On Elise Stefanik's official campaign website she claims to be a "small businesswoman" who works in sales and management for her family's business, Premium Plywood Products, which is based outside of Albany and distributes flooring materials and plywood products throughout the Northeast. One many wonder, however, how Stefanik could have any real experience working in her family's business when she has literally spent the last eight years since graduating from Harvard in 2006 working as a high-profile Republican political operative in Washington D.C., serving as an aide in the Bush Administration followed by a stint as communications director of the neo-conservative Foreign Policy Initiative think tank before working in the Romney campaign where she prepared Paul Ryan for the 2012 Vice Presidential Debate. In addition, information from Mantra.com reveals that Premium Plywood Products has an annual revenue of $50 to $100 million per year and employs between 100 and 249 people. Hardly the "small business" that Stefanik claims.
Elise Stefanik's residency has also been repeatedly questioned throughout the campaign this year. As I mentioned in a diary last month, despite Elise Stefanik's continual claims of being a resident of the Essex County hamlet of Willsboro, she doesn't actually own or rent any property within the State of New York, a requirement when running for Congress in this state. The only property where Stefanik is believed to ever have paid taxes is a $1.3 million townhome in Washington D.C. which she partially owns. Last Summer, Stefanik declared a nominal residency at her family's vacation home on Lake Champlain in preparation for running for Congress in the 21st District. Additionally, despite a recent commercial from a Super PAC affiliated with 2006 Republican Gubernatorial Candidate John Faso which claims in a voiceover that Elise Stefanik "came back to the North Country," Stefanik was never from the North Country to begin with. Stefanik actually grew up in suburban Altamont near where her family's business is located and attended prep school at Albany Academy for Girls.
Upstate New York and the North Country have seen many independently wealthy candidates, both Democrats and Republicans, run for Congress in recent years, but none of them ever tried to exaggerate or fabricate their backgrounds like Stefanik has this year. In 2006, now-Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D) was forthcoming with voters about working for a high-profile New York City law firm and growing up in a prominent Albany County political family. In 2009, Scott Murphy (D) promoted his background as a venture capitalist and entrepreneur for Advantage Capital Partners as an asset for improving the Upstate economy during his initial successful Congressional bid. Even Matt Doheny (R) hasn't exactly hidden his many years living in Manhattan and working as an investment fund manager.
Why can't Elise Stefanik have the decency to show Upstate voters the same respect as previous independently wealthy candidates who have run for Congress in this region and be completely forthcoming who she really is?