Tenney rips Holden over campaign finance issues in lone televised debate in home race


Faced with issues ranging from abortion rights to inflation to only tv debate in the race for the 24th Congressional District, Republican U.S. Representative Claudia Tenney criticized Democratic challenger Steven Holden for submitting a campaign finance report more than a week late.

Holden, D-Camillus, previously blamed a technical glitch for the late filing. Its third-quarter report was due Oct. 15, under Federal Election Commission rules. But his campaign did not deliver the report until Tuesday, 10 days after the deadline.

Before he testified, the FEC sent a letter telling his campaign it had until Thursday to submit the report or face an audit, fines or “further enforcement action.” .

During Thursday’s debate hosted by WWNY-TV in Watertown, Holden was pointing out his background — he was a comptroller and chief financial officer in the U.S. military — when Tenney shot back, “Don’t let him get near our federal budget.”

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“Here’s a man who can’t even file a Federal Election Commission return on time or properly,” she said, later adding that “I’m sure he’s going to rack up fines by the FEC for not not have deposited correctly”.

Holden defended his campaign, which he said is made up of volunteers. He blamed the problems filing FEC reports on the lack of broadband access in some parts of the district. He noted that the latest filing, a pre-election report, was submitted early.

“I have over 20 years involved in federal financial management,” Holden said. “I’ll let it take care of itself.”

The candidates tackled more pressing issues during the hour-long debate. Holden and Tenney agree that action is needed to curb inflation, but their approaches differ. Tenney criticized federal spending under the Biden administration and high energy costs. Energy, she said, will be important in restoring supply chains and reducing inflation. Holden wants to target companies that profit from high inflation. It also supports investments in small businesses.

On abortion, Holden and Tenney have opposing views. Tenney says she is pro-life and sees abortion as “an important state rights issue.” She called New York a “late abortion state.” State law allows abortions up to 24 weeks of pregnancy. After 24 weeks, an abortion can be performed if the health or life of the mother is in danger or if the fetus is not viable.

Holden says he supports codifying Roe v. Wade of the Supreme Court in federal law, adding that “I object to women being treated as second-class citizens.” Roe v. Wade granted a constitutional right to abortion. That 1973 ruling was overturned by the current Supreme Court in the Dobbs case, which leaves it up to states to decide whether abortion should be legal.

Tenney is the heavy front-runner in the 24th Precinct, where former President Donald Trump won with 59% of the vote in 2020. Republicans have a big advantage in voter registration.

Tenney is seeking his third term in Congress. She has represented parts of Central New York, the Mohawk Valley, and the Southern Tier. This is Holden’s first run for political office.

Political journalist Robert Harding can be reached at (315) 282-2220 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @robertharding.


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