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Laura Bush to visit Saratoga

First Lady Laura Bush will make her first trip to Saratoga Springs Wednesday, Oct. 4, to attend a fundraiser for U.S. Rep. John E. Sweeney, R-Clifton Park.

The fundraising cocktail reception will be held at the Hall of Springs in the Saratoga Spa State Park.

Organizers are encouraging guests to arrive early because although the event is scheduled from 5 to 6 p.m., doors will close at 4:30 p.m. for security reasons, according to Sweeney spokeswoman Maureen Donovan.

A break in price from Sweeney's last event in Saratoga Springs a $1,000-a-plate dinner tickets to the cocktail hour will start at $150. To be dubbed an "event co-chair" and receive a photo opportunity with the first lady, one can commit to raising $10,000 for the event. If that's a bit too steep, one can raise $2,100 for the event and be an "event co-host."

Donovan touts the event as an opportunity for the people of upstate New York to meet the first lady, but Alison Price, a spokes-woman for Sweeney's challenger Kirsten Gillibrand, said this is merely a pat on the back for Sweeney's unwavering allegiance to President George W. Bush's policies.

First Lady Laura Bush joins other Republican notables including former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, in coming to Saratoga Springs to campaign for Sweeney.

In other congressional race news, Sweeney has drawn the ire of Democrats over an issue that arose from his visit with Giuliani last month. An event at the Lake Avenue Firehouse at which the firefighters union announced its endorsement of Sweeney for re-election may have violated the city ethics code, according to the city Board of Ethics.

Public Safety Commissioner Ronald Kim had asked the ethics board for an opinion about whether the event violated the code of ethics governing city employees. The opinion he received said that "political activity by city officers and employees at the work site and during working hours is not appropriate." However, the opinion notes that "the ethics board does not have information as to the city employees who may have arranged or participated in this event."

The city's code of ethics states: "Officers or employees shall not make use of a city workplace to request, or authorize another to use a city workplace to request, that any officer or employee participate in an election campaign, political event, or contribute to a political party or committee. Officers or employees shall not display, distribute or otherwise utilize election campaign literature or materials at a city workplace."

According to published reports, Kim, a Democrat, said he would pursue the alleged ethics violation as a personal matter. ""

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