Blue Letter

I normally don't discuss letters to the editor, but reader Stan sent me a link to one in the Star-Gazette. The letter writer claims that Massa is out of line because he paid his wife $75,000 for accounting services. That charge appears to be false and politically stupid.

In this cycle, I can find $9,000 paid to Beverly Massa, all of which is reported on the latest quarterly filing. If someone wants to plow through all the filings, be my guest. I get the feeling that the letter writer looked at one filing and jumped to a conclusion about Mrs. Massa's salary.

Also, Randy Kuhl's son was his paid campaign manager last cycle. I don't know who's managing Kuhl's campaign this cycle, but I wasn't impressed with James' performance in 2006. See this post or this one for more details.

If hiring relatives is somehow wrong, then Kuhl's actions hiring his son are probably worse than Massa's. At least Massa's wife is a professional bookkeeper.

The S-G editorial page editor needs to do some fact checking before printing junk like this.


Rotten -
I obviously beg to differ about the significance of this letter and the star gazette's finding. First, while Massa only paid his wife wife $9,000 this quarter he listed an additional $64,000 owed to her in his debts and obligations. So, in my estimation, both the star gazette and the letter writer were correct about the sum of what the campaign is paying her for "book keeping". Secondly, there is a big difference between a father paying a son to manage his campaign and a husband paying his wife for book keeping. The obvious difference is a husband and wife's finances are interconnected in a way that a father and son's are not (kuhl didn't pay his son and then use that money to pay his mortage for instance). Futhermore, managing a congressional campaign is a full time job that requires a lot more work than the simple payroll and accounting services Beverly is currently raking in thousands of dollars per month to do part time. I don't think Massa's WIFE should be on the payroll at all and he is definetly paying her way too much. It looks like Kuhl's book keeper is paid approximately $800 per month. Why the disparity?

Kuhl has big credit card and revolving debt, according to his last financial statement. Could some of that be for his son? I don' t know and really don't care, but as Elmer points out below, children and parents' finances are often intertwined.

Kuhl also took James along on a junket sponsored by the American Israeli Education Foundation. That probably merits investigation, by your standards.

Again, my point that it is politically stupid for Kuhl supporters to raise this issue, because Kuhl has many questions to answer about paying his family.

I don't know the difference between the duties of Kuhl's treasurer and Massa's. But $36,000/year doesn't seem an excessive salary for a bookkeeper who must be working pretty close to full-time.

Finally, the loan that you mention is hardly a sure thing. If Massa loses, it is unlikely that she'll recoup that money. Which means she wasn't "paid" $75K.

This issue is a complete distraction. Massa has decided to take a big financial risk to run for Congress, he's going a pretty good job raising money, and he employs his wife to keep the books at a reasonable salary, very little of which she's seen so far.

Stan - you must not have any older children if you don't think a father and son's incomes are interconnected.

You get too excited by letters to the Editor. I suppose it should have been fact checked, but along with well thought out and reasoned letters, you get your share of nut cases.

In today's Corning paper there is a lady advocating voting for Cynthia McKinney (Green Party) for president. Unlike the letter you cite, it is just an opinion. But, one of her major reasons for voting for Cynthia is that Obama and McCain are basically the same. I think I'll let the boys over at RT know that they can safely vote for McCain because he isn't any different from Obama. :)

I think it is funny that Obama's name still isn't included in anyone's spell check

That's why I try to ignore them. Didn't get it done this time, obviously.

Cynthia McKinney is scary.

Stan - you must not have any older children if you don't think a father and son's incomes are interconnected.

Well said.

Also: there's a big difference between the 9K Rotten finds in the filings and the 75K claimed in the letter. That's the central issue here, IMHO.

Well, he still owes her more than $64,000 so where is the difference Exile?

I am a Kuhl supporter, but I say let Mrs. Massa make some money - he does seem like a nice guy.

The story about Massa paying his own wife tens of thousands is gaining traction. Another letter was in the Elmira Star Gazette..and it also brings up the embarrassing affair with Dickert.:

"I recently received an e-mail from 29th Congressional District candidate Eric Massa that criticized U.S. Rep. John R. Kuhl Jr. about his "gas guzzling" SUV. I subsequently found out in a Star-Gazette story that Kuhl personally pays the lease on that vehicle and that he receives only standard mileage reimbursement from the government. In short, Massa's criticisms were groundless.

I then found out that Massa uses campaign funds to pay his wife almost $75,000 a year for "accounting" and payroll services, when by comparison, a fully licensed CPA averages $92,000 in New York.

This is the same Eric Massa who criticized Kuhl about the Foley scandal in 2006 (that involved alleged sex improprieties with minors) as if Kuhl was somehow responsible for preventing Foley's bad behavior. This is the same candidate who fired his campaign manager in 2006, made accusations in court documents that implied improprieties involving minors but never reported the matter to police.

Massa is in no position to lecture anyone."

Part of Eric's strength is his claim to represent change.

You can argue back and forth about the merits of the accusations, but this is hurting him and his credibility..badly.

Just because a falsehood is repeated doesn't make it true. Massa didn't pay his wife 75,000/year, he paid her 9,000 and loaned her the rest. She's been his campaign treasurer for almost 4 years, so she's paid nothing like 75K/year, even if you accept that a loan is salary. And if you do accept that a loan is salary, how about we replace your salary with a loan from a political candidate? I'm sure you'd take that deal in a heartbeat.

Anyone who wants to read an exhaustive analysis of the Dickert non-scandal, based on reading all the papers filed in the case, can do so by searching for Dickert in this blog.

As for the SUV charge, meh. Massa didn't say Kuhl did anything wrong, just pointed out he drives a gas guzzler. I thought it wasn't important, but it's certainly not a scandal.

Also, you left out this LTE, which also appeared in the S-G:

I am writing to express my concern over Phil Barnes' July 27 letter regarding 29th Congressional District candidate Eric Massa's wife, Beverly.

Barnes neglected to mention that he happens to be the chair of the Schuyler County Republican Party. He also neglected to mention that U.S. Rep. John R. Kuhl Jr.'s son, in his first job out of college, was hired by his father's 2006 campaign and was paid more than $35,000 for less than one year of work.

Beverly has more than 30 years of experience as an accountant/CFO. I have personally worked with Beverly, and she is honest and ethical.

To suggest that she is doing something wrong and that her family is unfairly financially gaining from her involvement in the campaign is absurd. I support Beverly Massa and her husband Eric Massa in his campaign to be our next representative in Congress.

In the future, I'm ignoring Letters to the Editor. Stop trying to sneak them into comments.

Thanks for the clarification. it makes me feel somehwhat better..but even if it wasn't $75,000.00 a year and is a "loan" and not a salary already still have to admit that this looks pretty bad...and gives Kuhl some ammunition for some pretty devastating ads.

Yeah..Kuhl paid his son..but that was as a campaign manager. He can easily counter that his son knew him well enough to function well in that capacity, that it's old news from 2 years agao ..and its not like the local area has such managers running around. To hire your own wife and CONTINUE to hire her for a part time bookkeeper job and pay her almost at CPA rates, when she isn't a CPA, when there are plenty of other local bookeepers you could hire..( I think I've seen somehwere that Kuhl pays his bookkeeper about $800.00 a month) looks pretty bad...and gives Kuhl the opportunity to hammer him.

Part of Eric's appeal has been that of an individual who s fresh and new..untouched by corruption.

This news severely damages that image..whether you want to argue the details or not.

He has to find a way to put this behind him.

If that means announcing that he is NOT going to pay his wife for these services amd consider them volunteered services..then that is what he has to do.

No, I don't have to admit it looks pretty bad. Because it doesn't. You continue to make up facts to support your narrative.

First, your salary figures are all wrong. She was paid $3,000 a month in the most recent quarter. That's at most 36,000/year for a bookkeeping job, with no benefits. However, she hasn't seen that money because, I repeat, most of it is a loan from a campaign, which matters a whole hell of a lot. Again, if you want that deal, line up for it.

That is not "CPA rates", not even close. Considering that the Massa campaign is a multi-million dollar enterprise, and that federal filing requirements for campaigns are very complex, having a bookkeeper with 30 years experience working for four years for $9,000 plus a shaky loan is a bargain. Also, note that the Massa campaign processes a much higher number of donations per year, they have more offices and more staff than Kuhl's, and they don't have a whole Washington, DC staff to help Massa out.

Second, comparing Kuhl's bookkeeper with Massa's is apples and oranges. Neither you nor I know what each of their duties are, but, as noted above, Kuhl has a campaign and congressional staff so he can have a bookkeeper with more limited duties.

Third, I think most reasonable people would think that 35,000 real dollars paid for less than a year of work to Kuhl's fresh out of college, inexperienced son is far more "corrupt" than what Massa's done. Massa's wife is at least qualified for her job.

Let's dwell on that last point for a minute, my anonymous compadre. I fully realize that there's a certain segment of the electorate who resent every cent a politician or candidate funnels to their family. But if you're going to try to get a rise out of those folks, you should at least make sure that your side is clean on the issue.

That's why I'm spending time responding to your repetitious comments. I don't think that the issue has any merit -- quite the opposite, since most reasonable people understand that the Massa campaign couldn't hire anyone else qualified for anything approaching the same deal. I just can't believe that some Kuhl supporters are so stupid that they think that this issue is somehow a winner.

If you have something new to say on this, say it. But please don't just repeat what you said before. It gets boring.