The Westchester County Fair Campaign Practices Committee met on March 12, 2018 to hear the complaints of Sarah DeRise, candidate for Tuckahoe Village Trustee, against Antonio Leo and Daniel Lang, also candidates for Tuckahoe Village Trustee. Ms. DeRise was represented by herself and Omayra Andino. Mr. Leo and Mr. Lang did not attend.
Ms. DeRise complains that Mr. Leo and Mr. Lang engaged in an unfair campaign practice by including the following statement in a letter distributed to registered voters: “Sarah’s reckless and irresponsible actions have already cost taxpayers $247,000 as a plaintiff bringing suit against the Village and State to stop a development in the Village by alleging false claims of negligence and lack of oversight.”
The statement is false, because Ms. DeRise was never a plaintiff in the Article 78 filing.
Ms. DeRise complains that a letter to registered voters from Mr. Leo and Mr. Lang indicates that her running mate, Omayra Andino, recently moved to the village from the City of Peekskill, whereas Ms. Andino has been a Tuckahoe resident for almost seven years.
The statement was misleading, because Ms. Andino has been a Tuckahoe resident for almost seven years, which the Committee does not believe fits within the definition of “recent.”
Ms. DeRise complains that her opponents Mr. Leo and Mr. Lang gave the false and misleading impression on their campaign material that Mr. Lang is an incumbent.
The language on the sign falls within the Committee’s guidelines.
Committee Members: Susan P. Guma, [Chair], Jennifer Mebes Flagg [Coordinator], Nick Beilenson, Elizabeth Bermel, Gisele Castro, Miriam Cohen, Daniel S. Franklin, Jr., Victor J. Goldberg, LaRuth Gray, Joan Grangenois-Thomas, Lee Kinnally, Robert C. Kirkwood, Polly Kuhn, Carole Princer Levy, Harry Phillips III, Joy Rosenzweig, Susan Schwarz, Evelyn M. Stock, William N. 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 County Fair Campaign Practices Committee is to help set an acceptable standard for political discussion by offering a forum for identifying unfair campaign practices and promoting a climate in which candidates conduct honest and fair campaigns. The Committee encourages candidates to conduct campaigns openly and fairly, to focus on issues and qualifications, to refrain from dishonest and defamatory attacks, and to avoid the use of campaign materials that distort the facts.
The Committee accepts written complaints from candidates about alleged unfair campaign practices. The Committee may then hold hearings to determine whether the action complained about is indeed unfair or whether it falls within acceptable political discourse. Among other things that the Committee will consider to be an unfair campaign practice is a misstatement of a material fact or any communication that misleads the public.
The Committee has no power to compel anyone or any group to stop doing what it has found to be unfair, nor does it have the authority or power to enforce election or other laws.
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, focusing on issues and qualifications.
- The Candidate will not use or condone any campaign material or advertisement that misstates, misrepresents or distorts material fact or any communication that misleads the public. The Candidate will neither engage in nor be involved with false or misleading attacks upon the character of an opponent, nor in invasions of privacy unrelated to fitness for office.
- The Candidate will not participate in nor condone any appeal to prejudice.
- The Candidate will clearly identify by name the funding 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. This includes, but is not limited to, announcing that he/she has filed a complaint, or quoting the Committee’s Findings unless the individual Finding cited is quoted in its entirety.
- The Candidate will publicly repudiate materials or actions from any individual or group that violates this Statement of Principles.