See for yourself
The YouTube video of U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko speeding on the Thruway can be viewed on the Editor's Notebook blog.
CAPITAL REGION It looks like U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko was in a bit of a hurry May 17.
A video posted on YouTube the following day shows Tonko’s car — identified by his “U.S. Congress District 20” license plate — weaving in and out of traffic eastbound on Interstate 90.
A passenger in a nearby car took the video as the driver, according to the video, maintained a speed of more than 90 mph to keep up with Tonko, a Democrat from Amsterdam.
“It appears to be the Congressman’s car and, while the speed of the vehicle cannot be confirmed, he pledges to slow down in the future,” Sean Magers, communications director for Tonko, said in a statement.
Jim Fischer, a Republican vying to unseat Tonko in the November election, posted the YouTube video to Twitter on Wednesday. He called the video “troubling” and “an abuse of power.”
“He is obviously driving extremely fast, and he has acknowledged that,” Fischer said. “He is distracted and driving erratically and dangerously, frankly. To me, it speaks to an abuse of power. That’s what it is, plain and simple. And I’m sure the people on the road didn’t feel too safe.”
After watching the video, Magers could not confirm where Tonko was driving. According to his public schedule, Tonko attended seven events throughout the Capital Region on May 17 , from 9:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.:
• Cystic Fibrosis Walk at 580 Albany Shaker Road in Loudonville from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m.
• Niska Day Parade at 1801 Union St. in Niskayuna from 11 to 12 p.m.
• Village of Ravena 100th Anniversary Parade at 66 Church St. in Coeymans from 12:45 to 2 p.m.
• Amsterdam Spring Fling on Main Street in Amsterdam from 3 to 4 p.m.
• Shmaltz Brewing Company Anniversary Fest at 6 Fairchild Square in Clifton Park from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m.
• Amsterdam Permanent Firefighters Association at 130 Guy Park Ave. in Amsterdam from 6 to 7 p.m.
• St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Church at 440 Whitehall Road in Albany from 7:30 to 9 p.m.
Tonko puts an average of 50,000 miles on his car, a Lincoln, each year, according to Magers, and pays for his car, gas and tolls himself. The only travel that is paid for by his office is train rides between Albany and Washington D.C.
According to a state trooper with Troop T — which patrols the Thruway — if Tonko’s alleged speeding were reported, it would have been investigated. But the person who observed Tonko’s driving can still file a report.
The trooper, who wished to remain anonymous, said if the people who observed Tonko driving were willing to file a report, part of the investigation would include looking at the video and interviewing the parties involved.
The video can be found on YouTube with the title “Congressman Paul Tonko Speeding 90+” uploaded by mikheii. It has 1,974 views, five likes and one dislike.
“U.S. Congress 20 speeding,” the videographer said, laughing. “I wonder where that guy lives, how much money he makes and if he is married. And I wonder if he makes his bed.”