Republican congressional candidate Alexander "Sandy" Treadwell accused U.S. Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand of using hyperbole in a taxpayer-funded mailer about immigration issues.
"Congresswoman Gillibrand sees the big hole in America's immigration policies and that's why she's working hard to fix it," proclaims the glossy mailer the federal government paid $35,000 to print and mail out to homes in the 20th Congressional District.
The mailer discusses legislation Gillibrand, D-Greenport, cosponsored that would increase the number of federal border patrol agents and expand an electronic program employers use to verifying immigration status of workers, among other provisions.
Treadwell said Gillibrand is being insincere because she would not support a motion that would have brought the legislation to an immediate vote by the full House.
"She's taking credit for a bill as a cosponsor, but at the same time she's doing nothing to get the bill to the floor to a vote," Treadwell, a former state secretary of state from Lake Placid, said in a telephone interview after issuing a press release on Friday.
Treadwell is one of three candidates seeking the Republican nomination to challenge Gillibrand in November. The other candidates are Michael Rocque, a retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel from Clifton Park, and John Wallace, a real estate broker and retired state trooper from Chatham, in Columbia County.
Gillibrand was not available to speak directly on Friday, said Rachel McEneny, the congresswoman's spokeswoman.
Gillibrand wrote House Democratic leaders on March 18 requesting that the bill move through the process and come up for a timely vote, McEneny said.
Treadwell countered that the bill "has been bottled up for six months" without action.
"This is a very important bill that I would support if I was in Congress right now," he said.
McEneny said the congresswoman agrees the process moves slowly, not just on the immigration bill but also on other issues such as the farm bill.
"I think there's a lot of things going on in Washington that a lot of people would like to see move faster, and I think the congresswoman shares that frustration," she said.
Treadwell also criticized Gillibrand for legally using public funds to promote her immigration policies.
"She should pay for her self-promotion efforts from her campaign funds, instead of billing taxpayers," he said in the press release.
Treadwell has endorsed proposed legislation that would require members of Congress to disclose the cost of mailings directly on the literature.
McEneny said Treadwell was silent about the issue of public-funded mailings when he served as state Republican chairman from 2001-2004.
Public funded mailings are one of the many ways the congresswoman attempts to communicate with constituents, McEneny said.
"This particular issue (of immigration) was one that many people were calling in and were concerned about," she said.
The mailer, approved by the bipartisan Franking Commission, cost $18,000 for printing and $17,000 for postage, McEneny said.
It features a photograph of the congresswoman with troops in Iraq, and mentions Gillibrand was the first member of the state congressional delegation to oppose former Gov. Eliot Spitzer's proposal to issue drivers licenses to illegal immigrants.