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The Westchester County Fair Campaign Practices Committee met on September 19, 2016 to hear the complaints of Alison Boak, Democratic candidate for the New York State Senate, District 40, against Terrence Murphy, Republican candidate for the same Senate seat. Ms. Boak represented herself, accompanied by counsel Alan Goldston and Chandler Bellanca. Mr. Murphy was represented by Chris Arnold and Daniel Pagano.
Complaint: Alison Boak complained that Terrence Murphy’s spokesman, Scott Reif, falsely alleged that her Florida rental license was suspended because of failure to pay taxes. In addition, a robocall from “PRRC” made the same allegation.
Finding: No Finding
The Committee could not make a determination based on the information presented.
Complaint: Alison Boak complained that Terrence Murphy’s spokesman, Scott Reif, alleged that the nonprofit she founded in l999 does not serve its intended and advertised purpose and solely enriches her personally. In addition, a robocall from “PRRC” was sent with the same allegation.
The charges were not supported by the facts. The organization referred to is a legitimate charity. This violates the Fair Campaign Practices Committee Guideline that states, “A candidate should neither engage in nor be involved with false or misleading attacks on the character of an opponent…”
Complaint: Alison Boak complained that an anonymous pre-recorded robocall was sent to voters in the 40th district from “PRRC” falsely stating that she is in favor of repealing the Property Tax Cap.
While the organization that originated the robocalls is unknown, the Murphy campaign violated the Fair Campaign Practices Committee Guideline that states, “A candidate bears responsibility for the accuracy of campaign literature distributed in support of his/her candidacy. If inaccurate, the candidate should publicly disavow the misleading contents of that material.” Murphy’s spokespersons agreed to post a disavowal of the robocalls on the campaign’s website.
Members: Susan P. Guma, [Chair], Miriam Cohen [Coordinator], Paul C. Atkinson, Nick Beilenson, Elizabeth Bermel, Gisele Castro, Daniel S. Franklin, Jr., Victor J. Goldberg, LaRuth Gray, Joan Grangenois-Thomas, Lee Kinnally, Robert C. Kirkwood, Polly Kuhn, Carole Princer Levy, Philip M. Maley, Harry Phillips III, Joy Rosenzweig, Susan Schwarz, Evelyn M. Stock.
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.