Oppenheimer Smear Campaign Backfires as Independent Panel Rules Tactics 'Unfair'

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Oppenheimer Smear Campaign Backfires as Independent Panel Rules Tactics 'Unfair'

October 15, 2010 - 19:05

Westchester County Fair Campaign Practices Committee Finds Oppenheimer Attacks are Intentionally Misleading and Factually Inaccurate

WHITE PLAINS – State Senate candidate Bob Cohen’s campaign today demanded that Senator Oppenheimer stop her campaign of negative, unfounded personal attacks after the bogus claims she makes in her first television advertisement were debunked by an independent review panel. Following a hearing yesterday evening, the Westchester County Fair Campaign Practices Committee ruled the advertisement an ‘unfair campaign practice.’ The ruling is below.

“The Committee basically confirmed what we’ve been saying all along – that the whole focus of Senator Oppenheimer’s campaign thus far has been based on a pack of lies,” said spokesman Josh Hills. “Her advertisements are fiction; complete with imaginary tenants and a fabricated a government agency. They even used a building that is not owned by Bob Cohen as a backdrop. Her whole campaign is based on untruths.

“Now that Senator Oppenheimer’s campaign has been exposed as a fraud, it is time to get this race focused where it belongs – on the issues,” said Hills. “No more lies and no more red-herrings. It is time to give Westchester residents what they deserve: a real debate on problems and solutions. Hopefully, Senator Oppenheimer will now make an effort to refocus her campaign on the issues that matter most to Westchester residents – property taxes, education, and jobs – in spite of her abysmal record on all of them.”

14 North Chatsworth Avenue #3E, Larchmont, NY 10538
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Oct. 15, 2010 Contact: Evelyn M. Stock, Chair
Findings in the Complaints of Bob Cohen vs. Suzi Oppenheimer

The Westchester County Fair Campaign Practices Committee met on October 14, 2010 to hear the complaints of challenger Bob Cohen, Republican, against incumbent Suzi Oppenheimer, Democrat, candidates for state senator in the 37th District.

Mr. Cohen was represented by John Rogers, his campaign manager; Sen. Oppenheimer was represented by her attorney, John J. Allen.

Mr. Cohen complained a television commercial for Sen. Oppenheimer portrayed him as a slumlord in New York City and was “intentionally misleading and factually inaccurate.” It charged he violated safety regulations and left children sick with lead poisoning.

Unfair Campaign Practice

The Committee agreed with Mr. Cohen that scenes and events were fabricated, and it dismissed the Oppenheimer side’s contention that it was fair political discourse. A mother and child who appear in the commercial with facial expressions to convey a negative message about Mr. Cohen’s building were not his tenants and a sign was altered to imply that one of his buildings was condemned or closed for safety reasons by a “Department of Health and Safety” when no such agency existed. Also, as a picture is shown of a boy standing in front of an unfinished wall, a voice states: “…and left children sick with lead poisoning.” The wall is not on Mr. Cohen’s property and the boy is not one of his residents.

The Fair Campaign Committee’s Guidance to Candidates states that candidates should not use campaign advertisements that depict fictional or hypothetical events.

Mr. Cohen called “hypothetical and fictional” Sen. Oppenheimer’s statement: “If these buildings could talk…would tell of broken promises.”

No Finding
Not enough information was available for the committee to make a finding.