What a difference a week makes! In the past seven days, Kevin Powell’s tax problems were revealed, Ed Towns’ returned from a congressional delegation overseas, and both parties found themselves in court.
First things first: Congressman Ed Towns campaign withdrew a challenge to Kevin Powell’s petitions on Wednesday. Bernard Alter, attorney for the Towns campaign, stood before Honorable Michelle Weston and said, “Your Honor, on behalf of my client, we wish to withdraw this matter.” Judge Weston asked Powell campaign attorney Ezra Glazer if he had any objections. “No, Your Honor,” said Glazer. With those few words, the case was dismissed.
The Towns campaign change-of-heart came after grueling testimony solicited from two young Powell campaign volunteers on Tuesday afternoon. “It was a tough moment for our volunteers, who are in their 20’s. They were shaken up,” said Dan Campanelli, Powell campaign manager. “We didn’t pay anyone. They are volunteers, young people trying to get involved with democracy.”
Gene Johnson, Deputy Campaign Mgr., braced himself for hours of testimony on Wednesday morning. After a welcome break in court proceedings, Johnson was visible relieved.
After the decision, Alter made this statement: “We tried and didn’t succeed. We will now put it in the hands of the electorate. We will let the voters decide.” Asked why the Towns campaign withdrew, Alter said, “It is in the interest of democracy.”
Campanelli said, “Kevin Powell is pleased justice has been served. We are looking forward to focusing our campaign back on the streets where we need to be.” Powell gave this statement: ” This failed fishing expedition was nothing more than an attempt to distract the good people of the 10th Congressional District from what isn’t happening here in Brooklyn and hasn’t happened in 27 years under Congressman Ed Towns: a discussion about how the government can work with the people to bring jobs, education and community healing to those most in need.”
On Sunday, Congressman Towns arrived fresh from a whirlwind delegation to Afghanistan, Turkey, Germany and Israel. On WWRL Monday, Towns stated the trip’s purpose was to “visit with the troops and look at the contracts. There are a lot of contracts. There should be some question as to whether they are providing the services they are supposed to provide. Also, it seems people are getting the contracts and not providing the work or doing what they are supposed to do.”
November 2009, Chairman Towns wrote a letter to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates requesting “a list of all current Department of Defense contracts that have been awarded for work being performed in Iraq and Afghanistan.” There is no indication the Oversight Committee received the requested information. Yet, upon his return, Towns expressed optimism about the U.S. mission in Afghanistan. He stated, “It is only a matter of time before General Patraeus has things under control.
This is in sharp contrast to Towns’ vote in favor of a March 2010 resolution put forth by Rep. Dennis Kucinich calling for President Obama to end the U.S. involvement with Afghanistan by years end. Towns was one of 65 U.S. Representatives who voted in favor of a withdrawal from Afghanistan. On WWRL, Towns admitted voting against the war, but said, “After going and seeing it, I sure don’t know what victory means, but I think they should make life better for the people of Afghanistan.” C
Last Friday brought news of Kevin Powell’s tax issues. Published reports stated Powell owes the IRS an estimated several hundred thousand dollars. In a published statement, Powell explained how he got into financial trouble and said he is negotiating with the IRS regarding the actual amount due.