The Westchester County Fair Campaign Practice Committee met on September 19, 2016 to hear the complaints of Terrence Murphy, Republican candidate for the New York State Senate, District 40, against Alison Boak, Democratic candidate for the same Senate seat. In addition to herself, Ms. Boak was supported by Chandler Bellanca and Alan Goldston. Mr. Murphy was represented by Chris Arnold and Daniel Pagano.
COMPLAINT: Terrence Murphy complained that Alison Boak claims that she is “the only candidate who has a proven track record of standing up to corruption;” and that she is “the only candidate who has pledged to limit my outside income.”
A candidate should not use the word “only” when reasonable questions about the truthfulness of the claim can be raised, as is the case in this situation.
COMPLAINT: Terrence Murphy complained that Alison Boak made false and misleading claims that Senator Murphy is “protecting child predators” and “on the side of child predators,” and “is for supporting child predators.” She also claimed that “Terrence Murphy supports child predators.”
A candidate should take great care in characterizing an opponent’s positions in the absence of a specific publicly stated position. Ms. Boak’s judgment that her opponent’s failure to support a specific piece of legislation constituted “protecting child predators, etc.,” was not a justification for her statements.
COMPLAINT: Terrence Murphy complained that Alison Boak made the false and misleading statement that “when reporters asked Terrence Murphy about Senate Bill S7296, he had nothing to say.”
Candidate Murphy did in fact make a public statement on the bill.
COMPLAINT: Terrence Murphy complained that Alison Boak made the false and misleading statement that “this will actually be my second run for office.”
Ms. Boak ran for public office more than twice.
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.