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November 2, 2008 - 10:36am

Chris Lee's 'mistake' making headlines this morning

posted by Howard B. Owens in Alice Kryzan, Chris Lee, NY-26.

It looks like both the Chris Lee and Alice Kryzan campaigns were busy yesterday trading shots over revelations that Lee was fired from a job in 1989 for allegedly hacking into his employer's computers (we say "allegedly" because Lee has only admitted to a "mistake" not the specific act).

Lee's campaign manager Nick Langworthy told WROC that revelations of his boss's dismissal was just a smear from the Alice Kryzan campaign.

"If there's one thing that can be learned from this 11th hour stunt, it's that Alice Kryzan is willing to say and do anything to elected to congress."

Kryzan responded by saying, "I was even more disappointed to hear that rather than admit the gravity of his actions, he instead once again, attacked me and my campaign."

Lee took up the charge against the Kryzan campaign himself when speaking with the Buffalo News:

Asked about the incident on Saturday, Lee said: “It’s not a commentary on my character. I was a young man, I made a mistake, I broke a company policy, I recognized that, I was let go, and I moved on and turned out to have a successful career.”

Lee pinned the revelation about his firing on his opponent — even after being told that e-mails detailing his firing arrived at The Buffalo News independently of the Kryzan campaign.

“It’s frustrating that three days outside the election there’s a desperate attack by Alice, who’s down in the polls, to continue to smear my name,” Lee said.

Lee spoke shortly after Kryzan tore into him at a news conference, saying he was ducking responsibility for his own failings.

“He has made this an issue in this campaign by blaming me for his bad behavior. I didn’t tell him to hack into his employer’s computer system,” said Kryzan, who added: “This issue speaks to Chris Lee’s basic integrity.”

The theme was repeated in the Democrat & Chronicle:

"Chris Lee's first response was to blame me," said Kryzan, 60, during a news conference at her headquarters in Williamsville, Erie County. "Be very clear about this, I did not tell Chris Lee to hack into his employer's computer system for his own personal gain. I did not tell Chris Lee to break the rules."

When reporters caught up with Lee, 44, at a Republican rally in Amherst, he said he did not gain financially from his "mistake."

"I broke a company policy. I've gone on and had a very successful career creating jobs," he said. "Unfortunately there's this desperate attack three days out. ... That's frustrating when I'm trying to do something positive for this community."

Lee's campaign, without Lee present, held its own news conference outside Kryzan's headquarters immediately following Kryzan's news conference. His campaign brought supporters waving campaign signs.

"Alice Kryzan knows that the voters of western New York are prepared to reject her job-killing agenda," said Lee's campaign manager, Nick Langworthy.

It's disappointing that to this point Chris Lee has failed to come forward with a full and transparent accounting of his actions at Ingram Micro.  Lee and Langworthy are dragging themselves down into the mud by trying to turn this revelation into an attack on Kryzan. It's a smoke screen and completely irrelevant to Lee's responsibility to tell the voters the full story before Tuesday. If he isn't willing to do that, how can he possibly be a trustworthy representative of Western New York?

UPDATE: Buffalo Pundit live blogged the radio debate between Kryzan and Lee this morning. No mention of the "mistake."

UPDATE II: Here's Buffalo Bean's assessment of the debate.

Lorie Longhany
Lorie Longhany's picture
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Last seen: 4 years 6 months ago
Joined: May 2 2008 - 10:33pm
Good question Howard. As a partisan the first thing that I asked myself when I heard about Lee's dismissal when he was 25 was: am I objective in a criticism of this youthful failing because I support Alice? I then answered my own question by looking at my own work history. I have NEVER been fired in 35 years in the workforce. One job was lost to outsourcing and that's when I started my small business as a working artist, but I never compromised any employer of mine in any way shape or form. Using his age as an excuse is just that - an excuse. At 25, I actually knew right from wrong and more importantly I had two children that depended on their parents to be responsible. I just wonder how many people in the 26th district can actually relate to Chris Lee on this. How many people have been fired for hacking into their employers computer system to bolster sales commissions? I'll bet not many. I just find it ironic that Lee's indiscretion that led to his dismissal is exactly what the financial institutions did to the housing market and we see the results of that. We need to hear from Mr. Lee on this. This goes to the heart of trust and integrity.
Howard B. Owens
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Last seen: 10 hours 28 min ago
Joined: Apr 23 2008 - 3:05pm
Lorie, political history has shown, voters can be forgiving, if they perceive the person who transgressed in any way can come clean. If they hide behind counter attacks and hide from full disclosure, voters can pass harsh judgments. Prior to this, a recent poll showed Lee with a comfortable lead. Given how calculating Langworthy has run Mr. Lee's campaign, the question they must be asking themselves is the lead enough to allow for a lack of full disclosure and continued attempts to make Kryzan look desperate by talking about it? I'm surprised Langworthy hasn't pulled out the favorite GOP tactic when unfavorable news comes out: Blame the media. It's often effective in retaining the base.

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