At a chilly press conference in southern Brooklyn this afternoon, the Republican candidate in the special election to replace former State Senator Carl Kruger, David Storobin, laid out a barrage of attacks against his Democratic opponent, Councilman Lew Fidler.
“Mr. Fidler’s character renders him unfit to serve in the State Senate,” Mr. Storobin firmly stated early in his speech. ”This is not a statement I make lightly. I realize the implications of what I’m saying.”
Mr. Storobin, softly speaking, proceeded to launch into a series of negative press reports on Mr. Fidler from his time in the City Council, charging that Mr. Fidler has been doing everything from “suckling at the bosom of the Brooklyn political machine,” to ”prey[ing] on the poor” and being “proud of it.”
When The Politicker asked Mr. Storobin if he was distracting from more substantive issues like taxes and school vouchers, Mr. Storobin countered that it was Mr. Fidler who “made this part of this campaign” by bringing up personal attacks first. He previously cited the Fidler campaign bringing up the infamous “neo-Nazi” charges and expressing skepticism about a large contribution from his mother as examples of this. Democrats privately contend that it is Mr. Storobin who is waging the more sharply negative campaign through press conferences like this afternoon’s.
The entire event was rather awkward as a Democratic activist repeatedly interrupted Mr. Storobin as he made his remarks. After one of the interruptions, one of Mr. Storobin’s volunteers called the activist a “homosexual.”
Mr. Storobin’s campaign addressed the heckler in a later press release, charging that he was working on Mr. Fidler’s behalf. “Today’s press event got particularly out of hand when a volunteer made inappropriate and offensive comments to the Fidler campaign heckler,” Mr. Storobin said in the statement. “I condemned those inappropriate remarks immediately and the volunteer apologized.”
Update: The Fidler campaign passes along this statement from their campaign manager Kalman Yeger
“For 14 straight days, Mr. Storobin has done nothing other than talk about a perceived insult he created in only his own head. This is now his second press conference where he has erratically engaged in nothing other than false and malicious attacks on Lew Fidler’s words and record.
While Lew Fidler continues to campaign on issues important to the people of Brooklyn, Mr. Storobin does nothing more than lie, attack and lie some more. It’s a bit sickening at this point, but what else can we expect from someone who has no record, no accomplishments, and is trying to buy a Senate seat as the shill of his Albany Republican pals.”
Watch or read Mr. Storobin’s remarks below:
“Three weeks ago, my opponent — career politician, City Councilman Lew Fidler — decided to make character THE issue in this campaign.
“Before addressing jobs and taxes or education and entitlement reform — issues that real New Yorkers care about — he decided to embark on a smear campaign by spreading false and malicious rumors that I had ties to neo-Nazis and radical skinhead groups.
“While he still has yet to apologize for his deeply offensive behavior, the TRUTH is now known to everyone… that I am a proud zionist Jew, a strong supporter of Israel, with absolutely no ties whatsoever to extremist groups.
“But there is another truth that must be known as a result of this sad episode. Another fundamental truth has risen out of this desperate and pathetic display of politics at its worst. And we are here today to acknowledge that truth.
“Mr. Fidler was right about only one thing. Character does matter in this race… but it is not my character that is at issue in this election; it is Mr. Fidler’s record of highly questionable, unethical behavior as a career politician, a City Councilman and a power broker whose the product of the corrupt Brooklyn Democrat political machine.
“Today, we are here to say that character does count. And that Mr. Fidler’s character renders him unfit to serve in the State Senate.
“This is not a statement I make lightly. I realize the the implications of what I’m saying.
“But this issue, the character issue, has become the central issue in this campaign.
“And now that we know the kind of person Lew Fidler is — the kind of person who would say or do anything to get elected…
the kind of person who would sell out a member of his own faith, his own community, just so he can rise another rung on his career political ladder…
Now that we know the kind of person Lew Fidler is, we have an obligation to examine Mr. Fidler’s record and determine whether he merits our vote for state senate, and the answer is NO.
“Let’s look at Mr. Fidler’s character record.
“First, I have always believed that you can judge a lot about a person by the company he keeps.
“What kind of company does Mr. Fidler keep?
“This is a man who is the product of, the creation of a corrupt Democrat political machine that has ruled Brooklyn for three generations.
“Mr. Fidler is the hand-picked candidate of political boss Vito Lopez. He is the heir — the direct descendant of “Big Tony” Genovese, Stan Fink, and Boss Esposito.
“His political buddies even held a political rally for him on the floor of the New York State Assembly, which good government groups called an outrage. But this sort of political cronyism is nothing new to Lew Fidler.
“His entire professional life, Mr. Fidler has been suckling at the bosom of the Brooklyn political machine, and now it’s his turn to run for state senate.
“Mr. Fidler is a man who has given money and taken money from the now disgraced Carl Kruger — the man who pled guilty to corruption and is the reason we have this special election.
“Mr. Fidler even arranged patronage jobs for his political cronies at City Hall including a man who was disbarred by the New York Bar Association but was put in charge of legislative work.
“You may think that all this questionable ethical behavior sounds normal and that there’s nothing out of the ordinary here. But that is exactly the point. Mr. Fidler comes from a culture that not only says political cronyism is okay, he embraces it and he’s proud of it.
“Voters, beware: if you vote for Lew Fidler, all you’ll get is another career politician, and more of the same corrupt machine-style politics that has ruled Brooklyn for decades.
[CONFLICT OF INTEREST]
“But Mr. Fidler’s ethical dilemmas only begin with his political cronyism; they certainly do not end there.
“Mr. Fidler has, for many years, been on the payroll as chief counsel to a company named LawCash. This is a company that advances money at extremely high interest rates to people who are suing corporations including the corporation of the City of New York.
“There are two problems with this.
“One, Mr. Fidler thinks it’s okay — in fact he’s said he’s “proud” of his association with (those are HIS words) — proud of his job at LawCash, a company that makes its living poaching low income people with little hope, and then bleeding them of large chunks of settlements, sometimes 30%, they are entitled to under the law.
“Do we really want a state senator that preys on the poor and is proud of it?
“And second, Mr. Fidler is under the employ of this company while he is a sitting City Councilman. This is an outrageous conflict of interest!
“This is a man who was elected by the people of New York to protect their interests, their tax dollars, and to be a good steward of the public trust. How can Mr. Fidler protect the interests if the taxpayers of New York City when, at the SAME time, he is the chief lawyer for a company that takes money from people who are suing this city?
“Now this issue has been raised in the press before. It is nothing new. But despite cries from government watch dog groups and newspapers like the New York Post and The Daily News against Mr. Fidler’s ethical conflict of interest, Mr. Fidler has persisted. He is still an chief lawyer for law cash, and as I said he’s even said he’s proud of it.
“Mr. Fidler has largely gone unopposed during thus far in his never ending quest for public office. That has meant that even if voters knew about his ethical lapses and conflicts of interests, they have had no credible alternative — no choice other than Mr. Fidler.
“But now voters DO have a choice. You don’t have to settle for the ethically challenged Mr. Fidler. You can vote for David Storobin, a man with integrity and who know that character counts.
[THE PUBLIC’S MONEY OR LEW FIDLER’S MONEY?]
“Now, Mr. Fidler has had more than a decade in public office, and even longer than that inside the Brooklyn political machine. Over that time, Mr. Fidler has developed an attitude about public money and public resources that is nothing less than offensive to me as a taxpayer.
“Mr. Fidler has a clear sense of entitlement about himself when it comes to using and abusing taxpayer money and public resources.
“In 2010, the New York Post exposed and documented Mr. Fidler’s history of abusing parking privileges at Brooklyn Borough Hall. Apparently Mr. Fidler thinks that all of us regular New Yorkers should have to pay for parking and pay outrageous parking tickets and penalties when we make a mistake, but as a member of the elite political establishment he feels he’s entitled to park where ever he wants, whenever he wants.
“But he didn’t stop there. Even after the NY Post exposed him, he has continued to abuse his office on the City Council by doing the same thing! Only last week, he was once again caught abusing parking privileges at the same place.
“Mr. Fidler got caught with his hang in the cookie jar. And then went back and tried to take a cookie again.
“This is unbelievable behavior by a public official that can only come from a blatant sense of entitlement to use and abuse his the powers and privileges of his office.
“But Mr. Fidler’s out-of-touch attitude about taxpayer money is not confined to parking.
“Mr. Fidler has also accepted public money to crush political opponents. In 2009, despite knocking his Democrat opponents off the ballot, and despite a Republican opponent who raised less than $700, Mr. Fidler took more than $84,000 in public, taxpayer money to promote himself across his City Council district and crush a non-existent opponent who refused public financing.
“This is an egregious and irresponsible waste of taxpayer money. And the New York Daily News agreed when they called on Mr. Fidler to repay the money.
“But did he? No… because he feels entitled to spend your, the taxpayer’s money promoting his own political interests and abusing his access to public campaign funds.
“Shame on you Mr. Fidler. You should return that money. It’s long overdue.
“Mr. Fidler’s ethical lapses and history of abuse of his privileges of public office show beyond a shadow of doubt that he is not the best choice to represent us in the state senate.
“He will go to any length to protect his political career… and that brings me back to where we started today.
“Mr. Fidler began this campaign by attacking my character with false and outrageous claims. And then when he got caught in his lie, he told another falsehood to defend himself, claiming that he simply “misspoke.”
“Let me directly answer Mr. Fidler’s claim that he misspoke.
“Mr. Fidler, why are you unable to tell the truth? …Why are you unable to tell the truth about what you said and why you said it.
“After you were caught on YouTube, and at other places, saying falsely that I had ties to neo-Nazi groups — after you got caught in a lie — your campaign doubled down and sent out a press release again accusing me of the same false charges.
“This proves that you did not misspeak in a momentary gaffe as you claim. No, you and your campaign made a decision to target my character and spread untrue rumors about me. It was your campaign strategy from the beginning.
“Well, you cam after my character, Mr. Fidler and were proven wrong.
“Now you must defend your own character problems… and they are many.
“Mr. Fiddler your history of ethical lapses and questionable behavior, your abuse of public resources and sense of entitlement, render you unfit to represent the people of Brooklyn in the State Senate.
“That’s my statement to you. And unlike you, I stand by it.”