The Westchester County Fair Campaign Practices Committee met on March 14, 2018 to hear the complaints of Antonio Leo and Daniel Lang, candidates for Tuckahoe Village Trustee, against Sarah DeRise and Omayra Andino, also candidates for Tuckahoe Village Trustee. Mr. Leo represented himself. Ms. DeRise and Ms. Andino represented themselves. Mr. Lang did not attend.
Mr. Leo and Mr. Lang complain that Ms. DeRise and Ms. Andino engaged in an unfair campaign practice by including the following statement on the Tuckahoe Democrats website: “Over the past three years, the Village Board has given out $1.26M in tax rebates, mainly to developers and institutions.” According to Messrs. Leo and Lang, “the village of Tuckahoe does not now, or at any time ever give “tax breaks” to any individual and or developers.”
The statement from Ms. DeRise and Ms. Andino did not allege "tax breaks." The statement stated that tax rebates were given. It is the responsibility of the village to issue tax rebates that result from negotiated settlements and judgments rendered by the courts.
Mr. Leo and Mr. Lang complain that Ms. Andino made the following false statement on a channel 11, station WPIX, interview when referring to the Tuckahoe Village Board:
“…It’s been all male, all Republican for more than a decade…”
FINDING: NO FINDING
Ms. Andino made the assertion that language in her 1 ½ hour interview was edited down to about 2 minutes, eliminating important information and context, therefore misrepresenting what she said. This could not be confirmed, as the Fair Campaign Practices Committee did not have access to the full interview tape.
Mr. Leo and Mr. Lang complain that Ms. DeRise and Ms. Andino violated the FCPC Statement of Principles since they “appeared before the Village of Tuckahoe public meeting and publicly stated their Unfair Complaint 1 & 2 knowing full well they would be filing with Unfair Campaign.”
The relevant FCPC Principle is the following: “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…” Based on the recordings provided, Ms. DeRise and Ms. Andino did not violate the FCPC Statement of Principles since there was no mention of such filing during the public meeting in the Village of Tuckahoe.
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.