"We are dismayed by today's explosive story in Politico detailing how Congressman Tim Bishop apparently sought up to $10,000 in campaign contributions from local resident Eric Semler in exchange for Bishop's congressional office securing expedited approval on special environmental permits for a private fireworks show at Semler's Southampton home.
On the heels of a non-partisan ethics group criticizing Congressman Bishop for abusing his power to funnel nearly $600,000 to a family member and their business, and his admission that he put ten family members on the payroll at debt-ridden Southampton College when he was in charge there, today's story clearly demonstrates a pattern of unethical and, in this case, possibly illegal behavior by a career politician who has been in Washington for too long.
In reading Congressman Bishop's defense, it's stunningly clear that after ten years in Congress he doesn't even understand House Ethics rules, which clearly state that soliciting campaign contributions of any size linked with official action is strictly prohibited, especially when the request for official action is pending or has occurred.
In closing, we agree with Mr. Semler, that Molly Bishop's inappropriate and unethical email soliciting him for a sizable campaign contribution while the fate of the fireworks permit hung in the balance was "really gross.' What the residents of Suffolk County are entitled to know is whether it was a crime."