Is the Democrat Party the Party of the People? Is the Democrat Party the Party of fairness? Is the Democrat Party the Party that cares — cares about the environment, voter suppression, jobs, quality of life for the poor, and, most of all, the absence of a country club ruling class?
These questions often are the beginning of a debate — sometimes civil, sometimes not. Care about the environment (private jets)? Voter suppression (“I’m concerned that if we don’t impeach this president, he will get re-elected”)? Jobs (NAFTA)? Quality of life for the poor (Chicago, Detroit, Baltimore)? Absence of a country club ruling class (Superdelegates)?
Democrats are in a state of upheaval. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez endorsed Bernie Sanders. Rashida Tlaib booed Hillary Clinton. Michael Bloomberg introduced a plan to increase income taxes by $5 Trillion. Joe Biden bragged about withholding $1 Billion of US foreign aid to Ukraine, unless Ukraine fired a prosecutor in six hours — a prosecutor investigating Hunter Biden’s possible role in Ukrainian corruption. Allegedly, Bernie Sanders’ wife got 15% commissions on “ad buys” she placed for Bernie with campaign funds. Elizabeth Warren decimated the concept of candor.
But, it’s politics. Nobody began the 2020 Presidential election cycle praising the character of Democrats or Republicans. So, rather than pretend otherwise, let’s just take a moment to add a news article to our collection of news articles about politicians, this time about one of the leaders of the Party of the People. Set forth below is an article published on nypost.com.
The question for We The People is simple. During the ongoing upheaval in the Party of the People, why isn’t there any debate about the conduct of Kirsten Gillibrand, Bernie Sander’s wife, Elizabeth Warren, and Joe Biden?
Stephen B. Benisch, February 2, 2020
Kirsten Gillibrand campaign spent $57,000 on flowers
By Jon Levine
February 1, 2020
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand dipped into her campaign funds for $57,000 worth of flowers, dozens of parking tickets and multiple transatlantic flights, a Post review of federal election filings over the past decade found.
Since 2009, the Albany Democrat’s campaign paid at least $4,250 to Washington, DC, — using the murky moniker “DC treasurer” in its Federal Election Commission filings. The payments ranged from $50 to $730 and went to PO Box 2014. That box is used by the DC Department of Motor Vehicles for “parking, photo enforcement, or minor moving violation[s],” a DMV spokesman confirmed to The Post.
“There is a prohibition on using campaign funds of a federal candidate committee for personal use purposes,” an FEC spokesman told The Post, saying the charges would only have been kosher if racked up in the service of some official responsibility.
At least 25 such tickets were recorded. But they were the tip of the disbursement-berg.
The 53-year-old junior senator dropped at least $57,300 on flowers — including $227 for flower deliveries in France. The lawmaker tends to favor upscale city shops, largely eschewing florists from from her native Albany — or anywhere upstate. Gillibrand’s largest single flower expenditure was to New York City’s PlantShed, where she dropped $1,833.17 in January 2012. Her favorite New York florist was Manhattan’s Zeze Flowers — where she spent roughly $16,850 over the years.
The flowers were offered as gifts for supporters and fundraiser hosts, according to the campaign, which declined to provide further details.
Gillibrand’s Senate fund also shelled out $12,500 for tickets on British Airways, Aer Lingus and Iceland Air. The senator’s husband, venture capitalist Jonathan Gillibrand, is originally from England and his family still lives there.
“Her husband’s parents, who are loaded, live in London and they go there to spend the holidays, Kirsten and her family,” one former Gillibrand staffer told The Post. “They always go at least at Christmas and maybe more. I actively recall British Airways. I know that because I dropped her off there. I was in the car when she was dropped off there a couple of times early on.”
The senator recorded 12 payments for travel-related expenses to British Airways. International flights charged to the campaign were recorded in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2016 and 2018.
During one such visit in April 2018, Gillibrand also retained the services of a chauffeur — a $219 charge she also billed to her Senate campaign.
Gillibrand reps said the foreign travel was for overseas fundraisers with the American ex-pat community.
In addition to commercial air travel, Gillibrand also has a taste for private planes, spending $462,900 on flights provided by boutique charter service Zen Air.
Over the years, there have also been other splurges.
In December 2011, the senator dropped $390 on an unknown item from Hermès of Paris. The filing earmarked the purchase as “office expenses.” An additional $435 went to the luxury retailer to buy gifts for supporters. There was also $500 for fine art photography from the Virgin Islands, and a $300 charge to New York’s Playwrights Horizon Theater for “research.”
Gillibrand reps said the Broadway charge was to send a staffer to watch “The True” — a play about Gillibrand’s grandmother.
“These are routine campaign expenses compiled over a decade: campaign staff parking tickets, office supplies, thank you gifts for fundraising hosts, and travel costs associated with fundraising overseas,” Gillibrand spokesman Evan Lukaske told The Post.
But a source close to the legislator said, “It doesn’t exactly look good.”
The spending is in stark contrast to Gillibrand’s senior, and apparently more austere, colleague, Sen. Chuck Schumer.
A review of FEC filings from the same time period shows the minority leader never reached into his Senate fund for unpaid parking tickets, spent a mere $1,350 on flowers and generally eschewed the finer things. Supporter gifts were more modest, such as cheesecakes from Junior’s.
Schumer also has a taste for private air travel, but his bills to Air Charter Express were less than a third of Gillbrand’s — $125,000.
Even if the expenditures pass legal muster, pros said they still didn’t pass the smell test.
“Why visit her husband’s family? What does that have to do with campaigning? If I was a donor to Sen. Gillibrand, I would want more information,” said Larry Sabato, a political analyst and professor at the University of Virginia. “If I am going to give her money, I would like to know if it’s going to legitimate campaign purposes, and some of those don’t sound particularly legitimate to me. It may be legal but that doesn’t mean it’s within the spirit of the law.”