RYE BROOK, NY (September 27, 2017) - The Westchester County Fair Campaign Practices Committee met on September 27, 2017 to hear the complaints of Liam Carroll, candidate for Town Supervisor, Town of Cortlandt, against Linda Puglisi, incumbent and candidate for the same position. Mr. Carroll represented himself. Ms. Puglisi did not attend nor send a representative.
Mr. Carroll quoted the following statement made by Ms. Puglisi in a Northern Westchester Examiner letter to the editor: “…we continued our very low tax record in 2016. Over the 26 year period of this administration, we have only increased town taxes by 1% total.”
COMPLAINT #1: Mr. Carroll said that Ms. Puglisi’s statement of a 1% tax increase is misleading, because town taxes make up only a small portion of the total property tax bill, and total property taxes have gone up substantially more than 1%.
FINDING: Fair. Ms. Puglisi’s communications make it clear that the reference is to town taxes only. She and the Town of Cortlandt have no control over other parts of the property tax bill.
COMPLAINT #2: Mr. Carroll said that Ms. Puglisi's statement of a 1% tax increase over a 26 year period is misleading because town taxes have increased much more than 1% over the past 26 years.
FINDING: Unfair. While in some communications Ms. Puglisi claims that the 1% increase is an average over the 26 years, in others she gives the impression that Town taxes have gone up only 1% total over that 26-year period. In fact, Town taxes have increased more than 1% in some of the years during that time frame.
Committee Members: Susan P. Guma, [Chair], Jennifer Mebes Flagg [Coordinator], Paul C. Atkinson, 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, Philip M. Maley, 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.