1st Congressional District Residents Protest Randy Altschuler

(East Setauket, N.Y.) — Residents of New York’s 1st Congressional District protested the corporate connections of Randy Altschuler, the Republican candidate for Congress in the 1st Congressional District. They were reacting to a new report by Citizen of New York finding that Mr. Altschuler, the former head of an outsourcing giant, received thousands of dollars from companies seeking a weakening of financial reform legislation, the repeal of health care reform and tax policies favoring the needs of the wealthy and corporations over those of the middle class. Mr. Altschuler is running against incumbent Timothy Bishop (D).
“Our new report details that Randy Altschuler’s campaign is funded through his own personal wealth and corporate interests rather than the people in the 1st Congressional District,” said Bob Cohen, Policy Director of Citizen Action of New York and the primary report author. “Mr. Altschuler received significant funding from the financial services industry and benefited from an onslaught of ads that lied to seniors about health care reform. It’s clear that Randy Altschuler’s corporate sponsors expect to get a good return on their investment, and that’s to get a Congressman who will turn his back on financial reform, repeal health care reform and oppose fair tax policies that are in the interests of working families.” Congress is expected to take up the expiration of the Bush tax cuts next month during its “lame duck” session.

“We need a Congressman who’s going to serve the interests of the 1st Congressional District, not someone who’s beholden to corporate fatcats like Bank of America. Randy Altschuler is not that Congressman,” said Lisa Tyson, the Director of the Long Island Progressive Coalition. “Bank of America recently resumed its foreclosures on families in Long Island and elsewhere despite a pending 50 state Attorneys-General investigation of their foreclosure practices. The new Citizen Action report is frightening because it raises the question of whether corporate interests are trying to buy our democracy and thwart the will of the people of the east end of Long Island.”

The report, “Corporate Cash, Personal Wealth: Randy Altschuler’s Campaign Funding and What it Means for Long Island,” is based on data from the OpenSecrets.org web page maintained by the Center for Responsive Politics and press accounts. Among the report’s findings are as follows:

Randy Altschuler is funded primarily by a combination of corporate interests and his own personal funds rather than by individuals, raising serious questions as to whether he is accountable to corporate donors or to the working families of the 1st Congressional District. Two-thirds (65%) of his total contributions were from his own personal funds and PACs rather than from individuals.

Of Mr. Altschuler’s contributions from other than his personal funds, a disproportionate share were from the financial services industry and other industry groups with a vested interest in lax regulation — the kind of regulation that nearly led to the collapse of the U.S. economy in the fall of 2008. Specifically, he received $217,546 from the securities and investment industry, $37,600 from the real estate industry, and $31,560 from lawyers and law firms.

Mr. Altschuler, a strong health care reform opponent, benefitted enormously from support from corporate -funded PACs that oppose reform. Specifically, he indirectly received at least $147,694 in the form of advertising targeted at Timothy Bishop, a strong health care reform supporter. The ads were funded by the “60 Plus Association,” a so-called “Super PAC” that has placed more than $4 million in ads nationwide against House Democrats. Factcheck.org has found that the advertisements are seriously misleading.

Randy Altschuler received a disproportionate share of his contributions from out-of-state contributors and from those outside of Long Island, likely reflecting the importance of Mr. Altschuler’s candidacy to out-of-state corporate interests. 41% of his contributions have come from out of state as compared to 20% for Tim Bishop, and $141,320 of his contributions have come from Long Island, as compared to $429,051 for Mr. Bishop. Generally, incumbents receive more out of state money than challengers.

The report recommends the passage of public financing of elections legislation, so that candidates can focus on the needs of working people in their communities rather the needs of powerful special interests that fund their campaigns. The bill, co-sponsored by Tim Bishop, has a “matching fund” provision to help candidates who are running against wealthy self-funded candidates like Altschuler.

“I am here in support of Congressman Tim Bishop, a man who truly represents the best interests of his constituents,” said Paul Gold, a member of the Long Island Progressive Coalition. “He stands for fair elections reform and transparency in campaign contributions. In contrast, Randy Altschuler receives disproportionate funding from the financial services industry and the insurance industry, which benefit enormously from lax regulation and opposition to financial and healthcare reform. He and his party would take us back to the Bush years of corporate abuse and financial deregulation, the failed policies that created the economic mess we find ourselves in today.”