Buzzards are circling the corpse.
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Proverbially speaking, of course, but it is safe to assume Democratic Congressman Tim Bishop faces a tough reelection campaign next year, even after five terms in the House of Representatives.
That's what a Congressional Ethics Probe and an FBI investigation will do to an incumbent – make him vulnerable.
Already, two Republican candidates have announced their intention to make a run for Bishop's seat.
State Senator Lee Zeldin, of Shirley, 33, announced at the beginning of this month he will enter the fray. "The best way to end the dysfunction [in Washington] is to change the people we send there," Zeldin said. He ran against Bishop in 2008 and lost, though he garnered 48 percent of the vote. Zeldin won a seat in the New York State Senate two years later.
The following week George Demos, a lawyer and former U.S. SEC prosecutor, said he will make another run at Bishop as well. Demos has sought the Republican nomination to run against Bishop twice in the past but failed to get the party's nod.
Demos, in a message to supporters, said: "We must hold Washington and Albany politicians accountable for their deeds -- and in the case of Liberal Tim Bishop, for their misdeeds." Demos, 37, was born on Shelter Island and now lives in Holbrook.
Last month it was announced that a three-month investigation by the Office Of Congressional Ethics (OCE) concluded "There is a substantial reason to believe that a violation of House rules, standards of conduct and federal law occurred." The matter has since been turned over to the House Committee On Ethics.
Bishop is accused of doing a favor for a constituent and asking for a large donation as part of the deal. Such a quid-pro-quo agreement is against the law.
The Independent also revealed that the Federal Bureau of Investigation also looked into the matter – specifically if Bishop exerted pressure on various officials to push through a fireworks permit for the constituent, Eric Semler, while at the same time requesting a $10,000 contribution from him. An FBI spokeswoman declined to answer when asked if the investigation was active.
Demos got an early boost last Thursday when former New York State Governor George Pataki issued a ringing endorsement. "I am proud to endorse George Demos for Congress," Pataki said in a statement. "George's impressive work prosecuting corporate corruption as an enforcement attorney with the Securities and Exchange Commission is a demonstration of the strength of character necessary to be an effective advocate for Long Islanders."
State Republican Party head Ed Cox lined up for Zeldin, calling the candidate, "an honorable and dedicated public servant with an impressive background as a military officer and former federal prosecutor. As a State Senator, Lee has proven himself to be a man of his word, fighting tirelessly to uphold those values and fulfill his campaign promises-cutting onerous taxes and fees, creating jobs and protecting our veterans."
State Conservative Party Chair Michael Long also endorsed Zeldin stating he is, "an independent thinker who's not afraid to make the tough decisions that are so lacking in DC right now . . . He is exactly the sort of new blood and fresh perspective we need to put an end to the D.C. chaos."
Randy Altschuler, a businessman who founded Office Tiger, ran against Bishop in 2010 and 2012, losing an extremely close election the first time around. Bishop had an easier time of it, despite the fact that the "Plovergate" scandal came to light during the campaign. The scandal was so-named because Bishop was able to secure a fireworks permit for Semler despite the fact there was an active Piping Plover nest near Semlear's Sagaponack oceanfront mansion. The Plover is a federally protected species.
The Bishop camp, which has been in lockdown mode since the investigation intensified, did not return a request for comment.