Kirsten Gillibrand's Opponent Criticizes Her Plans To Attend Forum With Van Jones

Apr 17, 2010 | Updated May 25, 2011

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) is drawing political fire for her plan to attend a panel discussion with former Obama administration official Van Jones next month.

Bruce Blakeman, currently Gillibrand's lone GOP opponent for re-election in 2010, has used the Senator's decision to appear at the same event as the former White House staffer as proof that she is "pandering to the left-wing fringe of her party," he told Fox News.

"She shouldn't be meeting with him. She shouldn't be sharing the same platform with him. And I think it just proves she's out of touch with most New Yorkers," Blakeman continued.

Jones left his administration position as special adviser on green jobs in September after it was uncovered that he signed a petition showing support for "9/11 truther" fringe conspiracies, which maintain that the Bush Administration had an inside roll in the 9/11 attacks. The petition called for an investigation to examine evidence that "people within the current administration may indeed have deliberately allowed 9/11 to happen, perhaps as a pretext for war."

Gillibrand spokesman Glen Caplin defended the senator's decision to appear with Jones.

"The discussion is about job creation -- Senator Gillibrand's number one priority. Van Jones is a national expert on creating good-paying jobs in emerging renewable energy markets," Caplin said in a statement.