One of the most intriguing revelations from the four reports released by the Office of Congressional Ethics may have come from that of Rep. Timothy H. Bishop, D-N.Y., who, according to the OCE, helped a constituent get government clearance for a bar mitzvah fireworks display and then asked for a campaign donation.
In May 2012, the report states, one of Bishop’s constituents sought to hold a fireworks display off a barge near his home to celebrate his son’s bar mitzvah. The U.S. Coast Guard denied a permit, as it was apparently filed after a deadline. After attempting — and failing — to get permission from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the New York Department of Environmental Conservation for an alternative location, the constituent contacted Robert Sillerman, a business associate, for advice, the report states. The business associate then offered to pass along word of his predicament to Bishop, whom he also knew.
Bishop, after making the necessary arrangements with government and local authorities for the constituent’s fireworks display, sent the following email to Sillerman, as included in the OCE report:
“Ok, so just call me the friggin mailman – we are all set with (the Constituent) [OCE BRACKETS]. Hey, would you be willing to reach out to him to ask for a contribution? If he donates before June 26, he and his wife can each do 5 large – if it is after June 26, they can each do a max of 2500…”
Bishop told the OCE that “in the email, he was relaying to Mr. Sillerman that they were ‘good to go’ and that he asked Mr. Sillerman to request a contribution because, in the past, Mr. Sillerman would occasionally solicit contributions on his behalf,” according to the report.
When another news organization started looking into the story later that summer, according to the OCE report, Bishop and the constituent engaged in a round of text messages where Bishop told the constituent to decline interviews so as to “kill this story.”
“I am being screwed,” Bishop said, according to the report.
The report states that the constituent has made repeated efforts to clear any taint from Bishop’s reputation, including issuing public statements.