12:30 pm Jan. 24, 2012
Despite a rocky welcome to New York politics, Marc Cenedella, an internet entrepreneur and anti-tax activist, isn't showing any signs yet of shying away from a potential challenge to Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.
Cenedella, who was the subject of a particularly unfavorable New York Times story yesterday, and attendant follow-up scrutiny of his personal life, put out a press release this morning, criticizing Gillibrand for her momentary support of the Protect IP Address legislation.
"It is unfortunate to see our junior New York Senator totally immersed in Washington-style politics," Mr. Cenedella said. "If, indeed, she took more than $600,000 in Hollywood cash and then did its bidding over the interests of her own constituents, she does not belong in public office. There are unanswered questions out there about whether she even read the bill before putting her name on it."
Cenedella has criticized Gillibrand on PIPA before, including in his only public comments as a prospective candidate.
Yesterday, the Times reported that a blog hosted under Cenedella's name contained controversial posts about women, drugs, and sex. Cenedella's company, TheLadders.com, initially said it was a staging site that pulled in other content from around the web.
But Cenedella's spokesman, Republican consultant Bill O'Reilly, subsequently told Capital Tonight that the posts in question were not original content, but instead part of a "popular" group site with five or six authors, and that Cenedella was primarily commenting on the material.
Gillibrand told reporters the posts—which the Times noted were flagged by an "opponent" of Cenedella—were "disrespectful" and showed "a fundamental lack of judgment." Cenedella's response today seems to represent at least an incremental escalation of what, for now, remains an undeclared candidacy. Another Republican, Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos, is the only officially declared candidate for the nomination. (Maragos also says he is not the opponent who brought Cenedella's old blog to the Times' attention.)
Last month, Cenedella was telling party leaders he was a 9.2 on a 10-point scale of seriousness about running, and he's already enlisted veteran Republican consultants Bill O'Reilly and E. O'Brien Murray, who both helped Bob Turner win a special election in New York's heavily Democratic ninth congressional district. Cenedella has yet to set up a campaign committee with the Federal Election Commission, but has told party leaders he would be willing to fund somewhere in the neighborhood of half the cost of an expensive statewide race, and Gillibrand's office appears to be taking him seriously enough as a potential challenger to be engaging with him by name.
"Marc Cenedella is grasping at straws to change the conversation from his offensive blog posts that are unfit for any office," said Gillibrand's spokesman, Glen Caplin, in an emailed statement that noted Republican support for the bill.
"The question isn't about the difference of opinion they have with people like the Republican dean Pete King on the substance of legislation intended to protect New York jobs. This question is about Marc Cenedella's character and his lack of judgment as a C.E.O. There were almost as many excuses yesterday as there are offensive blog posts about sex and drugs by Cenedella. The question is will Ed Cox continue to stand by a potential candidate responsible for such sexist and offensive material?"
UPDATE: In a phone interview with Nick Reisman, Cenedella said he takes "full responsibility" for the posts, as the publisher of the "edgy blog," which included a number of contributors. He said he isn't sure exactly who wrote which entries.