Silver opponent admits false endorsement claim
By Josh Rogers
Paul Newell, who is challenging Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver in Tuesday’s Democratic primary, admitted to falsely claiming editorial endorsements from Downtown Express and The Villager.
The claim was made in an email to supporters on Sunday, two days before the primary. Newell apologized to the publisher of both papers, John W. Sutter, immediately after Sutter contacted the campaign about the inaccuracy.
In an interview with this reporter immediately after he issued the apology, Newell said he would not inform his supporters of the inaccuracy.
“I don’t think I can do this at this point in the campaign,” he said.
At roughly the same time as the email blast, the Newell campaign sent out an accurate press release to the media trumpeting endorsements from the Daily News, the New York Times and New York Post, without mentioning the Express and Villager.
He told the two Community Media L.L.C. papers the two emails were not a calculated effort to avoid sending inaccurate claims to reporters, who would be more likely to read the editorials if they reported about them. He said he personally wrote the email to his supporter list and he “inadvertently” mentioned a positive quote from the Downtown papers before he said he had “unanimous support from New York editorial boards.” Had the quote from the papers followed that line, it would have made it clear he was only referring to the daily papers, Newell said.
Newell quoted selectively from one sentence in the Community Media editorial headlined “Silver for Assembly” to create the impression the papers were saying Newell had a better message than Silver, when in fact the editorial said the message was better than the third candidate in the race, Luke Henry (http://www.thevillager/villager_279/editorial.html).
The complete sentence read: “Of Silver’s two challengers, Paul Newell, a community organizer, has the more focused message and has brought some good ideas to the campaign.”
The sentence in Newell’s email (pasted below), which misspelled the word “united,” read: “The local newspapers Downtown Express and The Villager are also untied in their support for Paul characterizing him as ‘a community organizer, who has the more focused message and has brought … good ideas to the campaign.’ ”
Newell told the papers that all of the words he attributed to Community Media were accurate and bending a quote is standard campaign fare.
“I’m not the first candidate to ever creatively quote from a newspaper,” he said.
The Silver campaign did not criticize Newell and released this statement: “Shelly Silver is proud to have the endorsement of his hometown newspapers – the Downtown Express and The Villager. The reporters and editors at both papers know how hard Shelly works for the residents of Lower Manhattan on issues as diverse as school overcrowding, affordable housing, healthcare and the rebuilding of Lower Manhattan. He is honored to have their endorsement.”
The Henry campaign released this statement: "Seems as if Paul Newell is playing fast and loose with the truth again. We need people who can be counted upon to act with the utmost integrity in Albany."
Newell’s email to his supporter list:
Subj: Paul Newell Endorsed by all Major New York Newspapers
Today, The New York Daily News joined a chorus of voices endorsing Paul Newell's campaign to unseat Speaker Sheldon Silver in Tuesday's Democratic Primary. The Daily News hails Paul Newell as "a well-qualified representative who is both in sync with the district's political leanings and in touch with grass-roots concerns about traffic, schools, affordable housing and sustainable neighborhoods." Highlighting Sheldon Silver's unaccountability, The Daily News cites the fact that he "killed the tax on commuters, costing the city a total of $6.4 billion and climbing. Think of what the money could have meant to the police, parks or schools."
The Daily News' editorial board joined The New York Times, which wrote in its own endorsement of Paul's campaign that "Mr. Newell has done a better job of identifying Mr. Silver's weaknesses: mainly, his devotion to closed-door politics, including his refusal to disclose details about his outside income."
The local newspapers Downtown Express and The Villager are also untied in their support for Paul characterizing him as "a community organizer,who has the more focused message and has brought … good ideas to the campaign."
Rounding out the field, The New York Post endorsed Newell as well declaring "Downtown Democrats have an opportunity to help themselves and their state - by voting for Paul Newell on Primary Day."
The unanimous support from New York editorial boards is in the company of many community groups, backing a fellow community organizer, including The New York Community Council, Democrats for Education Reform, NYC Americans for Democratic Action and many more.
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