An excerpt from a 2010 Journal News article is used in a new, pro-George Latimer mailer funded by Senate Democrats that is now heading to Westchester County homes. The quote points out that the Rye Assemblyman “favors a tax cap and relief from state mandates.”
It doesn’t mention, however, a seemingly pertinent piece of information: Latimer voted against the state’s 2 percent property-tax cap in 2011.
Latimer, a Democratic Assemblyman now running for state Senate, opposed the bill that created the now-implemented tax cap, explaining at the time (and ever since) that he didn’t believe enough was done concurrently to free local government’s from state-mandated costs, such as Medicaid payments.
The campaign of Latimer’s Republican opponent, New Rochelle developer Bob Cohen, pounced on the mailer.
“I have never seen such a blatantly dishonest mailer in my career,” Cohen spokesman Bill O’Reilly said in a statement.
Senate Democrats, however, defended the mailer and said the use of The Journal News excerpt was not misleading, noting that Latimer has consistently spoken out on the need to pair the property-tax limit with meaningful relief for local governments.
Latimer released a web video on his position on the tax cap last week, in which he quotes Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino (ironically, also a client of O’Reilly) as saying “a property-tax cap without mandate relief is like running up a credit card debt on a fixed income.” (You can watch that video here.)
“Cohen and his extremist allies can try to lie and distort the facts but the truth is only George Latimer has provided tax relief to the people of Westchester,” Senate Democratic spokesman Mike Murphy said in a statement.
The original article — from the Oct. 14, 2010 edition of The Journal News, when Latimer was running for re-election in the Assembly — notes that Latimer said he “favored sweeping changes in the way education and health care are funded by shifting away from property taxes,” but supports “tax cap and relief from state mandates” in the shorter term.
Latimer, meanwhile, has found himself on the receiving end of about a dozen direct-mail campaigns within his district, leading him to release a letter last week saying they “ruthlessly” misrepresent his record and accusing Cohen of spreading “negative lies.”
You can find the original Latimer mailer here, and read the full statements from Senate Democrats and the Cohen camp after the jump.
Senate Democrats spokesman Mike Murphy:
“The fact of the matter is George is the only candidate in this race that has actually cut taxes for Westchester. As Chair of the County Legislature he lowered taxes by 8% including overseeing the largest property tax cut in County history. He currently has legislation to permanently repeal the MTA Payroll tax, cut over burdensome local mandates and has legislation to continue to lower taxes on the people of Westchester. Cohen and his extremist allies can try to lie and distort the facts but the truth is only George Latimer has provided tax relief to the people of Westchester.”
Cohen spokesman Bill O’Reilly:
“I have never seen such a blatantly dishonest mailer in my career.
Mr. Latimer actually doctors a Journal News quote to suggest that he supported Governor Cuomo’s property tax cap and mandate relief efforts — when he voted against that tax cap and took a walk on Governor Cuomo’s Tier 6 mandate relief bill.
“That’s not even the half it it: Mr. Latimer raised property taxes 46% as a county legislator — more than anyone else running for office in Westchester — yet he incredulously claims in his mail piece that no one has fought to lower taxes more than he. He then suggests he is a leader in the fight against the MTA Payroll Tax — a tax he helped create!
“George Latimer has more than jumped the shark here; he has insulted the integrity of the voters and the democratic process itself. He mailed a piece of literature rife with untruths.”