Fair Campaign Committee rules 7 times against Astorino campaign UPDATE

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The Westchester County Fair Campaign Practices Committee, a non-partisan group that acts as an arbiter of good sport in the county’s often hard-fought political races, is pointing to the Astorino campaign and crying foul.

(Updated with a quote from the Astorino campaign. See below.)

The committee on Thursday released its rulings on seven complaints filed by Noam Bramson, the mayor of New Rochelle and Democratic challenger for county executive, against Rob Astorino, the incumbent.

In each case, the committee ruled against Astorino. Notably, representatives for the Astorino campaign failed to show up at either of two committee hearings held earlier this week.

Among the offenses:

  • A claim that Bramson did not feel Westchester could or should “do more for returning warriors.” The committee said no evidence was submitted to support the claim.
  • A radio advertisement by the Astorino camp that, according to Bramson’s campaign, digitally altered Bramson’s words; that’s unfair, the committee said.
  • The Astorino camp continued using campaign materials that the committee had already deemed unfair.

The Astorino campaign did not immediately respond to requests for comment regarding the committee’s findings.

In a statement emailed to reporters, Bramson said, “I feel very confident running on the truth, because the facts in this election are on our side. By contrast, it’s clear that Rob Astorino fears the truth, because he both began and ended his campaign with a barrage of lies.”

UPDATE: Bill O’Reilly, spokesman for Friends of County Executive Rob Astorino, provided the Journal News with the following statement: “We stand 100% behind our mailings. That committee is anything but fair; it consists of 11 Democrats and one Republican. Our mail is properly cited, as are all of our television ads. Noam Bramson is howling at his own record.”

Below is the entirety of the committee’s determination, made public Thursday morning.

From the Westchester County Fair Campaign Committee:

FINDINGS IN THE COMPLAINTS OF NOAM BRAMSON AGAINST ROB ASTORINO, CANDIDATES FOR WESTCHESTER COUNTY EXECUTIVE, AND AGAINST FRIENDS OF ROB ASTORINO AND THE NEW YORK REPUBLICAN STATE COMMITTEE

The Westchester County Fair Campaign Practices Committee met on October 30, 2013, to hear the complaints of Noam Bramson (D), candidate for Westchester County Executive, against Rob Astorino (R), candidate for the same office, and against Friends of Rob Astorino and the New York Republican State Committee. The Bramson campaign was represented by Barry Caro. The Astorino campaign representative did not appear at the originally scheduled October 29th hearing and, at their request, the hearing was rescheduled for October 30; the representative for the Astorino campaign did not appear.

COMPLAINT:  Mr. Bramston complained that the Committee had found five separate claims by the Astor no campaign to be false or misleading and that the Astorino campaign generally refused to alter or modify these claims, despite the fact that the Astorino campaign itself has acknowledged that its ads are not accurate.

FINDING: Unfair

The Astor no campaign continued to use campaign materials that were found to be unfair and contrary to the guidelines of the Westchester County Fair Campaign Practices Committee.

 

COMPLAINT: Mr. Bramston complained that a mailer to veterans on behalf of and coordinated with Mr. Astorino’s campaign made a series of false and inaccurate claims about Mr. Bramson’s position on the military and veterans and that Mr. Astorino is responsible for the contents of such a mailer. The mailer claimed that “While attending  Harvard, he [Bramson] arrogantly fought to keep ROTC banned from campus.”

FINDING: Unfair

The accusation that Bramson fought to keep ROTC banned was not supported by the actual quotes in the Harvard Crimson, November 3, 1989.

 

COMPLAINT: Mr. Bramson complained that the same mailer stated: “Resisting all efforts to create a Veterans Center at the Armory” and that no source is given for this false and misleading statement.

FINDING: Unfair

There was no evidence presented to substantiate that Mayor Bramson did not support Veteran activities at the center.

 

COMPLAINT: Mr. Bramson complained that the same mailer falsely and without verification stated: “For years he [Bramson] had disrespected Veterans at public hearings by mocking their testimony.”

FINDING:  Unfair

No evidence was submitted to support this statement.

 

COMPLAINT: The mailer also claims that: “[Rob Astorino] believes as a blessed community we should and could do more for returning warriors. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for his opponent, Noam Bramson.”

FINDING: Unfair

There was no evidence submitted to support this statement.

 

COMPLAINT: Mr. Bramson complained that a radio advertisement repeatedly digitally altered remarks made by Mr. Bramson to make them unintelligible, then claimed they are proof that Mayor Bramson has not answered the hypothetical questions posed.

FINDING: Unfair

A candidate may not alter materials in such a way as to convey a false impression.

 

COMPLAINT: In addition to generally editing mayor Bramson’s statements in a way designed to deceive voters, the Astorino campaign has also edited them in a way designed to suggest that a fictional set of questions had been posed to Mayor Bramson, and that he had not answered them.

FINDING: Unfair

A candidate may not alter materials in such a way as to convey a false impression.

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34 Comments

  1. The Committee is not non partisan. It’s 11 Democrats and one Republican. It has no credibility as currently formed.

  2. A Few Questions for Bill O on

    I see that Bill O, Astorino’s campaign mouthpiece, has nothing to say about all those lies though.
    What about the lies, Bill?
    Why does a sitting incumbent have to base his entire campaign on slander and lies?
    Why spin on about the Committee?
    Why not try to defend the lies?
    Or offer even a small defense of the statements in question?
    If Astorino is such an incredible leader, why not go into the last days of the campaign talking about his accomplishments?
    Why try to smear his opponent instead?
    With nearly a dozen lies–and counting?

  3. Lewisboro is Insulted on

    We will all be voting to make Noam Bramson the Westchester County Executive.

    Astorino and O’Reilly are desperate cretins who dont know how to run an honest campaign. Sending out cartoon fliers to Lewisboro showing a highrise in between homes with the headline “Invading Lewisboro” is such an insult to smart voters.
    And then accusing the League of Women Voters of being biased is such nonsense.

    Smart voters all over Westchester cant wait to send Astorino, O’Reilly, Proud, and the New York State Republican Committee a strong message. We are not stupid.
    Vote Nov 5 for Noam Bramson

  4. Cant Trust Republicans on

    Fact Reminder
    Republicans voted for the GOP ShutDown in Washington that cost the USA economy over $24 billion dollars in lost wages, productivity, commerce, and international trade yet the only thing Republicans know how to do well is to make lies about the other side.
    Astorino is one of those Republicans and does, thinks, and believes like one of those Republicans. He is the Westchester chapter of the right wing obstructionist TP wing of the Republican Party.
    Cant vote for Republicans this time around in Westchester. Clean them out in County Executive and in the local County Legislator races please. We need to move forward and voting for Republicans is backward.
    Vote Democrats

  5. whatever, but I’m still not sure Bramson knows what the job is about.

    For Noam, its abortions & gun restrictions, and for Astoino, its about taxes, family values and smaller county government.

    On a side note, I’m actually one of those who think we could do just without that layer of government like how CT operates, but that’s a whole other topic.

    But back to the race at hand, Astorino done a great job helping to keep people in their homes by not making out property taxes go sky hight. Bramson can’t say the same thing and so I’m voting for Astorino and i know many many others will too. Come join the fun!

  6. Lewisboro is Insulted on

    Bill you lie also. The Board of Legislators had to override the 2011 Westchester Budget veto of Astorino to put in the 2.2% Westchester tax cut. Astorino was a cry baby bystander. The Board under Democrat control.
    We need more Democrats in Westchester and in Congress since Republicans only know how to lie in person on TV and on blogs.

  7. Fair Campaign Committee, LOL. And Hoffman claims he has no biases or Party “affiliations.” Laugh a minute with this cabal.

  8. Astorino has an affinity to hire political people and friends rather than qualified people with good experience and credentials. It’s dishonest and unethical. He responded to the fiscal crisis by appointing a Budget Director with no municipal budgeting credentials and only one year of unrelated municipal experience, and then a Deputy Budget Director, a Yonkers Republican crony, with no credentials and no municipal experience which was noted in an article in Lohud on 1/18/2013. When will Westchester Taxpayers get the qualified experience, credentials and competence that they have paid for to do a professional job of budgetary administration and control especially during these harder economic times?

  9. There have been no real accomplishments during the current Astorino administration. Now they want give an unknown contractor a 10 yr!? contract to run unprofitable Playland and lay off all of the civil service employees after a previously unsuccessful 2 yr attempt to have Marriot Corp. run the Park? Why?? Maybe for contract gratuities in return? The taxpayers will still have to absorb the losses for the next 10 yrs.

  10. The Astorino administration has borrowed millions of dollars to pay for pension costs and then used the borrowings for ongoing operating expenses to help minimize tax increases so that they can say that he hasn’t increased taxes by much now (because the debt will be paid for in future years). It’s like watching a shell game in Tijuana, and yet Westchester still has the highest out of pocket property taxes in the United States.

  11. 11 Democrats and 1 Republican on the panel? That doesn’t sound non-partisan. I’m an Independent and I can’t imagine the Democrats thinking it would be fair to go before a panel of 11 Republicans and 1 Democrat. Give me a break. And Bramson never denied giving himself the 40% pay raise. Nor did he deny raising property taxes 109% did he? I thought he admits it?

  12. Campaign donations for Astorino in the past year total over $3 million according to elections.ny.gov, for a CE job that pays about $160K. The campaign donation list undoubtedly has a great deal of similarity with the list of County contractors and vendors and appointed employees. It seems to suggest that there is a tremendous potential for collaboration between County Government and its contractors, vendors and political clubhouses leaving the Taxpayers interest in last place. It’s time to pay more attention to what goes on in County Government. They use plenty of our hard earned taxpayer dollars to reward their own.

  13. Astorino came into office during the fiscal crisis 4 years ago which (by accident) became a windfall (for him). New York State passed a retirement incentive for all NYS employees and which included Westchester County Employees in the system. It was intended to provide relief to Westchester Taxpayers. When the retirement incentive was approved for County Employees by the Board of Legislators almost 550 employees retired. The cost savings in salaries and benefits could have reduced County taxes by up to 20% however the Astorino administration proceeded to hire hundreds of family, friends and political cronies many of whom have no credentials or experience in public administration, to replace the retired employees. The Board of Legislators went along with it because they too got the benefit-their office is full of political cronies. As a result, the taxpayers have never gotten the tax relief that was intended by the NYS incentive program. This is the kind of dishonest and unethical behavior that goes on in County Government and it is why Westchester County has the highest out of pocket property taxes in the United States.

  14. Cant Trust Repubs on

    There was NO pay raise for Bramson. The Mayor’s salary is $89,000 and that is the salary when New Rochelle elected Noam Bramson for Mayor
    Previously he was a New Rochelle City Councilman. That elected position does not pay $89,000. Only a stupid Republican would believe the garbage lies from people like Proud, OReilly and drones like Kane being spewed on TV since August by the $8 million Astorino clan campaign.

    Astorino did not refuse his $160,000 salary for 2010 2011 2012 or 2012. Astorino is getting $640,000 for 4 years.
    Yet he lies about Bramson’s salary.

    Astorino gave his 2 cronies huge salary increases after a few months in office. One of them got smart and cleared out after 2 plus years of the dirty lies and back room tactics of Astorino and clan.
    Westchester got smart in the last 4 years and will clear out Astorino also. He and his clan are dirty.

  15. Westchester County has the highest out of pocket property taxes in the United States. One reason is because the Astorino administration has turned Westchester into an personal family & friends enterprise by using the savings from the retirements of over 500 civil service employees under a NYS sponsored incentive 3 yrs ago to reward and hire family, friends and campaign donors many of whom bring no professional credentials or experience in public administration. County taxes COULD have been reduced by up to 20% during the immediate fiscal crisis with the NYS incentive because it was intended to give relief to Taxpayers-not for hiring political cronies.

  16. Right. you want lower taxes, elect a Democrat. Haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa! Gimme a break.
    And Bramson turned the library loose to add $400 a year to my taxes in New Rochelle, so that he could say he had nothing to do with it, and then went on to raise taxes anyway again and again. Get a grip.

  17. Westchester County has the highest out of pocket property taxes in the United States. One reason is because the Astorino administration has turned Westchester into an personal family & friends enterprise by using the savings from the retirements of over 500 civil service employees under a NYS sponsored incentive 3 yrs ago to reward and hire family, friends and campaign donors many of whom bring no professional credentials or experience in public administration. County taxes COULD have been reduced by up to 20% during the immediate fiscal crisis with the NYS incentive because it was intended to give relief to Taxpayers-not for hiring political cronies.

  18. @Cant Trust Repubs, Unfortunately for you there is google. From the Jan. 2, 2007, Journal News: “Noam Bramson and the six-member City Council voted themselves a substantial salary increase (40 percent for the mayor alone), which seemed a tad greedy, if not self-righteous, since they’re supposed to be part time.” Bramson was appointed mayor in 2006, and a few months later he voted himself the pay raise. Good try though.

  19. Astorino people are trying to make an issue about thousands when the group has squandered millions. Astorino gets almost double the salary of the New Rochelle Mayor for his little accomplishment while he hires his own cronies with no credentials or experience at more than the $89,000 that the New Rochelle mayor gets.

  20. Saturday Night at the Apollo on

    It’s going to be Saturday Night Live at the Apollo on Tuesday night when the clown comes out on the stage with the hook to take Rob Astorino off because his performance hasn’t been good and then hundreds of little cronies will follow, including the ones who leave work during the day on County time to work the phones at headquarters. If they are not replaced then taxpayers can receive a decent tax reduction for a change.

  21. north of the hutch on

    wow you really think Noamanomics, where you have no economic plans (other than to hire friends) while you promise the world to any/everyone will actually reduce taxes?

    It hasn’t worked in New Rochelle so why would it work for the county? And where is next year’s New Rochelle budget? Probably coming next Weds, Noam likes to release the bad news the day after the election.

    And what about the tax cap? Will New Rochelle stay under the tax cap this year? I highly doubt it, as the last few budgets have been plugged with one shot gimmicks that always leave New Rochelle on shaky ground the following year. Bramson wants those Utility & Red Light camera taxes so he doesn’t have to make any meaningful reduction to expenses.

    Didn’t Bramson get the memo that we’re in a big downturn and people aren’t getting raises (if they’re still working)? You sure wouldn’t know it from the way he runs New Rochelle and no family would ever handle their finances like New Rochelle does.

  22. It’s time for Astorino’s little political cronies to update their resume’s. Lohud and the voters are hip to at least some of the monkey business that’s been going on in County Government which keeps Westchester in the lead as the nation’s number one municipality with the highest out of pocket property taxes in the whole United States. Hopefully his successor will pass the vacancies savings along to the Taxpayers rather than refill the County Office Building with cronies again.

  23. Olga, the only monkey business, as you say, comes from Noam Bramson. Did you know he altered his Wikipedia entry to make himself look better? Anohter pathetic move by a desperate candidate who doesn’t know that the job he running for is about.

    Its Bramson that can’t balance a budget. Astorino’s proposed 4 balanced budgets with no tax increases, but Noam? Don’t think he can say the same.

    I know you don’t want to discuss New Rochelle’s financial situation but please enlighten me as to why? Is it because its so bad and Noam’s been the one in charge? If I were Noam, I wouldn’t want to talk about it either.

  24. Guess what i ninety five?
    Astorino has balanced the budget by using the savings of salaries and benefits of over 500 retirees from a NYS incentive program during the fiscal crisis and then and borrowing millions of dollars for operating expenses to help minimize tax increases, passing the debt to future generations. That’s how he balances budgets. Who’s kidding who? It’s like watching a shell game and yet Westchester still has the highest out of pocket property taxes in the United States.

  25. More Noamanomics? Nice try but I’m not buying it but the county certainly had a bloated payroll by the end of the Spano years.

    Remember the guy who got thrown out of office because helped make Westchester County one of the highest taxed counties in the nation? We don’t want to return to that but that’s what Bramson will do.

    Just say no to Noam, his big government ideas and the taxes he’ll want you to pay. Besides have you seen Bramson’s TV ads? He doesn’t seem to know what the county executive does and he appears to be running for Congress.

    Why vote for that when Astorino’s completely competent and has proved that over the last 4 years?

  26. Astorino has no record of accomplishment during his term. All he can do is pretend that he didn’t increase taxes by using shell game tactics of using savings from retirees salaries and benefits and borrowing to pay for operating expenses, passing the cost onto the future, while he loaded the County Office Building with cronies. Nothing else has been accomplished.

  27. whewhee! Looks like Astorino has got some real trouble now right before the election!
    The Feds are coming! bye Boys!

  28. Eligibility to become a county civil service employee: Take the civil service test, get onto the first three ranks, then do really good on the job interview.

    eligibility to become a county employee under Astorino: None, but must be his republican crony….

    Astorino’s Main accomplishment: being a layoff king (sorry he hired his cronies – “promise made, promise kept” – yep, he created jobs !)

    About 2% county tax cut per Astorino. I live in Greenburgh. My “COUNTY” portion of taxes were as follows for the last four years: +4.5%, -1.2%, +2.17%, and +2.54% respectively. No kidding! Log onto Greenburgh GIS, if you don’t believe me. A net increase of 8.01% for the last four years. So People PLEASE look into your tax bill before trusting Astorino campaign on tax cuts.

  29. No more aging left wing, big spending, tax-happy hippies! Vote Astorino, and against anyone who has a D in front of his/her name.

  30. Thanks for your incisive comment Stanley. Glad you’re up to date on things. You think that we should vote for a guy who allegedly engaged in election racketeering, commiserating with strip club owners and who was out having lap dances for himself at a strip club instead of being home with his wife and kids? He hasn’t answered the charges or given any explanation? He also has no record of accomplishment and he used shell game tactics to give the appearance that he moderated tax increases. Your comment is characteristic of the way too many people think when they just take election propaganda at face value rather than do their own research homework.

  31. Hello Westchester County CSEA and Other Union Members

    We would appreciate it if you would add to these Blogs. You don’t have to use your real name or email. You can use any name and any email.

    Let the taxpayers of Westchester what has really been going on during the Astorino Administration!