A tip that there may be some reason Latimer should not have been driving the day of the crash led me to contact the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles on October 17th which led to an exchange of emails with a DMV Spokesperson Tim O’Brien:
I wrote a story about an MVA on 7/21/17 involving this person:
George S. Latimer
47 Wainwright Street
Rye, NY 10580
I have since been told there is some question as to whether they should have been driving at all but with no further explanation.
Can you confirm this person has a valid driver’s license and did so on 7/21/17? Also whether there are any restrictions on their license or any other explanation why one of my readers would call to say I might be “surprised” to learn this person was driving a vehicle on 7/21/17?
On October 18th, O’Brien replied:
Hello Mr. Cox: In response to your inquiry, Mr. Latimer has a full and valid driver license and did so on July 21, 2017.
I replied immediately:
Thanks. I guess there was nothing to it.
That same day, Latimer inexplicably cooperated in the production of an article which brought the issue of his own marital infidelity into the campaign.
Not since Presidential frontrunner Gary Hart challenged reporters to follow him around to prove he was faithful to his wife (they did, he wasn’t), has a politician made such a bonehead move as George Latimer did by introducing the issue of his widely known history of philandering into the County Executive race with three weeks to go.
Latimer’s relationship with Judge Susan Kettner of the City Court of New Rochelle was and is widely known, especially among the political and media elite of Westchester County. Many were Facebook Friends where she would make coy (and not so coy) references to Latimer and their adventures together. The Internet has many images of the happy couple together at various events in New Rochelle. Most people I know say they believed he was separated or divorced from his wife. Not according to Latimer, who claimed to Jon Craig he was happily married to his wife, Robin.
Latimer put forward his lie (that he was faithful to his wife) in the context of twin lies (that his opponent was circulating phony rumors about his infidelity and he was being faithful to his wife). No one was circulating anything about Latimer and his girlfriend and they were not “rumors” but widely known facts. And he has been unfaithful to his wife going back decades, even before Kettner.
The only person that I know who raised this issue at all is me and I did it directly to Latimer 48 hours earlier by saying I was not going to raise his relationship with Kettner in the car crash story (and I did not).
Latimer seems to have thought he was being clever by attempting to inoculate himself against a story he imagined I might publish by telling his tall tale to a friendly reporter.
So, how did that work out? Not so well.
Meanwhile I continued to ask questions of the DMV.
On October 20th, I asked “Does that same person have a vehicle registered to then with special license plates and if so what is the vehicle and what are the plates.”
On October 23rd, I wrote O’Brien again:
Recall I was told George Latimer was supposedly not allowed to drive. Now I am told the issue was not his driver’s license but his vehicle registration.
So, can you provide me the status of any vehicle registrations in the name of George Latimer.
Also, is there any reason the registration information would result in him not being allowed to drive? Or drive a particular vehicle? Or any vehicle?
If he is not an insured motorist but has a valid driver’s license (per your previous email) is there a scenario under which he would not be allowed to drive?
I realize I sound confused. It is because I am. Any clarification you can provide would be greatly appreciated!
While continuing to chase down the car story, I responded to the Daily Voice article with my own, blowing open the Latimer-Kettner relationship along with some strikingly bizarre and duplicitous reporting by Jon Craig.
On October 24th, the DMV gave me the first hint of why Latimer had been so angry about my car crash story:
The driver license is valid. His vehicle registration was suspended by the Yonkers Parking Violations Bureau.
Unfamiliar with the process, I had a lot of questions for O’Brien;
Ok. Can I get details on that please? I gather he had unpaid tickets? How does that work, Yonkers notifies DMV? Can I get a copy of what you got from them? I will go to them too but I figure they tell DMV details like amounts, dates, etc. Also, what is effective date of suspension and when did it end or did it?
We receive an electronic transaction from the jurisdiction requesting that the registration be suspended. We do not have any details of the tickets. The suspension remains in place until we are notified by the jurisdiction that the tickets have been resolved.
I still had more questions:
Ok. I will contact Yonkers but...You do have the date the suspension became effective and, if resolved, the date the suspension was lift or that the suspension remains in effect. Can I get that info please?
Having teed up the Latimer-Kettner relationship on October 23rd, I dropped what is without question the biggest bombshell of the campaign:
Carl Campanile of the New York Post called me later that day. He confirmed my reporting and added his own.
The story spread like wildfire throughout the State of New York.
Later that night was The Journal News - FiOS1News debate at Iona College, a block from my house.
After the showdown between George Latimer and Rob Astorino, there were press conferences with each candidate. I cannot say Latimer was happy to see me.
I asked Latimer where he was this past April 9th when the Senate voted on the 2018 New York State budget and why he was "excused" from the Senate that day.
“On April 9th a budget vote in the Senate took place, the records show you did not vote, you are listed as “excused”. So, where were you when the Senate voted on April 9th on the budget and why were you excused?”
Latimer bobbed and weaved.
"I was excused as one of five members who indicated to leadership that I would be unable to be in Albany after April 7th. The due date of the budget is March 31st. I was there midnight, overnight, the 31st, I was there the first. They said we would go back to our districts, we went back to our districts, we were called back, we were released on Wednesday of that week whatever date that was (April 5th). When we were released we were told at the time we probably wouldn’t finalize the budget until the end of the month. I read a blog post that said “Oh my God, they’re going to renegotiate after all”. I called leadership and said you told me that uh I told you I would not exactly be available for that vote on that date and they said “you’re excused”. Five members in total were excused. All of this highlighted this well in advance.
I followed up, “And where were you?”
“That’s not your business,” he snapped. “That’s personal business.”
Matt Richter, another reporter, followed up again, generating more bobbing and weaving by Latimer:
“Let’s be honest. The budget vote is broken down into 12 votes (11 actually). I was there for 8 of those budget votes. The dysfunction of the legislature as to when they were going to organize themselves to having this voting thing came up 24 hours before the vote. I was very clear to leadership as was other members that they had other commitments and — those commitments were locked in and those commitments were personal commitments, personal decisions. Now as far as the decision to be there for the vote uh it was impossible for me to get back from where I was back to Albany in time to vote. And I talked about “is this going to be a close one”. The votes were overwhelming to pass the budget on those lines...And the things were most important...And by the way budget....We had voted to close off 8 sections of the budget these were just the last 3 sections of the budget. In case you don’t know, I’m not saying you should know, the State Budget is not a singular vote...It was not a singular vote that Palm Sunday because that is when the meeting was held organized 30 hours, 30 hours, 24 hours, before it, and it was organized and set for Palm Sunday and you can have a discussion whether that’s the right thing to do or not. There was almost no notice to any of us as legislators so the votes were certainly lined up for it. I checked to see if this was going to a uh uh one of these votes where every vote might be the difference of it and when I spoke to leadership they indicated other people were in the same situation as I was in and look I take my public my public vote seriously.”
Latimer then spent about two minutes talking about the time he walked out on a vote on the Tier 6 pension plan (in 2012) and did not return to the subject of his failure on three budget votes on April 9th.
Some present at the presser snickered at the idea of Latimer sanctimoniously casting aspersions on the Leadership of the Senate for holding budget votes on Palm Sunday when his reason for not being there on Palm Sunday was that he was in London with his girlfriend, cheating on his wife, while his wife presumably attended mass alone back in Rye.
On October 25th, O'Brien came back with details on the suspension of the registration for Latimer’s Jeep. I had my next story and it was a big one.