Yesterday, YNN reported that Democratic incumbent Rep. Maurice Hinchey had assaulted a newspaper reporter after a debate with George Phillips in the NY-22 race. YNN’s videographer reported that Hinchey had “made a beeline” for Kingston Daily Freeman reporter Bill Kemble after he had asked Hinchey about a potential conflict of interest in the Partition Street Project, a project for which Hinchey had earmarked federal funds and in which the Freeman had reported Hinchey and his business partners to have financial interests, directly and indirectly. Hinchey’s campaign released a statement late yesterday that Kemble “took an aggressive step” towards the Congressman, which precipitated the physical altercation.
This evening, the Kingston Freeman took exception to that — and to a number of other claims Hinchey made at the time, too. Tony Adamis, the managing editor, sent Hot Air this statement, which I will produce in full:
I am the managing editor of the Daily Freeman, Kingston, NY, for which the reporter, William Kemble, works. The following is a statement I have prepared in response to the misrepresentations of this incident by Congressman Hinchey’s office:
There was an incident. Mr. Kemble says the congressman put a hand on his neck. A third party who witnessed the incident says he did not see that, but did see the congressman jabbing Mr. Kemble in the chest with his finger. Yet another witness says Kemble was pushed into the path of another person by the congressman.
For his part, Mr. Kemble views the incident as an unwanted distraction to his work.
However, as managing editor, I take seriously the issue of anyone, including a congressman, putting their hand on or jabbing with a finger a reporter who is simply doing his job.
Further, the Hinchey camp’s characterizations of the incident as either prompted by aggressive action by Mr. Kemble or by false accusations they claim he and the Freeman have made are untrue.
First, the videotape of the questioning of Mr. Hinchey clearly shows that while Kemble was persistent, he was professional and even in tone, while it was Hinchey who lost his composure. The congressman should own up to what everyone can see.
Second, the specific question that Mr. Kemble was asking prior to the incident and which apparently provoked the congressman involves Hinchey’s real estate interest in a commercial Saugerties development which was referenced in a congressional disclosure form for funding of a Hudson River ferry project. To our knowledge, Congressman Hinchey has never answered questions about that connection, which is why Mr. Kemble was posing the question to him.
We stand by our reporting on federal funding to an area Mr. Hinchey represents . We have made no false allegations nor has Mr. Hinchey proven once, never mind “numerous times,” that any of our reporting was false.
Readers may judge for themselves. The stories are posted online at:
— “Hinchey tops in local pork,” May 18, http://ow.ly/2UxaC
— “Hinchey stresses his lack of involvement in Saugerties development,” May 21, http://ow.ly/2Ux8a
— “Hinchey misstated use of federal grant for Saugerties,” May 21 — http://ow.ly/2Ux5q
Finally, Mr. Hinchey has made a practice of not answering questions about his financial connections to projects benefitting from federal grants. He stopped cooperating early in the process with our investigation into the connection between his advocacy of federal grants and his own financial interests. His brushoff of questions from Mr. Kemble on Oct. 14 was simply the latest instance of his unresponsiveness.
I noted the “odd coincidences” of Hinchey’s pork in this post, linking to the Daily Freeman’s reporting. As far as Kemble’s approach to Hinchey, here’s the video in which Hinchey explains his position by the time-honored response of “shut up”:
Just to make this clear, Hinchey had in his Congressional disclosures a statement showing him as partial owner of the land for the Partition Street Project. That apparently was confirmed at the time by Hinchey himself. The questions asked above do not sound like an unprofessional intrusion in a private conversation, but a professional question at a public event for an elected Representative. Hinchey may not like accountability, but if so, then he should get out of Congress or his constituents should ensure that Hinchey doesn’t return again to Washington.