The Congressional race between incumbent Tim Bishop and challenger Randy Altschuler seems to be picking up right where it left off two years ago. The most recent row is a finger pointing campaign over who said what about Altschuler’s private corporate office on Long Island.
Bishop’s side is accusing the challenger of taking jobs out of the United States through his private companies. Altschuler’s camp says that Bishop has yet to explain what they claim is the loss of 30,000 jobs from Long Island since he’s been in Congress.
That economic argument has come to a head over a small, unoccupied office in Port Jefferson Station.
Recently, Bishop released a campaign video accusing Altschuler of dishonesty, when he says that his computer recycling company CloudBlue has an office on Long Island. The video shows a clip of Altschuler telling a crowd that his company has offices internationally and in the United States, including one in Port Jefferson Station.
The ad claims that CloudBlue doesn’t recognize the office in Long Island and that the sign and location are phony. It quotes a Newsday story saying that there are no employees there. In an ad sent out on June 4, Bishop’s people said “Altschuler has been going around the district, bragging about his company’s office in Port Jefferson. The problem is – that office doesn’t exist.”
The message spurred the challenger’s campaign into action, sending out copies of letters from the landlord of the building and the CEO of CloudBlue addressed to Bishop defending the claims made by Altschuler and accusing the incumbent of harrassment.
“As the landlord at 1010 Route 112 who signed a legal lease with Mr. Altschuler and for the office space in question, and someone who has steadily received rent checks from Mr. Altschuler and CloudBlue for that office space since 2009, l felt it was important to inform you that your baseless charge against Mr. Altschuler is 100 percent factually incorrect,” wrote landlord Charles Alter in his letter.
The Altschuler campaign did confirm that one thing in the ad is actually correct: there are no employees of CloudBlue at the office.
“No employees, and Randy hasn't claimed any,” said Altschuler spokesperson Chris Russell.
CloudBlue referred our questions about the office to Russell.
He called the ad “nonsense.”
“Bishop is attacking Randy over something Randy never said or claimed,” he said.
The office, according to Russell is just a personal space for Altschuler to conduct CloudBlue business close to his home.
Patch went to the 1010 Executive Center on Route 112 on Tuesday morning. There is an office on the third floor with a nameplate for CloudBlue on the door and the company is listed in the directory but not on a sign outside of the building. No one answered the door at the office.
When asked why he thought Bishop claims there is no office when there is evidence to the contrary and it can be easily confirmed, Russell said “You’ll have to ask him that question.”
“I have no idea why he made an attack that was so easily debunked, other than the fact that he thought he could get away with it,” he said.
Bishop’s office says that they do know there’s an office in Port Jefferson Station; they just don’t believe it’s real.
“There is an office with a CloudBlue plate on the door,” said the communication manager for Bishop’s re-election campaign, Robert Pierce “Anyone can go there and see that it does exist.”
They say that while technically it’s true that it is there, it's the fact that Altschuler references the Port Jefferson Station location whenever he’s asked about creating jobs through his private companies that they take issue with.
“The point we're making is the office doesn't exist in any manner that Randy says it does — obviously there is a small room with no employees in Port Jefferson,” said Pierce.
He said that CloudBlue doesn't even know about the office, as evidenced by a recording of a company operator in the video telling a caller that their closest office is in New Jersey.
Pierce claims that CloudBlue even played games with its website. At first it did not have the Port Jefferson Station office listed. Then, he says, the website showed the location as a logistics center.
“Right before the election in 2010, CloudBlue lists the office as a logistics center,” said Pierce. “Then after the election they take it down like it never existed, then last month they list it as a processing facility, and now they've taken it down again.”
Russell attributes the appearing and disappearing act to CloudBlue employees overreacting to calls from the Bishop people asking about its existence. He said that the website only lists Secure Logistics Center, Processing Facilities and Partner Processing Locations.
“The Port Jeff office is none of those things,” he said.
CloudBlue employees listed it on the website under one of those categories when they shouldn't have, according to Russell. He said that they did it only after the Bishop campaign started calling them and attacking Randy about it.
“Neither Randy or the campaign ever asked them to do so,” he said calling it an “innocent mistake” that was cleared up.
Bishop’s camp isn’t buying it.
“Renting space doesn't make an office,” said Pierce. “An office requires employees and operations, both of which Randy has admitted don't exist at that location.”
Another point that Altshuler’s campaign is making hay over is repeated calls that Bishop’s office has made to the CloudBlue offices to verify its information.
Russell said that they made countless calls over the past couple of weeks.
“He even secretly recorded one of the phone calls and put it in his attack video,” he said.
In a letter to Bishop released by the Altschuler campaign, CloudBlue CEO Ken Beyer called it a “coordinated campaign of intimidation and harassment” on his employees.
Russell said that the whole episode shows Bishop’s lack of respect for small business people, their employees and their clients.
“This whole episode is much ado about nothing and another example of why Tim Bishop is part of the problem in Washington, D.C.,” said Russell in a statement released on Monday accompanying the letters about the calls over Altschuler’s office.
Pierce refutes those claims.
“The campaign called CloudBlue's office on two occasions to find out more about them after Randy made CloudBlue part of his campaign,” he said.
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