Cobb, Stefanik start week by attacking each other’s records

One week after Labor Day, there was a flurry of activity from the campaign of Tedra L. Cobb, Democratic candidate for the 21st Congressional District and U.S. Rep. Elise M. Stefanik, R-Willsboro.

On Monday, Ms. Stefanik’s campaign sent out a statement criticizing Ms. Cobb for voting to enter an illegal executive session while sitting on the St. Lawrence County Legislature, although the minutes of the meeting are not clear on exactly what happened.

“The record speaks for itself,” said Stefanik spokesman Lenny Alcivar. “She participated in an illegal, closed door meeting.”

Mr. Alcivar referred to a June 20, 2008 article from the Daily Courier Observer where legislators announced they would hold an executive session to discuss “personnel” in order to work out problems between legislators, department heads and the then-county administrator.

The executive session, which Robert Freeman, executive director of the state’s Committee on Open Government, said was invalid, was supposedly held to discuss recent meetings with limited numbers of legislators, excluding Legislature Chair J. Patrick Turbett and Ms. Cobb.

Other articles from the time period show tensions between department heads, Mr. Turbett and county administrator County Administrator Karen M. St. Hilaire, and the executive session was apparently supposed to smooth things over — despite that not being a legitimate reason to hold an executive session.

Mr. Turbett could not be reached for comment.

The minutes of the meeting, which Mr. Alcivar linked to, show that a vote was taken and that the session was held, but does not explicitly say how Ms. Cobb — or most of the legislators — voted. Mr. Alcivar in the press release says that Ms. Cobb voted for the meeting.

“Based on what we know of the record, it’s a logical conclusion,” he said. “That is the inference.”

In a statement, Ms. Cobb said that she was excluded from some “private meetings,” which presumably refers to meetings held by other legislators excluding Mr. Turbett and herself.

“Rep. Stefanik’s statement shows that I was in fact, excluded from private meetings,” Ms. Cobb wrote. “Had her DC consultants done a little more research, they would have found that I led the passage of ethics reform legislation in St. Lawrence County and served on the New York State Committee on Open Government.”

Ms. Cobb declined, through a spokesperson, to answer whether or not she voted to enter the executive session.

Also on Monday, Stefanik’s campaign released a radio ad attacking Ms. Cobb and touting Ms. Stefanik’s record.

“Tedra Cobb and her big money liberal allies are desperate, lobbing false attacks on Elise Stefanik,” the add says.

This is apparently a reference to a previous radio add run by the super PAC United We Can attacking Ms. Stefanik for not being present in the district and for her votes on healthcare.

The Stefanik ad continues “Cobb wants government run, single-payer healthcare, which will increase taxes by over $1 trillion,” and references Ms. Cobb’s votes to raise taxes “20 times” as a St. Lawrence County Legislator.

Ms. Cobb has said she would support a Medicare for All single payer system, although she has continually said she is open to other alternatives as well. According to a study from the Libertarian Mercatus Center, one proposed plan would increase government spending by $32.6 trillion over ten years but would reduce nationwide healthcare costs by $2 trillion.

An examination by the Post Star of claims that Ms. Cobb voted to raise taxes 20 times said the votes were a mixed bag, with only seven directly raising taxes.

The radio ad goes on to lay out Ms. Stefanik’s record.

“(Ms. Stefanik) secured $27 million for rural hospitals, wrote the largest fix to Obamacare that helped lower costs and led the fight to fund our children’s healthcare program,” it says, and adds that Ms. Stefanik supports protecting those with pre-existing conditions.

Ms. Cobb’s campaign dismissed the add.

“Elise Stefanik cannot talk about her voting record on health care and win,” Cobb spokesman Brian Phillips wrote in an email to the Times. “Her radio ad is a sad quilt of disproven and false attacks on Tedra Cobb’s record in local government and half-truths about her own record in the Republican Congress, which is this: she voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act.”

Mr. Phillips added that the The Healthcare Association of New York State estimated if the repeal had gone through, three million New Yorkers would have lost coverage.

Also on Monday, Cobb’s campaign sent out a statement criticizing Ms. Stefanik for turning down and invitation to a debate hosted by the Adirondack Daily Enterprise in Saranac Lake. Stefanik’s campaign has previously said she will participate in just three previously announced televised debates in Watertown, Plattsburgh and Albany.

On Friday evening, Cobb’s campaign opened an office in Queensbury with over 100 volunteers, staff and members of the media, according to a press release from the campaign. The press release also said the campaign expects to open three more offices around the district in the near future.

The Gist of It:

EXECUTIVE SESSION: On Monday, the campaign of Elise Stefanik sent out a press release with a story about Ms. Cobb’s time on the St. Lawrence County Legislature when she apparently participated in an illegal executive session.

COBB RESPONSE: Ms. Cobb said that she supported ethics reforms while on the legislature, although she did not say whether or not she voted for the executive session.

OTHER ISSUES: Stefaniks’ campaign released a radio add Monday comparing the two candidates records, Cobb’s campaign criticized Stefanik for not accepting an invitation to a debate.