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Kirsten Gillibrand, a Democrat, is the Junior Senator from New York in the United States Senate. She represented the 20th Congressional District of New York (map) between 2007-2009. On January 23, 2009, Gillibrand was appointed by New York Governor David Paterson to fill the seat in the United States Senate vacated by Hillary Clinton, who assumed the office of United States Secretary of State in President Barack Obama's administration. She resigned from the House of Representatives on January 26, 2009, and was sworn in as a senator on January 27.
- 1 Record and controversies
- 2 Tobacco industry involvement
- 3 Biography
- 4 Money in politics
- 5 Committees and affiliations
- 6 More background data
- 7 Contact
- 8 Articles and resources
Record and controversies
Tobacco industry involvement
On March 27, 2009, the New York Times published an article detailing the extent to which Kirsten Gillibrand was involved with cigarette maker Philip Morris during her time as a lawyer with the global legal firm Davis, Polk & Wardwell. A former colleague of Gillibrand's at Davis Polk, Vincent Chang, told the Times that lawyers at Davis Polk were permitted to decline work on the tobacco cases if they had a moral or ethical objection to the work. Ms. Gillibrand did not decline to work for PM.
Under her maiden name Kirsten Rutnik (sometimes misspelled "Rutnick"), Gillibrand was involved at high levels in the legal affairs of Philip Morris. In 1998, while an attorney with Davis, Polk & Wardwell, she served on Philip Morris' Privilege and Crime Fraud Committee, which was comprised of attorneys from both inside and outside Philip Morris. A description of the Crime Fraud Committee's function is contained in a July 18, 1998 Philip Morris email authored by another attorney representing PM, Inc. and Philip Morris Companies, Thomas J. Frederick. Frederick wrote,
"... I believe the group below comprises what I'm calling the Philip Morris Crime/Fraud Issues
Committee, which, as I understand it, should be consulted with respect to just about any privilege issue that might arise in any case, but especially crime/fraud issues:
A 1999 fax cover sheet sent to Kirsten Rutnik (Gillibrand) further confirms that she was a participant on Philip Morris' Privilege and Crime Fraud Committee, along with the other advisors mentioned in the email above. Several of her colleagues on this Committee were partners at their respective law firms.
Two of her colleagues on the Privilege and Crime Fraud Committee, John Mulderig of Philip Morris' Legal Department and Leslie Wharton of the law firm Arnold and Porter, co-authored an article about the strategic danger to corporations of plaintiffs challenging privilege claims in lawsuits, which gives insight into potential areas of concern of members of PM's Privilege and Crime Fraud Committee.
Gillibrand served on PM's elite Privilege and Crime Fraud Committee during a particularly contentious and perilous time for Philip Morris and the other American tobacco companies. In June, 1997, during the height of the onslaught of state lawsuits against the tobacco industry to recoup Medicaid funds spent treating sick smokers, the U.S. House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight filed a Minority Staff Report charging that attorneys who worked for the major U.S. tobacco companies had misused attorney-client privilege to shield important documents regarding the health implications of their products from the public, and thus had advanced corporate crime or fraud. The Committee wrote:
It appears that lawyers have been at the heart of a tobacco industry strategy to cast doubt on whether smoking causes cancer and to keep detrimental research on human health effects from the public. Lawyers can function largely out of view because they can shield their work product behind the attorney-client privilege. Several courts, however, have recently been presented with attorney-client documents for in camera review. These courts have determined that the tobacco industry's attorney-client documents contain evidence of a tobacco industry crime or fraud -- and should therefore be disclosed.
- In 1998, Kirsten Rutnik (Gillibrand) consulted with Roger G. Whidden, Vice President of Philip Morris Worldwide Regulatory Affairs and Associate General Counsel for Philip Morris, regarding a draft of a document on nitrosamines, one of the carcinogenic components in tobacco smoke.
- Kirsten Rutnik (Gillibrand) was also in contact with Dr. Wolf Reininghaus, General Manager of Philip Morris' overseas contract research lab, the Institut fur Biologische Forschung, or INBIFO, in Cologne, Germany. The lab specialized in performing inhalation toxicology tests on secondhand tobacco smoke. Between 1981 and 1989 scientists at INBIFO performed at least 115 studies for PM on the toxicity of secondhand tobacco smoke, but PM never published the results of these studies. The tests performed at INBIFO revealed that secondhand smoke is four times more toxic by inhalation and 2-6 times more tumorigenic on skin than mainstream smoke (the smoke the smoker himself inhales).
- Gillibrand (Rutnik) visited INBIFO in person in January-Feburary 1996, with PM attorney John Mulderig 
- Rutnik visited INBIFO again on March 12, 1998.
Political courage test
Rep. Gillibrand did not respond to the 2008 Political Courage Test when asked to do so by national leaders of the political parties, prominent members of the media, Project Vote Smart President Richard Kimball, and Project Vote Smart staff.
Financial bailout bill
Gillibrand voted against the $700 billion bailout bill in the 110th Congress, saying the bill did not do enough to protect taxpayers nor did it provide enough financial return for taxpayers investment.
Gillibrand campaigned in 2008 on a record of voting to improve automotive mileage standards, for investments in renewable energy, and for tax credits to small businesses that embraced the use of alternative energy supplies. She also called on domestic energy producers to use existing leases for oil and gas development and for a release of oil from the country's Strategic Petroleum Reserve.
During her 2008 re-election campaign, Gillibrand pledged to support a national health-care system that Americans could buy into. This plan would be an alternative to plans already offered by private insurers. She also said small businesses should be encouraged, through the use of tax credits, to offer health insurance to their workers, and she also approved of giving tax credits to low-income families who elected to purchase health care.
In 2008, the National Rifle Association gave Gillibrand a 100-percent rating in its lawmaker scorecard. Gillibrand also introduced legislation in the farm bill that would have increased lands available for conservation and hunting.
Gillibrand said she was also among the first to post her earmark requests online and to voluntary post her personal financial disclosure forms as well.
Born in Albany, Gillibrand graduated from Dartmouth College and the University of California, Los Angeles Law School. After graduation, she worked as a law clerk on the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. During the Clinton Administration, she served as Special Counsel to the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. At the time she ran for Congress in 2006, she was a partner in the law firm Boies, Schiller & Flexner. She and her husband Jonathan have two children.
Gillibrand faced Sandy Treadwell (R), a former New York State GOP chairman, in the 2008 congressional election. The incumbent raised more than $4 million to beat back Treadwell's self-financed challenge, holding on to her conservative upstate district with a centrist message and record in Congress.
On December 1, 2008, then President-elect Barack Obama announced his nomination of Hillary Clinton for Secretary of State. Clinton's confirmation created a vacancy in the Senate to be filled by appointment by Gov. David Paterson. Gillibrand was one of several people rumored by the media, including Caroline Kennedy and Gillibrand's former boss, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, to be under consideration as Clinton's replacement. Clinton was confirmed as Secretary of State and resigned her Senate seat on January 21, 2009.
On January 23, Paterson named Gillibrand as his appointee to Clinton's vacated seat. Paterson said Gillibrand would serve in that role until a special election is held in November 2010 for remainder of Clinton's term (which ends with the 112th Congress in January 2013). Gillibrand acknowledged many New York residents did not know her, and pledged to follow in Clinton's example and work hard for her constituents. Gillibrand resigned from the House of Representatives on January 26, 2009.
On the day of the appointment, Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.) announced she would challenge Gillibrand in the 2010 Democratic primary. A likely Republican opponent is Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), who has shown interest in running for the Senate seat. The seat's regular election cycle continues in 2012, for the six-year term ending in 2019. 
Money in politics
This section contains links to – and feeds from – money in politics databases.
|Links to more campaign contribution information for Kirsten Gillibrand
from the Center for Responsive Politics' OpenSecrets.org site.
|Fundraising profile:||2006 election cycle||Career totals|
|Top contributors by organization/corporation:||2006 election cycle||Career totals|
|Top contributors by industry:||2006 election cycle||Career totals|
- Revolving door profile for Kirsten Gillibrand from the Center for Responsive Politics' OpenSecrets.org website.
- 2006 privately funded travel profile for Kirsten Gillibrand from the Center for Responsive Politics' OpenSecrets.org website.
- Personal finance profile for Kirsten Gillibrand from the Center for Responsive Politics' OpenSecrets.org website.
Committees and affiliations
- House Committee on Agriculture
- Subcommittee on Conservation, Credit, Energy, and Research
- Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry
- Subcommittee on Horticulture and Organic Agriculture
- House Committee on Armed Services
- Subcommittee on Seapower and Expeditionary Forces
- Subcommittee on Terrorism, Unconventional Threats and Capabilities
More background data
Hudson District Office:
446 Warren Street
Hudson, New York 12534
Phone: (518) 828-3109
Fax: (518) 828-3985
Glens Falls District Office:
333 Glen Street, Suite 302
Glens Falls, New York 12801
Phone: (518) 743-0964
Fax: (518) 743-1391
Saratoga Springs District Office:
487 Broadway Street
Saratoga Springs, New York 12866
Phone: (518) 581-8247
Fax: (518) 581-8430
Articles and resources
- "Gillibrand sworn in as N.Y. senator," The Washington Times, January 27, 2009
- Raymond Hernandez, David Kocieniewski, New York Times As New Lawyer, Senator Was Active in Tobacco’s Defense, March 27, 2009. Front page.
- Thomas J. Frederick [legacy.library.ucsf.edu/tid/emk05a0 Privilege Issues] Email. 1 page. July 18, 1998. Philip Morris Bates No. 2074667523A
- Maura Scott Blank, Heller Erman Privilege and Crime Fraud Advisers Facsimile Transmittal Fax cover sheet. April 14, 1999. 1 page. Bates No. 2075311186
- Philip Morris Philip Morris Privilege Logs, "R" Section, Accessed March 14, 2009
- Cynthia Cecil Hunton & Williams, John J. Mulderig, Philip Morris, Leslie Wharton, Arnold & Porter Crime-Fraud: The Tobacco Cases May Only Be the Tip of the Iceberg For Assaults on Privilege in Civil Fraud Litigation Draft article. September 20, 1999. 33 pp. Philip Morris Bates No. 2074670047/007
- Committee on Government Reform and Oversight Minority Staff Report Secret Attorney-Client Documents Are Evidence ofPotential Crimes or Fraud by the Tobacco Industry June 12, 1997. 17 pp., accessed March 14, 2009
- Roger G. Whidden, Philip Morris Management Corporation Untitled letter, 1 page. April 27, 1998. Bates No. 2063779182
- Wolf Reininghaus, INBIFO Institut fur biologische Forschung GmbH [ http://legacy.library.ucsf.edu/tid/uvo15c00 Telefax Message No.:1661] Fax cover sheet. 1 page. August 25, 1997. Philip Morris Bates No. 2505430823
- Schick S, Glantz S. Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education, University of California San Francisco. Philip Morris toxicological experiments with fresh sidestream smoke: more toxic than mainstream smoke Tobacco Control 2005;14:396-404
- John J. Mulderig, Philip Morris No title Letter. January 30, 1996. Bates No. 2043709943
- Wolf Reininghaus, INBIFO Telefax Message No.: 2333 March 10, 1998. 1 page. Philip Morris Bates No. 2505430432
- "Representative Kirsten E. Gillibrand (NY)" Project Vote Smart, retrieved January 23, 2008
- "Kirsten Gillibrand for Congress - On the Issues" KirstenGillibrand.com, retrieved January 23, 2009
- "SUNLIGHT UPS THE ANTE ON MAKING CONGRESSIONAL SCHEDULES PUBLIC," Sunlight Foundation Blog, November 14, 2006
- Aaron Blake, "Gillibrand pick starts political dominoes," The Hill, January 23, 2009
- The Woman Who Might Take Hillary's Senate Seat The Daily Beast, November 26, 2008
- Danny Hakim and Nicholas Confessore, "Paterson Picks Gillibrand for Senate Seat," The New York Times, January 23, 2009
- "Short Mechanical Note on Gillibrand," CongressMatters.com, January 26, 20098
- Class I - Senators Whose Term of Service Expire in 2013, Senate.gov, retrieved January 23, 2009
Related Sourcewatch resources
- Kirsten Gillibrand/Schedule: The Congresspedia archive of Rep. Gillibrand's daily schedule.
- Philip Morris
- Philip Morris Privilege and Crime Fraud Committee
- Philip Morris Corporate Affairs
Local blogs and discussion sites
|Current Office: U.S. Senate|
Ranking Member On:
Founder, Congressional High Tech Caucus
Ranking Member On:
Founder, Congressional High Tech Caucus
|Committees: House Committee on Agriculture, House Committee on Agriculture/Subcommittee on Conservation Credit Energy and Research, House Committee on Agriculture/Subcommittee on Horticulture and Organic Agriculture, House Committee on Agriculture/Subcommittee on Livestock Dairy and Poultry, House Committee on Armed Services, House Roles and Missions Panel, House Roles and Missions Panel/Subcommittee on Seapower and Expeditionary Forces, House Roles and Missions Panel/Subcommittee on Terrorism Unconventional Threats and Capabilities|
|First Elected to Current Office:
November 7, 2006
|First Took Current Office:
January 27, 2009
November 2, 2010
|Previous Political Work?
U.S. House of Representatives
|Other Party Membership:|
|Zip Code Affiliations:|
Date of Birth: December 9, 1966