Joe Crowley hates Queens. The Congressman, whose gerrymandered district includes parts of the Bronx and Queens has such distain for his home borough that despite wearing the hat of chairman of the Queens Democratic Party he has abandoned us for greener pastures, namely the affluent Washington suburb of Arlington, Va.
According to the New York Post, in 2004 Crowley bought the Virginia house, registered his car and enrolled his three children in the community’s nationally renowned public schools – foregoing New York City’s educational system. Up until the July 8, 2011 article exposing this, Crowley claimed to live in his mother’s house in Woodside even though neighbors never saw him.
“He is a devoted husband and father to three young kids who he wants to spend time with during the work week. He is strongly committed to both his job and family,” said a Crowley spokesperson. However Congress is in session only about 127 days during the calendar year leaving Crowley more than ample time to spend with his family. Since Crowley’s wife and kids rarely visit NYC because of school in Virginia and his wife’s job in Washington, it’s safe to say that neither does Joe.
Most legislators live in their districts, shuttling back and forth to Washington. Some even sleep in their D.C. offices. Not “Virginia Joe” Crowley, he has a large house in the leafy Virginia neighborhood, far from his mom’s house in Woodside, where he claims to live. His official congressional biography and even his Facebook page list his home as 65th Street in Woodside. Once again Crowley’s deceitful career has been exposed.
If Crowley did a good job in Congress and was a fair and involved Chairman of the Queens Democratic Party we might tolerate his move. Unfortunately he’s not even close to being a forceful leader, articulate spokesman, or experienced statesman. Crowley and his machine have been notorious for backing unqualified candidates and knocking competent ones off of the ballot. They have continued the clubhouse politics in New York that dates back to Tammany Hall.
In 2001, Crowley’s 23-year old cousin, Elizabeth, wanted to run for the open council seat in Woodside. But Tom Manton, Joe Crowley and the Queens Democratic machine had their choice for that seat so they convinced her to run for the open seat in the 30th District (Middle Village). She lost to Dennis Gallagher but resurfaced in 2008 after Gallagher was forced out of office in a plea bargain deal for sexually assaulting a woman in his office. After losing in a special election in June 2008, Elizabeth Crowley finally won taking advantage of the Obama landslide. Elizabeth Crowley had absolutely no experience and no involvement with the community, only questionable political and personal ties to disgraced Assemblyman and Union leader, Brian McLaughlin. McLaughlin, who was heavily involved in fundraising for Liz Crowley’s 2001 campaign, was sentenced to 10 years in prison for stealing $3.1 million from Little Leaguers, lawmakers, contractors and his own union.
When it comes to corrupt, unresponsive, do-nothing, wasteful and downright incompetent elected officials, it seems we cornered the market right here in western Queens. And for the most part we have Joe Crowley to thank for that. His most recent hand-picked candidate is David Weprin who had already demonstrated a lack of knowledge on the issues and a severe lack of character when he cowardly backed out of a scheduled debate sponsored by the JPCA and Times Newsweekly newspaper.
To examine how we got to such a sorry state in Queens we need only look at how Joe Crowley came into power. He graduated from Queens College in 1985 with a B.A. in Political Science. After serving a few months as a legislative aid he was tapped by Congressman Tom Manton to be the heir apparent for the 30th State Assembly seat for our area. To say that he was green would be an understatement. He served unremarkably in the NYS Assembly from 1986 to 1998, and was most known for playing guitar and singing with a group of New York assemblymen called the Budget Blues Boys (photo, above).
As a reward for being a good foot soldier in the party machine, Manton, the Queens Democratic party boss, selected Crowley as his congressional replacement in 1998. However Manton, with years of experience in dirty backroom dealing, timed his resignation announcement to favor his protégé. Manton filed for reelection before the July 16, 1998 deadline and then announced at a meeting of Queens Democratic committeemen a week later that he was not running; a classic bait and switch scheme. Other congressional Democratic hopefuls were upset about being shut out of the primary process, especially then-Councilman Walter McCaffrey, who was a bright and effective leader in the city council. But Crowley, who described the appointment as being handed an ice-cream cone too good to turn down, won easily. “The real losers, of course, are the voters in Queens, whom Mr. Manton and Mr. Crowley have conspired to deprive of any real say in choosing their member of Congress,” the New York Times wrote in an editorial entitled, “So much for elections.”
After Manton’s death in 2006 Crowley was elevated as Manton’s successor to Queens Democratic Party chair. In Congress, Crowley has been equally underhanded in representing the constituents of the 7th Congressional District that encompasses parts of Maspeth and Elmhurst.
In October 2010 the Daily News reported that Crowley had spent nearly $40,000 in campaign cash on lawyers over the past three months to beat back a congressional ethics investigation. It was reported that on the day before a big congressional finance reform vote Crowley held two fundraising events. The first was a cocktail hour hosted at the home of a lobbyist. Of the 42 guests, 31 were lobbyists for the Financial Reform Bill. With a suggested donation of $500 for personal and $1,000 for a PAC, Crowley raised $50,000 from that event. After cocktails, Crowley then rushed to another fundraising event with 13 attendees — all of whom were lobbyists for the Financial Reform Bill. The cost to attend that event… $2,500 for a PAC and $1,000 for personal contributors, Crowley brought in between $13,000 to $32,500 at dinner. You can guess what these lobbyists expected from “Virginia Joe.” Of course the timing of these events shows just how arrogant and self-serving Joe Crowley is.
So reckless were his actions that in September 2010 the independent Office of Congressional Ethics urged the House ethics panel to investigate the actions of Crowley and two Republican congressmen. However, in January, the House Ethics Committee, a body made up of Crowley’s fellow congressmen, let him and two other members of Congress duck further ethics inquiries on their cozy little relationships with financial institutions and their lobbyists because, in short, everybody does it. This is a classic example of the fox watching the hen house. This is exactly why voters have the lowest faith of congress since 1970. Joe Crowley is the poster boy as to why we need real reform in Washington.
Crowley’s blatant disregard for ethics is evident and documented. His callous disdain for the voters and neighborhoods in his district is apparent by the condition of the neighborhoods he represents.
A New York Congressman?
On May 28th the Daily News blasted Crowley (see sidebar, right) and many of his New York congressional colleagues for voting against the re-authorization of the Patriot Act, which is vital to help protect the United States from a terrorist attack. The Patriot Act was supported by a vast majority of Congress and President Obama. Luckily it passed the House and Senate. Again, no thanks to Joe Crowley. This demonstrates how out of touch “Virginia Joe” is with his constituents. For a New York City congressman to vote against a measure that would help the government protect this city from a repeat of a 9/11 terrorist attack or worse is unconscionable.
Virgina Joe is ready for redistricting
One consolation: presently, Joe Crowley’s congressional district does not include Middle Village; his southern border extends essentially to the L.I.E. The disgraced “sexting” congressman, Anthony Weiner, represented Middle Village… some consolation. However, with redistricting coming next year there’s a good chance that Crowley’s new district would extend south and include Middle Village and Glendale. So that explains the Joe Crowley sighting in early August for an onsite meeting at 69th Place and Juniper Boulevard South on the CSX railroad problem. Crowley explained that he was just trying to help fill the void after the resignation of Weiner. No thanks Joe; with a congressman like you, an empty seat somehow is more appealing.
Back in March the news organization, Politico, reported that Crowley was one of two congressmen to hire lobbyists to protect his interests in the redistricting process. Reporter Maggie Haberman wrote, “In Crowley’s case, he signed Brian Meara, a longtime lobbyist with ties to the state Assembly’s powerful Democratic leader, Sheldon Silver. One potential issue of concern for Crowley: A corner of his district is in a heavily Hispanic area of the Bronx, which could ultimately leave him vulnerable to a primary challenge from a Latino candidate.”
Does it get any worse than this? With most good government groups calling for an independent redistricting commission, Congressman Joe Crowley, in his public-be-damned attitude, hires a lobbyist to protect his “kingdom.”
Our only future salvation is the hope that voters in the 7th Congressional District finally wake up and show career clubhouse politicians like Joe Crowley the door once and for all. We can only hope.