Competing for Congress: Tom Reed versus Martha Robertson

With Election Day nine months away, the race for New York’s 23rd Congressional district is getting heated.

Democratic candidate Martha Robertson took a dig at incumbent Rep. Tom Reed last week by filing a Freedom of Information Request with Reed’s office.

The request demanded the release of all documents related to any communications with the House Ethics Committee.

The action comes on the heels of a Buffalo News report, which revealed Reed’s Corning law office continued to operate under his name for two years into his term as Congressman – a violation of the Rules of the House of Representatives.

According to the House Ethics Committee website, House of Representatives rules state that lawmakers and their staff members are prohibited from practicing law outside of Congress.

They cannot “permit the name of such individual to be used by such a firm, partnership, association, corporation, or other entity.”

Furthermore, the bar association’s Model Rules of Professional Conduct prohibit the name of a lawyer holding public office to be used in the name of a law firm or communications on its behalf.

“We demand that (Reed) release any and all correspondence between his lawyers and the taxpayer-funded House Ethics Committee,” Robertson said. “If the Congressman has nothing to hide, then he should have no problem releasing any and all documents exchanged between his lawyers and the House Ethics Committee. If he did nothing wrong, he can straighten all this out quickly. What does he have to hide?”

Katherine Pudwill, Reed’s communication director, said Reed’s attorney reached out to the Ethics Committee immediately after he took office and had again visited the Office of Congressional Ethics to ensure everything was properly taken care of.

“Instead of launching personal attacks against Tom Reed, Martha Robertson needs to explain why she thinks Obamacare doesn’t go far enough, why she thinks raising taxes on job creators is the best path to create jobs, and why she believes global warming should be the number one priority for Congress,” Pudwill said.

This is Reed’s third Congressional race, and his second attempt at securing the District 23 seat.

He represented District 29 from 2009-12, when the Congressional map was redistricted, and District 23 was created.

Robertson has been chair of the Tompkins County Legislature since 2010, and a legislator since 2002. She is seeking the Working Families line as well as the Democratic nomination.