Where do Upstate politicians stand on privacy and guns?

Since breaking the news on the highly controversial, very quietly submitted, State Senate Bill S09191 (referred to as the Social Media Password Bill or just Password Bill) by State Senator Kevin S. Parker, the major news media have caught on to the public rejection of the Bill. There has been various versions of coverage of the Bill, most highlighting the intent of the Bill to somehow protect the public from the non-threat of law-abiding firearm owners and applicant for gun permits. Few have focused on the consequences of the Bill to the general public, including even those that oppose the Second Amendment.

Michael "Vass" Vasquez, covering President Trump as part of White House Press Pool

White House Press Pool coverage of President Trump arrival in Utica, NY – credit: Michael Vass

In the cases where major news media have sought to convey the response of the public, non-elected individuals have almost universally recognized and emphasized the potential for abuse, corruption, and violation of Rights that the Bill presents. To provide full disclosure, M V Consulting Inc. president Michael Vass has been one of those non-elected individuals that has been a spearhead of such objections – appearing in interviews on Spectrum News, WUTQ, and WNBF (see audio file).

But, given the fact that the 2019 session of the New York State legislature is barely more than 30 days away, the position of elected officials are critical.

Political Landscape

Not only are the views of State Senators essential, as they will be potentially the first line of defense for the Rights of the public, there is a need to know where other officials stand. The Password Bill would require the State Assembly to approve as well. Across the State, District Attorneys and members of law enforcement will be required to abide this law – if the Password Bill is passed.

This all in the light that New York State Government is dominated by a single Party. With at least 2 members of that Government more than rumored to be seeking the 2020 presidential nomination of their Party. Meaning any opposition could be a political suicide; ending any chance of re-election if they stall or cast shade on the momentum of the Party to adhere to the imperative DNC president Tom Perez has decreed.

Even so less than a handful of politicians are providing answers to constituents. Oddly, they apparently are all from Upstate New York according to collective news media reporting. Not all those answers are clear though.

State Senators

NY State Senate Seal
Starting with State Senators there is State Senator Joe Griffo of the 47th District. Griffo has taken a unique tactic of submitting a separate Bill, S8312 for consideration. This Bill would make threats to the masses, via any medium, a crime felony Class D Crime. It would be punishable with a fine of $35,000 and a minimum 3 years prison sentence.

State Senator Fred Akshar has directly addressed Parker’s Password Bill. In response to our media leading request for comment, Senator Akshar released a statement to us as published in our article Responding to State Senator Parker on Social Media Password Bill. On the same day that we received the comment from Senator Akshar, he released a survey to receive comment from the public on this issue. In 3 days the survey has received approximately 5,000 responses with some 80% estimated to oppose the Password Bill (the survey will be available to the public for roughly 10 more days, and results will be made public).

In addition, on November 30, 2018, Senator Akshar took to the airwaves to directly request comment from the public. He also definitively stated his opposition to the Bill, with a clear understanding that he serves the public, saying in part,

“I’m not supporting Senator Parker’s Bill, nor would I ever as currently authored. I’m not going to be a politician that just blindly makes decisions on issues without first consulting the people I represent… we thought that the survey was the best way to communicate with them… The fact that Senator Parker would suggest that people simply have to give up their usernames and passwords, if in fact they want to apply for a pistol permit, is in my humble opinion is simply unconstitutional.”

State Assembly

NY State Assembly seal
This brings us to the State Assembly. If the silent, and political majority of the 2019 State Senate, approve of the Password Bill, it falls on the Democrat majority of the Assembly to protect the public and their inherent Rights. Only a future member of the Assembly has made public comment, that we can determine.

There is Assemblywoman-elect Jamie Romeo of the 136th District. She has taken a position that infers support in the name of public safety without stating it,

“People should’ve seen this activity or somebody should have… is there a way that we could’ve seen this before tragedy struck?”

Besides the singular public statement, we asked several 2019 Assembly members the following:

“The NY State Assembly will be the critical factor in determining if this will become law. If this was presented to you for a vote, would you support this law as it exists today? If not, what modifications would you look for to pass the Bill? Or would you reject the Bill?”

We reached out directly to Assemblywoman-elect Marianne Buttenschon of the 119th District. After an initial response asking how long she had to respond, we have heard no further answer (in total we made 2 attempts over 3 days for this article). Similarly, we reached out to re-elected Assemblyman Cliff Crouch of the 122nd District and received no reply.

But we did receive an immediate answer from Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo of the 123rd District. Assemblywoman Lupardo released a public statement on this issue, with a strong indication of her current position on the matter. Her statement was,
Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo of NY

“The bill was recently filed in the Senate and has not yet been introduced or thoroughly reviewed in the Assembly. At first glance, it definitely raises a number of issues, including concerns about privacy, the cost of implementation, and whether this would open a door to applying this standard to other situations.”

We note that Assemblywoman Lupardo has highlighted a serious concern that has been missed in discussions about the Password Bill. While there is no question that the restriction, if not outright unconstitutional elimination, of Rights needs attention, there is another factor affecting every resident of New York State. In a State deep in debt, and undergoing a well-documented exodus of population and business, expanding Government and the administrative swamp that would go with it, has a significant cost. A cost that would add to the taxes and burden on an overburdened population, further building to the detrimental consequences to the public.

District Attorneys and Police Chief

Still there are a small number of additional elected officials that impact the public and the adjudication of the law of the land. From the town of Gates, NY in Monroe County, Police Chief James VanBrederode spoke about the view from the vantage of his experience in law enforcement. He stated,

“We chase down these social media threats. And very few are ever legitimate, because it’s easy to sit behind a keyboard and say something bad or do like that. I would even agree that this has become a violation of your privacy right.”

We directly reached out to Upstate District Attorneys as well. We contacted Oneida County DA Scott McNamara, via Twitter, as a followup to his comments on WUTQ on this matter. We asked the same question of Broome County DA Steve Cornwell, in the same tweet. Both senior elected agents of law enforcement for the State were clear and precise in their answer:

@MVConsult Nov 29 @_talkfm Very glad to hear that DA @Scott_McNamara agrees with me on the ridiculous scope and danger of the #PasswordBill. But will he, and other DA’s publicly say they would not enforce this if made law? @DASteveCornwell

Public Influence

Sadly, out of the 60 remaining NY State Senators (of which 39 are Democrats and 25 represent NY City), the 146 remaining State Assembly members (which Democrats have controlled since 1975), the remaining 60 District Attorney’s, and literally hundreds of Sheriff’s and Police Chief’s, the silence on this issue is deafening. Given the minority status of Republicans in all levels of State Government, and the nature of law enforcement to be excluded from creation of legislation, it falls on the public to raise awareness of their support or rejection of this proposed overreach of power.

Ultimately, the passage of this and other proposed legislation restricting Rights in New York State in 2019 will depend on the outcry from citizens alone.

About the Author

Michael Vass
Born in 1968, a political commentator for over a decade. Has traveled the U.S. and lived in Moscow and Tsblisi, A former stockbroker and 2014 Congressional candidate. Passionate about politics with emphasis on 1st and 2nd Amendments.

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