Stefanik fires back after ‘Washington insider’ accusation

Congressional candidate Elise Stefanik’s campaign has responded to a recent accusation made by Matt Doheny, her rival in the June 24 Republican primary.

Doheny called Stefanik a “Washington, D.C. insider” in a Enterprise story published Saturday.

“Sending somebody from Washington to fix Washington makes no sense,” Doheny told the Enterprise.

Charlotte Guyett, Stefanik’s campaign press secretary, shot back Monday.

“Elise got in this race last summer and has earned the overwhelming support of the Republican county committees, the Conservative party, and numerous grassroots groups,” Guyett wrote by email. “Multi-millionaire Matt Doheny is a political opportunist who ran and lost twice, and is trying again to buy his way into Congress. His negative attacks failed before and Republican voters will reject them in June.”

Doheny was the Republican nominee in 2010 and 2012 for the North Country congressional district, which in 2010 was called New York’s 23rd and by 2012 was realigned and renamed the 21st. Both times he lost narrowly to Plattsburgh Democrat Bill Owens. Doheny decided to run again this year after Owens announced in January that he wouldn’t seek re-election.

Washington townhouse

Guyett also answered questions about Stefanik’s residence. Guyett said Stefanik owns 20 percent of a rental unit in Washington that is an “investment property.” Stefanik lived in Washington after graduating from college in 2006. While in Washington, Stefanik was a staffer to George W. Bush and a debate director for vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan, who is also a congressman.

Stefanik hosted a fundraiser there for Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty after his failed presidential campaign, in order to pay back his campaign debt, according to Politico.

The Hill reports that Stefanik’s townhouse accrued $4,316.71 in penalties and interest due to late property tax payments between 2011 and 2013.

Stefanik moved to Willsboro full-time in 2013 to work at her family’s plywood business located outside of Albany, and soon after that she started campaigning in her run for Congress. Guyett said Stefanik always voted in New York and considers Willsboro her primary residence. A deed to Stefanik’s Willsboro home is registered with her mother Melanie Stefanik, according to the Essex County’s real property and clerk’s offices.

“Elise’s family has owned the same home in Willsboro since she was 3 years old,” Guyett wrote. “She spent a significant part of her upbringing here and while she had opportunities to be the first in her family to graduate from college and work in Washington.”

No-tax-hike pledge

On Tuesday, Doheny continued to challenge his opponents to sign the Americans for Tax Reform’s Taxpayer Protection Pledge.

“It’s a simple pledge not to raise taxes, and it’s a pledge I have taken proudly,” Doheny wrote in a press release. “Instead of a commitment not to raise taxes, we hear double talk and obfuscation.”

Stefanik announced Tuesday she would not sign the tax pledge.

“That is why I will only make one pledge during the course of my campaign and that pledge is to you, the people of this district,” Stefanik wrote. “Unlike other candidates in this race, I will not sign a pledge from any Washington DC based special interest group.”

Americans for Tax Reform, founded and led by anti-tax activist Grover Norquist, joined in the criticism, posting an article on its homepage Tuesday headlined, “Elise Stefanik Leaves the Door Open to Higher Taxes.”

Also on the ballot to succeed Owens will be Aaron Woolf of Elizabethtown and Manhattan, a Democrat, and the Green Party’s Matt Funiciello of Glens Falls. Stephen Burke of Macomb was recently bumped from the Democratic primary ballot after the state Board of Elections dismissed some of his petition signatures, but he is appealing that decision in court. His hearing began this week and is to resume on Thursday, according to the Post-Star of Glens Falls.

Contact Matthew Turner at 518-891-2600 ext. 25 or mturner@adirondackdailyenterprise.com.