"Dinner for Two" Heats Up State Senate Campaign

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"Dinner for Two" Heats Up State Senate Campaign

April 25, 2012 - 22:14

37thStateSenateIt's not even May but already Republican State Senate candidate Diane DiDonato Roth is attacking Republican State Senate candidate Bob Cohen for attacking Democrat State Senate candidate George Latimer over his personal relationship with New Rochelle City Judge Susan Kettner while Republican State Senate candidate Bob Cohen is ignoring Republican State Senate candidate Diane DiDonato Roth attacking him while renewing his attacks on Democrat State Senate candidate George Latimer for failing to explain $17,000 in credit card receipts paid by Latimer's Campaign Committee as Democrat State Senate candidate George Latimer says little and New Rochelle City Judge Susan Kettner says less.

This is going to be interesting.

Last week, Cohen went after Latimer over unitemized credit card bills paid with campaign cash, dropping the now infamous "dinner for two" line into the press release, widely seen as a jab at the married Latimer over his close personal relationship with Kettner. Cohen never explicitly raised the issue but now Diane DiDonato Roth, his Republican challenger, is making an explicit statement and demanding that Cohen retract what she has labeled a "smear" against Latimer.

In a press release issued yesterday, DiDonato Roth condemned Cohen for making a specific, direct allegation of marital infidelity by Latimer despite Cohen not having made such an allegation. In the process, DiDonato Roth did manage to repeated the words "Latimer Infidelity" twice in her press release while criticizing Cohen for doing so.

In an interview the next day, DiDonato Roth campaign spokesperson Johnny Russo told Talk of the Sound that the campaign was unaware of the Latimer-Kettner relationship and only learned of it by reading Talk of the Sound.

Russo would not explain what DiDonato Roth meant by saying that Cohen was "playing fast and loose with the facts". He was asked whether she meant that it was not true that Latimer was unfaithful to his wife or that it is true but is not a legitimate campaign issue or that true or not it was not a legitimate campaign issue.

Latimer has previously told Talk of the Sound he will respond only to specific criticism by Cohen.

"If he has a specific attack to make, I'll respond. But so far, he has made the effort to attack me continually, and I will not indulge his campaign daily in that direction," said Latimer.

Cohen campaign spokesperson Mr. Bill O'Reilly picked on the same phrase and tossed it Latimer's way.

"Albany politicians have been playing fast and loose with the rules for too long and the result is a government no one trusts anymore," said O'Reilly. "All we are asking -- demanding -- is that Mr. Latimer comply with the law. Is that too much to ask?"

Asked whether the $17,000 in unspecified credit card payments was a legitimate issue, Russo of the DiDonato Roth campaign agreed it was and that the campaign would raise that issue in a race against Latimer. He declined to say whether the Latimer-Kettner relationship was a legitimate issue if Latimer was using campaign donations to pay for their dinners.

For their part, Cohen's camp issued a statement today again calling on Latimer to account for the $17,000 in expenses expanding on the "dinner for two" line by calling on Latimer to say who he dined with using campaign cash, asking "was it with lobbyists?, union bosses?, other elected officials?"

DiDonato Roth labeled Cohen “lower than low” for leveling "a smear" against Latimer and called on Cohen to apologize. She also accused Talk of the Sound of reprinting the "smear".

A smear is generally understood to be a false statement implying that DiDonato Roth knows for certain that Latimer is not being unfaithful while her campaign admitted they were not even aware until the Talk of the Sound story of the close personal relationship between Latimer and Kettner, a relationship that is widely known in New Rochelle.

Some New Rochelle political observers tell Talk of the Sound, going after Latimer may be a bit of Republican payback after Mayor Noam Bramson, a Democrat, attacked Republican Mayoral candidate Richard St. Paul last year over a family court case involving St. Paul and the mother of his child in New Jersey. St. Paul, who has never been married, was found to owe child-support in the case and was in the process of an appeal. Bramson's opposition research staff provided the information to the Journal News which repeatedly questions St. Paul about the court case and published information about the case.

Bramson was also caught using anonymous mailers to spread false statements about St. Paul during the campaign. The Westchester County Fair Campaign Practices Committee later determined that Bramson committed an unfair campaign practice.

There are 7 Comments

It seems paradoxical for Ms Roth to jump into the mud as she admonishes others for slinging the same. If she was different or wants to stand apart from the others involved, you would think joining the fray would be the last thing on her mind. She is now ascribing to the very same behavior she so vehemently rejects. Politics being what it is, I guess she has to "smear" Cohen before she can begin to smear Lattimer. If you read the story content, it is Ms Roth who is reinforcing the accusation of infidelity by bringing attention to it and ultimately obfuscating the question of transparency in finance. Her radio interview was more about attacking Cohen than honestly challenging issues that would distinguish her from her Democratic opponent. Maybe there's not enough distinction to attract any attention. I guess "lowest" is actually what comes after "lower than low".

Now, can we get back to the issues?

This is a bizarre article. I don't like to see this negative personal stuff and agree with John to stick to issues.

But, I do think: 1) Latimer needs to explain these credit card expenditures since it is the law (and don't care about his private life), 2) Cohen should not have done the "dinner for two" stuff, and 3) it really was Roth that makes the allegation of the affair and she should admonish herself!

DiDonato has no clue as to what is. There is no question that Latimer and Kettner have a thing going. They have been repeatedly seen around New Rochelle for years dining and dancing together. Latimer for Assembly contributed $2,000 to Kettner's judge campaign. While this is a personal matter the accounting of the $17,000 dinner for two expense is fair game and the fact that Latimer refuses to answer this question implies it was Kettner who he dined with.

DiDonato attempted to interject herself with an uninformed press release that was nothing more then a political stunt attempting to garner attention to her failing campaign. I will not vote for Latimer who refuses to reveal how campaign funds were spent and there is no way I can consider DiDonato because she interjected herself in an issue without first hand knowledge or fact.

I had the pleasure of voting in the Republican Primary on Tuesday. You could not find 2 republicans in the School at the same time.
By 6:00pm I voted and they had less than 10 voters all day from my district. Although I will vote for Cohen I have to assume that Latimer could be having lunch with Eva Braun in Argentina and still get elected in Westchester County.
Whats the point. Only very small area's contain enough pockets to overcome the Blueness.
Cohen Save your energy.

Forechecker, no no no, that's not correct & you're mistaken by the turn-out Tuesday, I myself didn't vote, was there a reason too? I assumed Mitt would win and he did.

As for Bob Cohen, he stands an excellent chance of winning and the district's been geared for that. In fact the 37th SD isn't much of a blue "pocket" anymore and now encompasses Bronxville, Eastchester & parts of ne Yonkers. All very Republican areas and don't forget Joe Carvin (also a Republican) has been running Rye very efficiently for the last few years. Carvin's so popular in Rye he was even going to run for the US Senate.

I had the great pleasure of talking w/Bob for 5-10 minutes last night. And let me say, what an impressive guy he is. Very very sharp and he seems smart as a whip. As for energy, he's got tons and don't expect him to stop knocking on doors or engaging anyone anytime soon.

You might as well plan now for Latimer's retirement party as his last days of supporting tax increases will soon be upon us. Latimer can run, but he can't hide from his voting record.

And don't forget, Bob only lost to Suzi Oppenheimer by a few hundred votes in 2010 and that was with Carl Paladino at the top of the ticket. Now fast forward to 2012 and he's running with a very strong Republican Presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, at the top of the ticket and things will be different.

Keep the faith!

Democrats are like roaches up here...
We can't find enough Republicans to play a checker game.
Clearly I knew the Primary was a done deal but I was hoping for a sign that the world was going to get better this coming November.
Every day I wake up I wonder how did this happen?

To Political Forecaster:

Trust me, I have same concern about way too many Dems in NR and all of Westchester. It stinks that all these liberals screwed up NYC and now they moved to Westchester to screw that up too.

But, I am happy that NR has 4 elected Reps, which is pretty impressive since I understand that about 70% of voters in NR are Dems.