PLATTSBURGH — The North Country congressional race heated up as incumbent Bill Owens launched an aggressive advertisement questioning his challenger’s career.
The challenger, Watertown Republican Matt Doheny, says Owens is lying.
Owens (D-Plattsburgh) unveiled a television advertisement — his fifth of the campaign — that addressed Doheny’s record when he worked on Wall Street.
y worked for Deutsche Bank on Wall Street for most of the 2000s. He reached the position of manager of distressed assets and worked to restructure troubled companies.
“Matt Doheny’s Wall Street background says a lot about what he would do in Congress,” Owens’s campaign manager James Hannaway said in talking about the advertisement.
“His record speaks for itself. He would put Wall Street over Main Street every time.”
The ad, entitled, “Four Islands,” claims that Doheny took over vulnerable companies, fired workers and cut benefits to maximize his profits.
“Next, he worked for a company that used the Cayman Islands to avoid paying taxes,” Owens says in the the script.
The Owens ad was referring to Doheny’s time as portfolio manager for Fintech Advisory, a firm that partly operated offshore through corporate
“Then Matt Doheny bought his own two islands and moved here to run for Congress. Matt Doheny gets his islands. American loses jobs.”
Doheny, who is originally from Alexandria Bay, owns two islands in the St. Lawrence River in the region known as the Thousand Islands.
Hannaway said the ad is not criticizing Doheny for making millions on Wall Street, but what he did to make those millions and his lack of focus on middle-class needs.
“He laid off workers while giving CEOs bonuses. He worked for companies that sheltered money in the Caymans,” Hannaway said.
“You put the pieces together, and it’s pretty clear: Matt Doheny’s Wall Street values are not North Country Main Street values.”
Doheny’s camp reacted angrily to the Owens ad, firing off a news release that called Owens’s claims “the divisive seeds of class envy ... riddled with unsubstantiated claims that distort Matt Doheny’s record as a protector of jobs.”
Doheny said he worked in the private sector to turn troubled companies around and protected and created “tens of thousands” of jobs.
“I left college with $150,000 in outstanding loans. But through hard work and determination, I’ve achieved the American dream,” Doheny said.
“Now I want to provide that same opportunity for people in the North Country, Adirondacks and Capital Region.”
Doheny said that when he worked for Deutsche Bank, he oversaw 130 employees and helped in restructuring several troubled companies, including Adelphia in 2004.
He said that after working with Adelphia, it was purchased by Time Warner Cable and Comcast, and about 13,000 of Adelphia’s former employees started working for the those companies.
Doheny said he had no direct role in any Adelphia decision to fire workers or cut benefits.
Doheny also said that he has paid at or near the 35-percent percent maximum tax rate on his federal income taxes over the past five years and that he had no ownership in Fintech and had no input in the decision on where to incorporate the company.
He said he purchased the two island properties in the St. Lawrence River long before he decided to run for Congress.
“My opponent has been peddling these lies for two years,” said Doheny, who lost to Owens in the 2010 election.
“Independent fact-checkers have called his claims misleading or outright wrong, but he continues to repeat them to distract voters from his terrible record of standing up for upstate jobs as congressman.”
Owens worked as an attorney in Plattsburgh for about 30 years before he ran for Congress in 2009. He reported his earnings to be $750,000 per year when he left the law firm of Stafford, Owens, Piller, Murnane and Trombley PLLC.
“I’d never fault Bill Owens for being worth more than a million dollars,” Doheny said.
“His law firm was willing to pay him that money. That’s America. My opponent, however, vilifies success. He wants to pit people against each other and breed contempt for people like me who worked hard to make it on their own.”
DEBATE OCT. 16
Owens was leading Doheny by 13 points in a poll put out by Siena College earlier this month on the 21st District race.
The two engaged in a debate in Glens Falls last week along with Green Party candidate Donald Hassig, but no knockout punches were thrown.
The next debate is scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 16, at Valcour Conference Center in Plattsburgh.
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