibrand’s grandmother had raised enough campaign funds for Cuomo’s father, the late Gov. Mario Cuomo that she was entitled to a job.
Back then Mario Cuomo rewarded Noonan and her lover Mayor Erastus Corning’s support by appointing Noonan vice chairwoman of the state Democratic Party in 1982. She held that post for two years.
Andrew Cuomo paid off his father’s debts too [and realized this would be a good and generous family to befriend] and hired Gillibrand as a so-called “special counsel” at HUD.
She briefly moved to Washington, D.C.. At the 2000 Democratic National Convention, Gillibrand’s taxpayer-funded job was to chauffeur Cuomo’s wife, Kerry Kennedy, around Los Angeles.
Gillibrand’s next job was at a different corporate New York City law firm retained to defend Big Tobacco.
She moved from New York City back to the Albany area in 2003. With her family connections and their ability to get confidential information leaked to them by corrupt state police, Gillibrand chose the 20th District because of her interest in targeting U.S. Rep. John E. Sweeney, a six-year Republican incumbent whose often erratic private behavior — later revealed as the result of his struggles with alcoholism — had begun to bleed into his public life.
She and her little guy bought a house for $895,000 in the 20th district in Greenport, Columbia County.
Gillibrand had another ally — an unlikely one — in Republican Gov. George Pataki’s office.
Her daddy Douglas Rutnik — who had separated from Gillibrand’s mother — was dating Zenia Mucha, a top gubernatorial aide and close ally of Pataki.
Following the 9/11 attacks, Sweeney — who was a member of the House Appropriations Committee — developed a financing formula to ensure that New York City and then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg received a fair share of the aid to help rebuild the city.
The move infuriated Pataki, who wanted to control all the money for his political benefit and decided to work with his aid’s boyfriend Doug Rutnik to get his daughter elected in place of Sweeney.
They obtained through illegal channels dirt on Sweeney.
By early 2006, people connected to Pataki and Mucha were aiding Gillibrand, including introducing her to big political donors in Albany. Her Big Tobacco allies also helped out.
About two weeks before the election, the dirt-dealing group illegally obtained a confidential copy of a State Police report that documented a 911 call Sweeney’s wife had made in 2005. The congressman’s wife, Gaia, told a dispatcher her husband had knocked her around.
“I don’t know how it was released,” Gillibrand said, referring to the confidential report.
Gillibrand won – and in a district where Republicans had a 2-1 enrollment edge. The district stretched from Poughkeepsie to Lake Placid. She was the first Democrat to hold the seat since 1978.
But she was a Democrat in name only. She espoused Republican values in order to win and keep her seat.
In Congress, Democrats called her Tracy Fleck – after the two-faced character who would do anything to win in the movie The Election.
During her acceptance speech the night of Nov. 7, 2006, she thanked her grandmother, saying Noonan “inspired me at such a young age.”
“She is up in heaven watching us now,” Gillibrand said.
But some observers are not too sure it is heaven from where she is watching.