… But not for the reasons you’d expect.

The New York State Republican Committee is hopping mad over an apparent lack of focus toward matters of import by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand:

The U.S. Department of Labor reported yesterday that unemployment rates were lower in June than a year earlier in 328 of the 372 metropolitan areas across America, with only 32 metro areas registering higher unemployment. 

Shockingly, each and every one of New York’s 13 metropolitan areas registered higher unemployment year-over-year with the state rate at 9.1% and a New York City rate at 10.3%.  New York State accounted for more than one-third of all the areas nationwide that reported higher unemployment rates. 

Senator Gillibrand’s answer? 

Pass a budget?  No!  

Cut taxes and cut spending to allow job growth?  No! 

Get cosponsors for her own phony “jobs bills” and get them to the Senate floor? No! 

Stand up for New York’s interests in Washington?  No! 

Gillibrand’s answer:  Book Club!

Indeed, Gillibrand will be hosting a second online book club chat this evening for the web site “OffTheSidelines.org”, claiming the effort is about “bringing women’s voices to the forefront” and “focus(ing) on the issues and stories that are important to us”.

Wendy Long, candidate for U.S. Senate, responded to the out of touch event:

“Whether it’s Main Street or Wall Street, upstate or downstate, New Yorkers’ interests are being sold out, our future mortgaged, and our earning power taxed by a flip-flopping Senator who is a puppet of national special interests in Washington, instead of taking the initiative to help the economy and jobs for New Yorkers,” said U.S. Senate candidate Wendy Long.   

Long added, “Kirsten Gillibrand says she’s ‘fine’ that Obamacare is a tax, she supports raising income taxes on small business owners and suburban and downstate voters, she opposes economic growth through her opposition to the development of shale gas, and she is crippling middle and entry-level financial sector jobs and consumer lending through her support of Dodd-Frank.  As Senator, I will work to reverse each and every one of her job killing policies and implement pro-growth, pro-freedom policies instead.  She is running from debates and holding book clubs because she can’t defend her record of failure to New Yorkers.”

There is however, a method to Gillibrand’s madness.  The Off the Sidelines book club isn’t totally about books, or women’s issues for that matter.

It’s about campaign contributions.

Via Buffalo News:

Then there’s the “contribute” button — where every dollar women contribute goes not to any independent organization called OffTheSidelines.org, but to Gillibrand’s 2012 re-election campaign.

That last fact leaves advocates of good government thinking that Gillibrand has taken what her supporters call a noble and necessary cause — women’s rights — and converted it into yet another political fundraising opportunity.

“It’s not actually noble,” said Melanie Sloan, founder and executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics, a nonpartisan good-government group based in Washington.

“I think it’s totally misleading,” Sloan said of OffTheSidelines.org, which never explicitly says dollars donated there go to the Gillibrand re-election campaign. “I think it’s technically legal, but I don’t think it’s OK.”

Perhaps New Yorkers would be better served reading the policies and platforms espoused by Kirsten Gillibrand, and contrast those advocated by Wendy Long.  In the end they may just find Long’s common sense conservatism to be a better way to get women ‘off the sidelines’ than any stereotypical book club ever could.