The Westchester County Fair Campaign Practices Committee met on July 11, 2017 to hear the complaints of Virginia Perez, candidate for Westchester County Legislator, District 17, against London Reyes, candidate for the same position.
Virginia Perez appeared and was represented by James Castro-Blanco. London Reyes did not appear.
COMPLAINT: Virginia Perez complained and submitted corroborating information showing that Mr. Reyes’ campaign literature creates the false impression that he is an incumbent for this position, when in fact Ms. Perez is the incumbent and he is not.
FINDING: Unfair. A candidate should not create the false impression that he is an incumbent.
COMPLAINT: Virginia Perez complained and submitted corroborating information that London Reyes is misleading voters by posting photographs of himself with prominent personages (including George Latimer) implying that they endorse him.
FINDING: Unfair. A candidate should not use photos taken with elected officials (or prominent personages) in campaign literature implying that they endorse him.
COMPLAINT: Virginia Perez complained that London Reyes accuses her of “conferencing and voting with the Republicans” on the County Board of Legislators.
FINDING: Unfair. It is a matter of public record that the Democrats “conference” or “caucus” with members of their own party, as do the Republicans. A voting record is different and Mr. Reyes has not provided evidence to verify this claim.
The Fair Campaign Practices Committee has taken note of candidates’ increased use of social media, which often includes references or links to third party commentary that may contain inaccurate or otherwise objectionable content. Candidates bear responsibility for materials appearing on their political websites and other related media. Accordingly, the Committee strongly advises that its first recommendation on Guidance to Candidates be adhered to:
A CANDIDATE SHOULD NEITHER ENGAGE IN NOR BE INVOLVED WITH FALSE AND MISLEADING ATTACKS ON THE CHARACTER OF AN OPPONENT NOR IN INVASIONS OF PRIVACY UNRELATED TO FITNESS FOR OFFICE.
Members: Susan P. Guma, [Chair], Miriam Cohen [Coordinator], Paul C. Atkinson, Nick Beilenson, Elizabeth Bermel, Gisele Castro, Daniel S. Franklin, Jr., Victor J. Goldberg, Joan Grangenois-Thomas, LaRuth Gray, Lee Kinnally, Robert C. Kirkwood, Polly Kuhn, Carole Princer Levy, Philip M. Maley, Harry Phillips III, Joy Rosenzweig, Susan Schwarz, Evelyn M. Stock, William Walker
Party representatives (ex officio): Republican Party, Democratic Party, Conservative Party, Working Families Party, Independence Party, Green Party, Reform Party
The purpose of the Westchester Fair Campaign Committee is to promote a climate in which candidates conduct honest and fair campaigns. The Committee encourages candidates to conduct campaigns openly and fairly, to discuss issues, to refrain from dishonest and defamatory attacks, and not to use campaign materials that distort the facts.
The Committee does not sit as a censor of political discussion nor as a body to enforce election law or make legal decisions. Its task is to accept written complaints about alleged unfair campaign practices and to determine whether the action complained about is indeed unfair. Among other things, the Committee will consider to be unfair any campaign practice that is a misstatement of a material fact or that misleads the public.
The Committee has no power to compel anyone to stop doing what it has found to be unfair. If the Committee acts on a complaint, it will release its findings to inform the public. The Committee may choose not to consider a complaint; in that case, a hearing is not held and the parties to the complaint are notified.
Statement of Principles of the Committee, as stated in its Manual, is available at www.faircampaignpractices.org. The Westchester County Fair Campaign Practices Committee believes that candidates should conduct their campaigns in accordance with the following principles:
- The candidate will conduct a campaign for public office openly and fairly. The candidate will discuss the issues and participate in fair debate with respect to her/his views and qualifications.
- The candidate will neither engage in nor be involved with unfair or misleading attacks upon the character of an opponent, nor will the candidate engage in invasions of personal privacy unrelated to fitness for office.
- The candidate will not participate in or condone an appeal to prejudice.
- The candidate will neither use nor be involved with the use of any campaign material or advertisements that misrepresent or distorts the facts.
- The candidate will clearly identify by name the source of all advertisements and campaign literature published and distributed.
- The candidate will not abuse the Westchester County Fair Campaign Practices Committee process in order to obtain political advantage.
- The candidate will publicly repudiate materials or actions from any individual or group that would violate the Statement of Principles.