1st C.D.: Attack ads show no sign of slowing

Congressman Tim Bishop shakes hands with opponent, congressional Congressman Tim Bishop shakes hands with opponent, congressional candidate Randy Altschuler, at the close of thier debate at the Riverhead Baptist Church. (Sept. 23, 2012) Photo Credit: Newsday/ Thomas A. Ferrara

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Spin Cycle

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Tim Bishop's supporters release an ad attacking Randy Altschuler on outsourcing. Altschuler's supporters counter with a spot assailing Bishop's ethics.

That has been the pattern so far in the heated campaign for New York’s 1st Congressional District, and it shows no signs of slowing.

On Thursday morning, the latest addition will come from the National Republican Congressional Committee. The NRCC will add Bishop, the five-term Southampton Democrat, to its “Corrupt Democrats of 2012” list, and debut a web video highlighting the congressman’s recent controversy involving a constituent who had asked for his help with a fireworks permit.

The brief recap: Sagaponack hedge fund investor Eric Semler asked Bishop for help obtaining the environmental permit he needed to put on a home fireworks show for his son’s bar mitzvah. As Bishop was lending his assistance, his campaign fundraisers wrote Semler about making a donation.

The permits were granted in time for the late May show, and Semler and his wife ultimately gave $5,000 toward the congressman’s reelection. Bishop, in denying any wrongdoing, said that Semler first raised the idea of donating to his campaign, and that his team was simply following up, separate from the official action of his congressional office.

He insisted that neither he nor his team ever made helping the campaign a condition of receiving his help with the permit, which would be a violation of House ethics rules. But the incident has now been the subject of nearly a half dozen TV ads or web videos from Altschuler’s campaign, the NRCC and GOP super PACs.

“New York families are already struggling in a weak economy, they shouldn’t have to be forced to ensure their representative’s loyalty with a check,” NRCC Communications Director Paul Lindsay said in announcing the newest video.

Bishop campaign spokesman Robert Pierce replied that Altschuler’s supporters reliance on ads featuring “unfounded allegations” show desperation.

"The NRCC is in a tough spot," he said. "They can't cut an ad praising Altschuler's business experience, because his business is outsourcing American jobs. They can't cut  an ad praising his budget, because it would raise taxes on the middle class to pay for special tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires."

The ads follow Bishop’s team newest TV ad that highlights Altschuler’s tenure leading OfficeTiger, and another Democratic Super PAC's spot on the issue. The Bishop campaign has been relentless is labeling Altschuler, a St. James Republican, as an “outsourcer” for running a company that helped clients find cheaper, off-site alternatives for many back-office functions -- with many of those alternatives located overseas.

OfficeTiger employed 4,000 people when Altschuler and a partner sold it for $250 million in 2006. About 3,250 of those employees were based overseas, but Altschuler has said that his company only created jobs, including the 750 in the U.S.

As of late Wednesday, independent groups like the NRCC and Super PACs on both sides of the race had spent a total of $1.36 million on advertisements in just over a month.

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