Republicans are feeling confident enough in their current standing ahead of next year’s midterms to focus their energy on some New York House races.
Rep. Tim Bishop (D-NY) has represented New York’s 1st Congressional District in Eastern Long Island since 2003. His seat was previously occupied by Republican Felix Grucci. New York’s CD – 1 has been sending Democrats and Republicans to Washington on a fairly equal basis every few election cycles since the late 1880’s.
Although Bishop has managed to hold on to his seat for five terms, he eked by the last election cycle, winning by only about five percent. The district includes various sections of the Hamptons, a summer playground for wealthy Manhattanites, middle class suburban towns, blue collar neighborhoods, and rural farming areas. Bishop, who lives in South Hampton, is helping the administration promote the Obamacare exchanges despite massive health insurance policy cancellations as a result of the implementation of the law and the shoddy launch of Healthcare.gov. The Long Island pol was one of four New York Democrats who crossed the aisle to support a bill that would allow Americans to keep their current healthcare plans despite receiving letters from their insurance companies saying the new healthcare law would result in the cancellation of their policies.
A health insurance agent told the Beacon Record that numerous businesses in Bishop’s district are becoming frustrated with Healthcare.gov’s failures and going through the arduous process of enrolling in the Obamacare exchanges.
“Many Long Island small businesses are simply dropping their benefits plans because it’s confusing to them,” said Vivienne Wong of Huntington, who sells insurance for business owners, group benefits, and retirement planning products for MassMutual Financial Group, based in Plainview. “This is making it necessary for many people to try to do it on their own and they have little experience in the matter.”
Bishop’s potential Republican challengers are New York State Senator Lee Zeldin and former United States Securities and Exchange Commission Enforcement attorney George Demos who will face off in a primary on June 24. Zeldin received endorsements from New York State GOP Chairman Ed Cox as well as New York State Conservative Party Chairman Mike Long in early October. Both Zeldin and Demos have criticized Bishop over the Congressman’s support of the President’s healthcare law.
“Constituents have voiced nothing but absolute frustration with the rollout of Obamacare. Throughout my district, policies are being cancelled, employee hours are being reduced, deductibles are skyrocketing, premiums for many are increasing and individuals are no longer able to see the same doctors they know and trust,” Senator Zeldin told Breitbart News in an e-mail statement. “They are feeling deceived by President Obama who told an outright lie to sell the plan to the public. They are fed up with the dysfunction ruling in D.C. and they want answers. They deserve answers.”
Zeldin added, “Long Islanders are starting to realize that if they want to keep their doctors, they may have to change their Congressman. I am running for Congress, to put an end to D.C. dysfunction, move our nation past this disaster and get America back on track.”
The two Republicans are also hitting Bishop over an Office of Congressional Ethics investigation. Bishop allegedly helped a constituent get around red tape so the constituent could launch fireworks at his son’s bar mitzvah. According to the report, the nature of the alleged violation says that a Bishop intermediary requested a campaign donation via e-mail from the constituent after dealing with the fireworks permit process. Additionally, the e-mail mentioned performance of Bishop’s official acts previously conducted. The East End Beacon reports:
After learning of Mr. Semler’s issues with the fireworks show, Mr. Bishop contacted Southampton Town Trustee Fred Havemeyer to try to massage the process. (You can call the trustees directly yourselves too if you need help with anything, without asking your congressman to intervene. Their number is 631.287.5717).
On May 22, after calling Mr. Havemeyer, Mr. Bishop sent an email to Mr. Sillerman saying “ok, so just call me the frigging mailman-we are all set…Hey, would you be willing to reach out to him to ask for a contribution? If he donates before June 26, he and his wife can each do 5 large-if it is after June 26, they can each do a max of $2,500.”
Five minutes later, Mr. Sillerman emailed Mr. Semler, saying “So I guess you and your wife really want to donate $5K each to Tim Bishop, right?” Mr. Semler responded, saying “absolutely! how do we do it?” Fourteen minutes later, Mr. Bishop sent an email to Mr. Sillerman stating “maybe we should be calling you the mailman.”
The next day, Mr. Bishop’s finance director, who is his daughter, Molly Bishop, followed up to arrange the donation. Mr. Semler told the Office of Congressional Ethics he never spoke directly with Mr. Bishop about a campaign contribution.
At issue in the ongoing investigation is a section of the congressional ethics manual that states “a solicitation for campaign or political contributions may not be linked with an official action taken or to be taken by a House Member or employee, and a Member may not accept any contribution that is linked with an action that the Member has taken or is being asked to take.”
The report concluded, “The board finds that there is substantial reason to believe that Representative Bishop sought a campaign contribution, through an intermediary associated with his congressional campaign committee, from a constituent, because of or in connection with his performance of an official act.” The issue has since been passed along to the House Ethics Committee.
Bishop, however, released a statement claiming the board “vindicated” him.
“The report released today confirms that the allegations made against me last summer were politically orchestrated, and I am confident that the ongoing review of this matter will show that I acted in good faith to assist a constituent in need.”