Boss Tweed died in solitude in 1878. Yet, the political shenanigans that came to define the once powerful Tammany Hall still persist today in New York City. Queens County has long held the unscrupulous distinction of having a corrupt and ironically undemocratic machine that runs the gamut. Maspeth and Middle Village are no exception to that rule. In fact, our community is home to some of the biggest clubhouse politicians in the entire city who hold little or no regard for the views of their constituents, and will stop at nothing to do whatever is best for themselves; the general public be damned. And it just so happens that two of these politicians are named, Crowley.
As cousins, Elizabeth Crowley and Joseph Crowley, both have similar and unremarkable pasts. If you examine Elizabeth Crowley’s history you’ll find very little other than she was the 14th of 15 children of Walter and Mary Crowley.
Her father, Walter H. Crowley, was a longtime Queens Democratic Party member and local attorney. On January 3, 1985 Donald Manes, the corrupt Borough President of Queens, appointed him to fill the City Council seat for our area. He died of a heart attack on September 24, 1985.
In typical Tammany Hall-style cronyism politics, his wife Mary was appointed to fill her husband’s vacant seat for the remaining months of his term. This appointment demonstrates how little regard the Queens Democratic Party machine had for the residents of Queens County.
A year later Borough President Manes was accused of using political appointments and favors as the source of large kickback schemes involving personal bureaucratic fiefdoms such as the New York City Parking Violations Bureau. Zoning and Cable TV franchises were also being investigated, and some of Manes’s appointees and associates were indicted or forced to resign. On March 13, 1986, the disgraced Manes plunged an eight-inch blade into his heart, committing suicide. Donald Manes was followed in office by Deputy Borough President Claire Shulman, who served until 2002. Shulman saw to it that a school and park in Elmhurst were named after Walter H. Crowley, a Council member who was never elected to the position and died after serving 7 months in office.
Joe Crowley is handed the Assembly seat
Meanwhile, Walter H. Crowley’s nephew, Joseph was about to graduate Queens College with a B.A. degree in political science. Joe, who was known for his partying and playing in a rock band, was immediately tapped by Queens Democratic boss, Thomas Manton, to fill the empty seat in the 30th Assembly District which covered Maspeth, Elmhurst and parts of Middle Village. He was all of twenty-four years old with absolutely no experience in holding a political office or any other job.
Joe Crowley served 12 years in the New York State Assembly running every two years unopposed.
Joe Crowley is handed the Congressional seat
In 1998 Congressman Tom Manton announced his retirement from Congress shortly after the deadline passed for individuals wishing to file for the Democratic primary. (Manton was the only individual who filed for the primary.) As head of the Queens Democratic Party machine, Manton was able to handpick his successor – Joe Crowley. Unopposed, once again, the Crowley family was given an elected office on a silver platter. Tammany Hall style politics again rears its ugly head.
Since being elected to Congress, Crowley has yet to face a serious challenge for his seat, as he usually runs unopposed.
While in Congress, Crowley has turned his back on our community and New York City. While pretending to live in his mother’s house in Woodside, he secretly moved his family to Arlington, Virginia in 2004. The New York Post reported that he “enrolled his children in the renowned public schools of this affluent suburb of Washington, D.C. shunning New York City’s educational system.” Talk about arrogance.
Joe Crowley in action in Congress
In Congress, Joe Crowley often takes positions opposite to those of the middle class.
For example: The Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, 2010:
In October of 2010, the House voted on a funding bill for Homeland Security. The act passed the House 258-163. Joseph Crowley voted against the act.
Joseph Crowley also voted against the Protect America Act of 2007, the Military Commission Act of 2006 and the USA PATRIOT Act Additional Reauthorizing Amendments Act of 2006.
On immigration issues Joe Crowley was even worse. He voted NO on building a fence along the Mexican border; voted NO on preventing tipping off Mexicans about Minuteman Project, voted NO on reporting illegal aliens who receive hospital treatment and voted Voted YES on extending Immigrant Residency rules.
Clearly, Congressman Crowley also does what special interests want. Let’s examine his latest abomination: H.R. 658 – FAA Air Transportation Modernization and Safety Improvement Act: The bill authorizes appropriations for the Federal Aviation Administration for fiscal years 2011 through 2014, to streamline programs, reduce waste, improve aviation safety and capacity, and provide stable funding for the national aviation system, among other things. Our neighborhood is near two large airports and we certainly could benefit from this bill.
Supporters of this bill gave Joe Crowley $16,650. However, opponents of the bill such as teachers’ unions, building trades unions and railroad unions gave Crowley a whopping $85,950. So how did Crowley vote? He voted NO. Luckily the bill passed both the House and the Senate and is awaiting approval from the President.
Joe Crowley did not have the qualifications to be elected when he was 24 and fresh out of college. He has made his living off of backroom politics and treating the electorate as chumps. His 25-year political career has been plagued by one unethical trick after another. Worse than that, he has taken big money from special interest groups and has consistently voted against the interests of his constituents, New York City and the United States.
From Bad to Worse: Enter Joe’s Cousin, Elizabeth
Elizabeth Crowley was born in 1977. She had her first child at the age of 18 and second one at 19. She married a NYC police officer but the two were estranged by the time she was 21. She did part-time work freelancing as an historic preservationist and decorative painter. According to the NY Daily News, Crowley filed for bankruptcy in 1999, claiming $600 a month in income from alimony and no assets. She listed $9,980 in debts, including $3,745 in medical bills and $5,500 in credit card debt. Her March 1999 discharge from bankruptcy meant she didn’t have to pay her creditors a dime. She began raising campaign money two years later.
Elizabeth is handed the Democratic nomination
At the age of 23, Elizabeth Crowley first announced that she was running in the 26th council district, covering Woodside, Sunnyside, Long Island City and parts of Maspeth. The Queens Democratic Party agreed to back her only if she would run in the 30th District instead. The 30th covered Middle Village, Glendale and parts of Ridgewood. To get elected, Crowley sent out campaign mailings containing a photo of her with her ex-husband claiming to be “married to a NYC police officer.” In reality they had been estranged for about two years.
Elizabeth crowley hangs out with a corrupt union boss & politician
At that time the financial brains and main fundraiser for her campaign was assemblyman and union boss, Brian McLaughlin. Several newspaper articles linked Elizabeth Crowley romantically to McLaughlin even though he was a married man. Crowley has never disputed these charges on the record.
After losing the 2001 election, Elizabeth Crowley and Brian McLaughlin kept up their relationship. On October 17, 2006, McLaughlin was arrested by the FBI on charges of stealing more than $2 million from the State of New York and labor unions.
The New York Post reported this on October 19, 2006: “…and one day in 2004 – as McLaughlin explored running for mayor – he skipped out on an interview with a New York Times reporter, after hiding out in his office with Elizabeth Crowley. She’s his close political pal and a failed City Council candidate.” “Brian wouldn’t come out of his office – I was banging on the door,” said a former staffer at the New York Central Labor Council. When asked about the incident, McLaughlin’s lawyer, Jonathan Bach, would not comment.
On May 20, 2009 McLaughlin was sentenced to ten years imprisonment. Earlier, Crowley landed a job at the Consortium for Worker Education. McLaughlin was also President of the Central Labor Council which could have helped her land the position.
The political opportunist returns
Elizabeth Crowley resurfaced in our community in 2008 after then Councilman, Dennis 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, Crowley finally won the City Council seat in November 2008 by taking advantage of the Obama landslide. Until that point she had absolutely no experience and no involvement with our community.
On March 23, 2011 the Daily News reported that Elizabeth Crowley’s City Council website boasts of her “experience managing economic recovery because she “helped administer a $32 million” grant which supported businesses hurt by the 9/11 terror attacks. The Consortium for Worker Education, was the nonprofit labor group that administered the grant. Crowley’s website fails to mention a February 2008 federal inspector general audit that uncovered a host of problems with how that grant was administrated and recommended $11.2 million be refunded to the government.
Not representing her constituents
Not surprising, as a legislator for the past three years Crowley has been a huge disappointment on almost every level. Her most recent betrayal of her constituents was co-sponsoring legislation (intro 656A) that severely limits the cooperation and exchange of information between the NYC Department of Correction with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) regarding illegal aliens incarcerated at Rikers Island. For any NYC elected official, only 10 years after the 9/11 attack, to sponsor legislation that limits the sharing of information especially on criminal illegal aliens is disgraceful.
But Crowley didn’t stop there, she also co-sponsored legislation that called for boycotting Arizona in response to its attempt to address the flow of illegal aliens over its border. Crowley called the Arizona law, “anti-immigrant” legislation. Most Americans would not refer to people who illegally enter the U.S. as “immigrants.”
Elizabeth Crowley is also more interested in press photo-ops and press exposure than following up on issues. You’ll see her every week in the local newspapers posing for the cameras. She usually holds a press conference, announces a problem, then nothing happens. She introduces unnecessary legislation for publicity and the bill, more often than not, will sit in committee for years.
We hope that by exposing our Tammany Hall-style politicians, the electorate will finally see the Crowleys for what they really are, uninformed political opportunists with no credentials and even less ethical backbone.
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