|United States Senator
from New York
January 26, 2009
Serving with Chuck Schumer
|Preceded by||Hillary Rodham Clinton|
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 20th district
January 3, 2007 – January 26, 2009
|Preceded by||John E. Sweeney|
|Succeeded by||Scott Murphy|
|Born||Kirsten Elizabeth Rutnik
December 9, 1966
Albany, New York, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Jonathan Gillibrand (m. 2001)|
|Children||Theodore Gillibrand (b. 2003)
Henry Gillibrand (b. 2008)
|Residence||Brunswick, New York|
|Alma mater||Dartmouth College (B.A.)
UCLA School of Law (J.D.)
Kirsten Elizabeth Rutnik Gillibrand (/ / KEER-stən JIL-ə-brand; born December 9, 1966) is an American politician and the junior United States Senator from New York, in office since 2009. Previously she served in the United States House of Representatives, representing New York's 20th congressional district, from 2007 to 2009. She is a member of the Democratic Party.
In December 2008, President-elect Barack Obama nominated Hillary Rodham Clinton as Secretary of State, leaving an empty seat in the New York senate delegation. After two months and many potential names considered, Governor David Paterson appointed Gillibrand to fill the seat. Gillibrand was required to run in a special election in 2010, which she won with 63% of the vote. She was re-elected to a full six-year term in 2012 with 72% of the vote, the highest margin for any statewide candidate in New York.
A member of the Democratic Party's relatively conservative Blue Dog faction while in the House, Gillibrand has been seen as a progressive since her appointment to the Senate. In both cases, her views were significantly defined by the respective constituency she served at the time—a conservative congressional district versus the generally liberal state of New York. For example, while quiet on the U.S. military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy when she was in the House, during her first 18 months in the Senate Gillibrand was an important part of the successful campaign to repeal this.
Early life and education
Gillibrand was born in Albany, New York, on December 9, 1966, the daughter of Polly Edwina (née Noonan) and Douglas Paul Rutnik. Both parents are attorneys, and her father is a Republican Party lobbyist. The couple divorced in the late 1980s. Gillibrand has an older brother, Doug Rutnik, and a younger sister, Erin Rutnik Tschantret. Her maternal grandmother is Dorothea "Polly" Noonan, founder of the Albany Democratic Women's Club, as well as a leader in Albany Mayor Erastus Corning's powerful political machine, which lasted for more than 40 years.[Note 1] She has Austrian, Scottish, German, and Irish ancestry.
During her childhood and college years, Gillibrand used the nickname "Tina." She began to use her birth name of Kirsten a few years after law school. In 1984 she graduated from Emma Willard School, an all-women's high school in Troy, New York, and then enrolled at Dartmouth College. Gillibrand majored in Asian Studies, studying in both Beijing and Taiwan. While in Beijing, she studied and lived with Connie Britton. Gillibrand graduated magna cum laude in 1988. While at Dartmouth, she was a member of the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority. During college, Gillibrand interned at Republican U.S. Senator Alfonse D'Amato's Albany office. Following Dartmouth, Gillibrand attended UCLA School of Law, graduating and passing her bar exam in 1991.
In 1991, Gillibrand joined the Manhattan-based law office of Davis Polk & Wardwell as an associate. In 1992, she took a leave from Davis Polk to serve as a law clerk to Judge Roger Miner on the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in Albany.
Gillibrand's tenure at Davis Polk is best known for her work as a defense attorney for Tobacco company Philip Morris during major litigation, including both civil lawsuits and U.S. Justice Department criminal and civil racketeering probes. She became a senior associate while working on Philip Morris litigation.
While working at Davis Polk, Gillibrand became involved in—and later the leader of—the Women's Leadership Forum, a program of the Democratic National Committee. Gillibrand states that a speech to the group by then-First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton inspired her: "[Clinton] was trying to encourage us to become more active in politics and she said, 'If you leave all the decision-making to others, you might not like what they do, and you will have no one but yourself to blame.' It was such a challenge to the women in the room. And it really hit me: She's talking to me."
Following her time at Davis Polk, Gillibrand served as Special Counsel to Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Andrew Cuomo during the last year of the Clinton administration. Gillibrand worked on HUD's Labor Initiative and its New Markets Initiative, as well as on TAP's Young Leaders of the American Democracy, and strengthening Davis–Bacon Act enforcement.
In 1999, Gillibrand began working on Hillary Clinton's 2000 U.S. Senate campaign, focusing on campaigning to young women and encouraging them to join the effort. Many of those women later worked on Gillibrand's campaigns. Gillibrand and Clinton became close during the election, with Clinton becoming something of a mentor to the young attorney. Gillibrand donated more than $12,000 to Clinton's senate campaigns.
In 2001, Gillibrand became a partner in the Manhattan office of Boies, Schiller & Flexner, where a client was the Philip Morris parent company Altria Group. In 2002 she informed Boies of interest in running for office and was allowed to transfer to the firm's Albany office. She left Boies in 2005 to begin her 2006 campaign for Congress.
U.S. House of Representatives
Gillibrand first ran for office in 2006, in New York's 20th congressional district against four-term Republican incumbent John E. Sweeney. She had considered running in 2004, but Hillary Clinton had advised her to wait until 2006, when Clinton believed circumstances would be more favorable. Traditionally conservative, the district and its electoral offices had been in Republican hands for all but four years since 1913. Congressman Sweeney at the time said that no Republican could ever lose [the district]. In November 2006, 197,473 voters in the district were registered Republicans while 82,737 were registered Democrats. Engaging New York's electoral fusion election laws, Gillibrand ran on both the Democratic and Working Families lines; in addition to having the Republican nomination, Sweeney was endorsed by the Conservative and Independence parties.
During the campaign, Gillibrand was a popular candidate among Democratic Party politicians. Mike McNulty, Democratic Congressman from the neighboring 21st congressional district, campaigned for her, as did both Hillary and Bill Clinton; the former president appeared twice at campaign events. Both parties poured millions of dollars into the respective campaigns. Many saw Gillibrand as moderate or conservative. The American Conservative stated after her eventual victory, "Gillibrand won her upstate New York district by running to the right: she campaigned against amnesty for illegal immigrants, promised to restore fiscal responsibility to Washington, and pledged to protect gun rights."
The probable turning point in the election was the November 1 release of a December 2005 police report detailing a 9-1-1 call by Sweeney's wife, in which she claimed Sweeney was "knocking her around the house." The Sweeney campaign claimed the police report was false and promised to have the official report released by State Police, but did not do so. The Sweeney campaign released an ad in which Sweeney's wife described Gillibrand's campaign as "a disgrace."
Following Gillibrand's win, Republicans quickly began speculating about possible 2008 candidates. Len Cutler, director of the Center for the Study of Government and Politics at Siena College, indicated that the seat would be difficult for Gillibrand to hold in 2008, noting Republicans substantially outnumbered Democrats in the district. Gillibrand won her bid for re-election in 2008 over former New York Secretary of State Sandy Treadwell, by a 62% to 38% margin. Treadwell lost by that margin despite significantly outspending Gillibrand and promising never to vote to raise taxes, not to accept a federal salary, and to limit himself to three terms in office. Campaign expenditures were the second highest in the nation for a House race. Democrats generally saw major successes during the 2008 congressional election, credited in part to a coattail effect from Barack Obama's presidential campaign.
Gillibrand's legal representation of Philip Morris was an issue in the 2006 and 2008 campaigns. Her campaign finance records showed that she received $23,200 in contributions from the company employees during her 2006 campaign for Congress. In her 2008 campaign, she accepted $18,200 from company employees, putting her among the top dozen Democrats in such contributions. Questioned during the 2008 campaign about her work on behalf of Philip Morris, Gillibrand stated that she had voted in favor of all three anti-tobacco bills in that session of Congress. She said that she never hid her work for Philip Morris. She added that as an associate at her law firm, she had had no control over which clients she worked for. The New York Times reporting on this issue said that officially, Davis Polk associates are allowed to withdraw from representing clients with whom they have moral qualms.
Upon taking office, Gillibrand joined the Blue Dog Coalition, a group of moderate to conservative Democrats. She was noted for voting against the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, citing concerns about insufficient oversight and excessive earmarks. Gillibrand opposed New York plans to issue driver's licenses to illegal immigrants, and voted in favor of legislation withholding federal funds from immigrant sanctuary cities.
After taking office, Gillibrand became the first member of Congress to publish her official schedule, listing everyone she met with on a given day. She also published earmark requests she received and her personal financial statement. This "Sunlight Report", as her office termed it, was praised by a New York Times editorial in December 2006 as being a "quiet touch of revolution" in a non-transparent system. Regarding the earmarking process, Gillibrand stated she wanted what was best for her district and would require every project to pass a "greatest-need, greatest-good" test.
While in the House of Representatives, Gillibrand served on the following committees:
- Committee on Agriculture
- Committee on Armed Services
On December 1, 2008, President-elect Barack Obama announced his choice of Hillary Rodham Clinton, the junior U.S. Senator from New York, as Secretary of State. This began a two-month search process to fill her vacant Senate seat. Upon a Senate vacancy, under New York law, the Governor appoints a replacement. A special election was held in 2010, for the remainder of the full term, ending in January 2013.
Governor Paterson's selection process began with a number of prominent names and high-ranking New York Democrats, including Andrew Cuomo and Caroline Kennedy, vying for the spot. Gillibrand quietly campaigned to Paterson for the position, meeting secretly with him on at least one occasion; she says she made an effort to underscore her successful House elections in a largely conservative district, adding that she could be a good complement to Chuck Schumer. Gillibrand was presumed a likely choice the days before the official announcement; Paterson held a press conference at noon on January 23 announcing Gillibrand as his choice.
The response within New York to the appointment was mixed. The upstate media was generally optimistic about appointment of an upstate Senator, as one had not been elected after Charles Goodell left office in 1971. Many downstaters were disappointed with the selection, with some media outlets stating that Paterson had ignored the electoral influence of New York City and downstate on state politics (due to the area's population). One questioned whether Paterson's administration was aware of "[where] statewide elections are won and lost". Gillibrand was relatively unknown statewide, with many voters finding the choice surprising. One source states, "With every Democrat in New York...angling for the appointment, there was a sense of bafflement, belittlement, and bruised egos when Paterson tapped the junior legislator unknown outside of Albany."
|Gillibrand–DioGuardi Debate, WABC, October 17, 2010|
|Gillibrand–Long Debate, YNN, October 18, 2012|
Gillibrand as a candidate in the September 14, 2010 Democratic primary election had numerous potential challengers. Some became obvious at the time of her appointment, most notably, Long Island Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy, who was unhappy with Gillibrand's stance on gun control.[Note 2] McCarthy ultimately decided not to run. By March 2009, Harold Ford, Jr., former Congressman from Tennessee, considered a run but ultimately decided against it after pressure from Chuck Schumer and other high-ranking Democrats. Congressman Steve Israel was also a contender but was talked out of it by President Obama.
Concerned about a possible schism in the party that could lead to a heated primary, split electorate, and weakened stance, high-ranking members of the party backed Gillibrand and requested major opponents to decline to run. In the end, Gillibrand faced Gail Goode, a lawyer from New York City, and won the primary with 76% of the vote.
In what was initially expected to be a heated race, Gillibrand easily prevailed against former Republican congressman Joseph DioGuardi. This was Gillibrand's first state-wide election. By the end of October, a Quinnipiac University Polling Institute poll placed Gillibrand over DioGuardi 57-34%. Gillibrand won the November election 63–35%, carrying 54 of New York's 62 counties. The counties that supported DioGuardi did so by a margin no greater than 10%.
Gillibrand's special election victory gave her the right to serve the rest of Clinton's second term, which ended in January 2013. Gillibrand ran for a full six-year term in November 2012. In the general election, Gillibrand faced challenger Wendy E. Long, an attorney running on both the Republican Party and Conservative Party lines. Gillibrand was endorsed by The New York Times and the Democrat and Chronicle. Gillibrand won the seat with 72% of the vote-- the largest victory margin for a statewide candidate in New York history, and ahead of Schumer's 71 percent victory in 2004. She carried all but two mostly rural counties in western New York.
On April 9, 2009, a combined Schumer–Gillibrand press release stated strong support of a Latino being nominated to the Supreme Court at the time of the next vacancy. Their first choice was Sonia Sotomayor. The two introduced her at Sotomayor's Senate confirmation hearing in July.
During the lame duck session of the 111th Congress, Gillibrand scored two substantial legislative victories: the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell and the passage of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act. Both were issues she had advocated for during that session. In the aftermath of these victories, many commentators opined that these victories marked her emergence on the national stage.
In 2013, Gillibrand proposed legislation that would remove sexual assault cases from the military chain of command. It faces competition from a rival bill, sponsored by fellow Democratic Senators Carl Levin and Claire McCaskill, which is intended to resolve the sexual assault problem without altering the military chain of command.
- Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry
- Committee on Armed Services (112th Congress)
- Committee on Environment and Public Works
- Committee on Foreign Relations (111th Congress)
- Subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs
- Subcommittee on International Development and Foreign Assistance, Economic Affairs, and International Environmental Protection
- Subcommittee on International Operations and Organizations, Human Rights, Democracy and Global Women's Issues
- Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere, Peace Corps and Narcotics Affairs
- Special Committee on Aging
- Caucus memberships
- Healthy Kids Caucus
- International Conservation Caucus
- Senate Women's Caucus
- Sportsmen's Caucus
In the House, Gillibrand was known as a conservative liberal or centrist, serving at the will of a conservative electorate. Gillibrand was a member of the Blue Dog Coalition, a caucus of conservative Democrats. At the time of her appointment to the Senate, a Salon editorial said that Gillibrand had developed a reputation in the House as "a hybrid politician who has remained conservative enough to keep her seat while appearing progressive enough to raise money downstate."
In the Senate, Gillibrand is known as a populist-leaning liberal, as she represents a heavily Democratic state. In 2012, the conservative-leaning National Journal ranked Gillibrand and Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon as the two most liberal members of the Senate. Regarding the National Journal ranking, New York Republican Party Chairman Ed Cox commented, "Our junior senator has veered so far off the mainstream path to curry favor with left-wing Washington leaders that the average New Yorker can hardly recognize her anymore. Ms. Gillibrand's candidacy has been a bait and switch: She ran as Calamity Jane but governs like Jane Fonda."
Gillibrand lives in the town of Brunswick with her husband Jonathan and their two sons. She met Jonathan, a venture capitalist and British national, on a blind date. Jonathan was meant to be in the United States for only a year while studying for his Master of Business Administration at Columbia University, but he stayed in the country because of his relationship with Kirsten. The two were married in a Catholic church in Manhattan in 2001. Because of the requirements of Kirsten Gillibrand's office, the family spends most of its time in Washington. In 2011, the Gillibrands sold their house in Hudson and purchased a home in Brunswick to be closer to Kirsten's family in Albany.
The Gillibrands had their first child, Theodore, in 2003, and their second son, Henry, in 2008. Gillibrand is the sixth woman to have a child while serving as a member of Congress. She continued to work until the day of Henry's delivery, for which she received a standing ovation from her colleagues in the House the next day.
In February 2009, shortly after her appointment to the U.S. Senate, Gillibrand revealed that she and her husband kept two rifles under their bed in their upstate New York home for safety purposes. After gun control advocates questioned the wisdom of this practice, a member of Gillibrand's staff announced that the guns had been relocated.
Gillibrand was featured in a 2012 Time magazine's article titled, "2016: Let's Get The Party Started", where she was listed as a possible Democratic candidate for the 2016 Presidential election. The article spoke of her background being raised by two lawyers. It was noted that Kirsten had invited speculation about a possible bid but has also publicly urged Hillary Clinton to run for the office.
- List of United States Senators from New York
- United States congressional delegations from New York
- Women in the United States House of Representatives
- Women in the United States Senate
- For more information on the Corning-Noonan relationship, see: Grondahl, Paul. Mayor Erastus Corning: Albany Icon, Albany Enigma. Albany: State University of New York Press; 2007. ISBN 978-0-7914-7294-1.
- McCarthy has been a supporter of strict gun control since her husband was murdered in a 1993 commuter train shooting spree.
- Conason, Joe (January 23, 2009). "Kirsten Gillibrand. Really?". Salon. Retrieved March 16, 2011.
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- No author given (January 26, 2009). "UCLA law alumna appointed U.S. senator from New York". UCLA Today. University of California, Los Angeles. Retrieved January 29, 2011.
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- "John & Gayle Sweeney Stand Side-By-Side, Firing Back". WTEN. November 2009. Retrieved February 2, 2011.
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- "2008 Election Results". New York State Board of Elections. December 4, 2008. Retrieved January 26, 2011.
- Hornbeck, Leigh (November 5, 2008). "Gillibrand is Repeat Winner". Times Union (Albany: Hearst Newspapers). p. A13. Retrieved February 2, 2011.
- Gillibrand, Treadwell spending millions, The Daily Gazette (Schenectady, NY) October 28, 2006. Quote: "The amount Kirsten Gillibrand and Sandy Treadwell are spending on their campaign for the 20th Congressional District seat so far this year is the second highest in the nation for a House race, according to both the Federal Election Commission and a campaign watchdog Web site."
- No author listed (November 5, 2008). "Democrats Ride Obama's Coat-tails to Victory in Congressional Elections". Daily Mail (London: Associated Newspapers Ltd). Retrieved February 2, 2011.
- Odato, James (October 16, 2008). "Gillibrand's tobacco past includes Philip Morris". Albany Times-Union. Hearst Corporation. Retrieved January 23, 2009.
- Raymond Hernandez and David Kocieniewski, "As New Lawyer, Senator Was Active in Tobacco’s Defense", New York Times, 26 March 2009
- Thompson, Maury (October 3, 2008). "Gillibrand votes no to bailout bill". The Post-Star (Glens Falls, NY). Retrieved March 15, 2013.
- Powell, Michael (February 1, 2009). "Gillibrand Hints at a Change of Mind on Immigration". The New York Times (The New York Times Company). Retrieved February 20, 2011.
- Semple, Kirk (January 27, 2009). "Gillibrand’s Immigration Views Draw Fire". The New York Times (The New York Times Company). Retrieved February 20, 2011.
- No author listed (editorial) (December 14, 2006). "Congress and the Benefits of Sunshine". The New York Times (The New York Times Company). Retrieved February 4, 2011.
- Hernandez, Raymond (May 15, 2007). "Barely in Office, but G.O.P. Rivals Are Circling". The New York Times (The New York Times Company). Retrieved February 4, 2011.
- Hernandez, Raymond (March 21, 2007). "Earmarked for Success?". The New York Times (The New York Times Company). Retrieved February 4, 2011.
- Joint Committee on Printing (August 9, 2007). "Standing Committees of the House" (PDF). Official Congressional Directory (110th Congress). United States Government Printing Office. Retrieved February 20, 2011.
- Hernandez, Javier C.; Danny Hakim and Nicholas Confessore (January 23, 2009). "Paterson Announces Choice of Gillibrand for Senate Seat". The New York Times (The New York Times Company). Retrieved January 26, 2011.
- Seiler, Casey; (with wire reports) (December 2, 2008). "From Foe to Secretary of State". Times Union (Albany: Hearst Newspapers). p. A1. Retrieved January 29, 2011.
- Hornbeck, Leigh (January 23, 2009). "Paterson Poised for Senate Pick". Times Union (Albany: Hearst Newspapers). p. A1. Retrieved January 29, 2011.
- Silverleib, Alan (January 23, 2009). "N.Y. Governor Names Clinton Successor". Cable New Network (CNN). Retrieved January 29, 2011.
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- Editorial (no author attributed) (January 25, 2009). "Week in Review: Some of the Top Stories in the Capital Region". Times Union (Albany: Hearst Newspapers). p. B2. Retrieved January 30, 2011.
- Hakim, Danny (January 22, 2009). "With Kennedy Out, N.R.A. Becomes Issue". The New York Times (The New York Times Company). Retrieved February 7, 2011.
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- Hernandez, Javier C. (September 15, 2010). "In Tight Republican Race, DioGuardi Is Chosen to Face Gillibrand". The New York Times (The New York Times Company). p. A28. Retrieved February 7, 2011.
- "2010 Primary Election Results". New York State Board of Elections. September 14, 2010. Retrieved February 7, 2011.
- "Election 2010 Results: New York". The New York Times (The New York Times Company). Retrieved April 15, 2011.
- "Cuomo Leads By 20 Points In New York Gov Race, Quinnipiac University Poll Finds; Gillibrand Stuns Gop Challenger" (Press release). Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. October 27, 2010.
- Tumulty, Brian (June 27, 2012). "Wendy Long captures Senate Republican primary, will face Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand". The Journal News (White Plains, NY). Retrieved October 15, 2012.
- Lewis, William (June 22, 2012). "Long would champion small gov't is elected to U.S. Senate". Retrieved October 15, 2012.
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- Editorial (October 20, 2012). "Send Kirsten Gillibrand back to the Senate". Democrat and Chronicle (Gannett Company). Retrieved October 21, 2012.
- "New York Overview". CNN.
- "Schumer, Gillibrand Make Direct Appeal to President Obama Recommending He Nominate the First Ever Latino to the Surprime Court Should a Vacancy Occur During His Term" (Press release). Senate Offices of Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand. April 9, 2009. Retrieved February 26, 2011.
- Halbfinger, David M. (July 13, 2009). "Gillibrand Gets the Gavel on Big Stage". The New York Times. Retrieved February 26, 2011.
- Gillibrand Gains Foothold With Victory on 9/11 Aid Bill
- The Education of Kirsten Gillibrand
- Sen. Gillibrand's moment
- Bill Summary & Status 112th Congress (2011–2012), "S.968 Cosponsors", Bill Summary & Status
- Herb, Jeremy. "Paul joins Gillibrand sexual assault bill". The Hill. Retrieved July 16, 2013.
- Palmer, Anna. "Kirsten Gillibrand's slow climb to 51 votes". Politico. Retrieved July 16, 2013.
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- Joint Committee on Printing (December 1, 2009). "Assignments of Senators to Committees" (PDF). Congressional Directory (111th Congress). United States Government Printing Office. Retrieved February 20, 2011.
- "Constituting Majority Party's Membership on Certain Committees for the One Hundred Twelfth Congress" (PDF). Congressional Record (United States Government Printing Office) 157 (16): S556–S557. February 3, 2011. Retrieved February 20, 2011.
- Hakim, Danny; Confessore, Nicholas (January 23, 2000). "Paterson Picks Gillibrand for Senate Seat". The New York Times. Retrieved January 23, 2009.
- "New York Senate - Long vs. Gillibrand". RealClearPolitics. Retrieved November 28, 2012.
- Nat'l journal: Gillibrand = Most liberal senator, New York Daily News, New York, NY: New York Daily News, 23 February 2012, Katz, C., Retrieved 27 December 2013.
- Bryce, Jill (February 11, 2011). "Gillibrand Buys Home Outside Troy". Times Union (Albany: Hearst Newspapers). Retrieved February 11, 2011.
- "Son Born to New York Congresswoman". New York Times (The New York Times Company). Associated Press. May 16, 2008. Retrieved January 28, 2011.
- Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand: I keep 2 guns under my bed, Newsday, New York, NY: Newsday, 15 February 2009, Brune, T., Retrieved 27 December 2013.
- Gillibrand removes guns from under bed, Newsday, New York, NY: Newsday, 16 February 2009, Brune, T., Retrieved 27 December 2013.
- "2016: Let's Get The Party Started", Time, November 19, 2012: 118–131
- Biography at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
- Profile at Project Vote Smart
- Financial information (federal office) at the Federal Election Commission
- Legislation sponsored at The Library of Congress
- Campaign contributions made by Kirsten Gillibrand
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Kirsten Gillibrand|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Kirsten Gillibrand.|
- Senator Kirsten Gillibrand official U.S. Senate site
- Gillibrand for Senate
- Kirsten Gillibrand at DMOZ