Lake Placid accountant Doug Hoffman has endorsed Plattsburgh educator Karen Bisso for Assembly.
Hoffman announced his endorsement during a press conference Thursday afternoon at McSweeney's restaurant in Plattsburgh. Bisso is on the Conservative line in the race for New York's new 115th Assembly District and she'll also face incumbent Assemblywoman Janet Duprey and Cadyville businessman David Kimmel in a Sept. 13 Republican primary.
Hoffman ran for Congress twice: He lost to U.S. Rep. Bill Owens, D-Plattsburgh, in a 2009 special election and to Watertown businessman Matt Doheny in a 2010 congressional primary. He considered running for the new 114th Assembly District but opted out.
Assembly candidate Karen Bisso speaks as two-time congressional candidate Doug Hoffman endorses her at a press conference Thursday afternoon at McSweeney’s restaurant in Plattsburgh.
"I have known and worked with Karen for several years now," Hoffman said in a statement issued by the Bisso campaign. "Her work ethic is incredible and she has a realistic approach to what it will take to repair New York State."
Bisso welcomed Hoffman's support.
"We stand united for a better New York," she said in a press release.
Hoffman said Bisso, as a public sector employee, has watched the education system struggle with state mandates. He said as a business owner and taxpayer - she owns Bisso Properties rental apartments - she's been a vocal opponent of high taxes and burdensome government regulations.
Hoffman also went after Duprey for "double-dipping" on pension payments. In late 2010, Duprey and Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward "retired" from office, and immediately on Jan. 1, 2011, went back on the state payroll. The action let both collect pensions from the state retirement system while also receiving their pay as lawmakers.
The retirement loophole was closed in 2005, but public employees of retirement age who began in the state pension system before 1995 were able to retire by year's end and then return to their jobs while receiving pensions. Duprey was Clinton County treasurer from the 1980s until 2006, and Sayward was the Willsboro town supervisor before being elected to the Assembly in 2002.
"Ms. Duprey did not tell us that she was 'retiring' from her 2009-2010 Assembly position until after she was reelected in 2010 for the 2011-2012 term," Hoffman said. "Would she have been elected if we knew that before the 2010 election? Certainly there is a lack of transparency in her dealings with her constituents."
Hoffman said Duprey makes "approximately $175,000 to $200,000 per year" from her Assembly salary, committee pay and pension combined. He said just because a loophole let her collect the pension, it doesn't mean she should have done it.
"I expect her to do what is right during these financially hard times for New York and as a role model, I expect her to do what is right for her constituents and the State," Hoffman said.
Duprey fired back in an emailed statement.
"The law which provided for elected officials at all levels of government to retire while serving as elected officials was passed many years prior to my being elected to the Assembly," she said. "I do not apologize for taking the retirement I earned during 31 years of service to Clinton County in order to protect my husband of 45 years, my children and grandchildren."
Hoffman said Duprey has voted 29 out of 32 times with Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, a Democrat from Manhattan. He said those votes show where Duprey's "loyalties lie."
In voting for last year's gay marriage bill, Hoffman said Duprey changed the historical and religious definition of marriage. He said she's also voted for legislation that favors taxpayer-funded abortion.
"Ms. Duprey clearly is not someone who should be carrying our Republican banner to Albany," he said. "Don't you think it's time for Janet Duprey to take the retirement we taxpayers are already paying for?"
Duprey said Hoffman didn't identify which bills she joined with Silver on. She said she "can only assume" they were budget bills.
"Yes indeed I voted with the vast majority of my Assembly colleagues on both sides of the aisle to pass an on-time budget for the second consecutive year; eliminated a $13.5 billion deficit; kept spending in the budget below the rate of inflation; reduced the middle-income tax rate to the lowest level in 58 years," she said.
Duprey said her voting record proves she is a fiscal conservative "who votes on each piece of legislation after careful study and accurate research."
Contact Chris Morris at 518-891-2600 ext. 25 or firstname.lastname@example.org.