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Committee Releases Findings in Katz/Gristina Dispute

Committee reprimands Gristina for attacks on Katz's voting and attendance, but backs him on personal attacks, "RINO" complaint.

The Westchester County Fair Campaign Practices Committee has issued findings to hear complaints lodged by Assemblyman Steve Katz (R-Mohegan Lake) in his primary run against challenger Dario Gristina (R-Putnam Valley). The committee has ruled that Gristina had an "unfair campaign practice" in matters regarding Katz's assembly attendence and voting record. However, it sided with Gristina regarding complaints from Katz that Gristina accused him of unfair personal attacks, and of calling him a RINO (Republican in Name Only).

Below is a copy of the committee's findings for each complaint:

The Westchester County Fair Campaign Practices Committee met on August 14,
2012, to hear the complaint of Steve Katz against Dario Gristina, candidates in the Republican primary election for the New York State Assembly, 94th District. Dr. Katz was represented by Attorney Mike Duffy and Doug Colety. Mr. Gristina was accompanied by Lauren Gruppuso and Mark Williams.

COMPLAINT:
A recent mailer on behalf of Mr. Gristina contained the statement, “the personal
attacks and rumor mills have begun.” Dr. Katz’s response was that he had not sent any mailers or made any comments regarding Mr. Gristina’s past.
FINDING: FAIR CAMPAIGN PRACTICE
The Committee determined that the Katz campaign’s allegation that Dr. Katz had not sent mailers or comments containing those claims did not directly respond to whether Dr Katz had made such a claim. Mr. Gristina produced a reprint from the New York Daily News dated March 8, 2012 that quoted Dr. Katz as referring to Mr. Gristina’s “criminal past.” Mr. Gristina told the Committee that he had not been convicted of or pled guilty to any criminal violation.

COMPLAINT:
Dr. Katz complained that Mr. Gristina’s mailer stated that Mr. Katz has “the worst attendance and voting record in the legislature,” without citing a source, and that the statement was factually inaccurate.
FINDING: UNFAIR CAMPAIGN PRACTICE
Mr. Gristina was unable to cite data to support the attendance claim. Mike Duffy, on behalf of Dr. Katz, submitted a list of those with the worst attendance records. Dr. Katz’s name was not on it. Mr. Gristina subsequently admitted that the statement about Dr. Katz’s attendance record was inaccurate. Dr. Katz’s voting record is subjective and the Committee did not make a finding about that claim.

COMPLAINT:
A mailer for the Gristina campaign alleged that “Katz has a D+ voting record,”
without attribution or citation.
FINDING: UNFAIR CAMPAIGN PRACTICE
The Committee found that the statement was misleading because, by not
mentioning the source, the implication could be drawn that the rating came from the Republican Party. Dr. Katz was apparently labeled with a “D+” rating in Spring 2012 mailers issued by the Conservative Party and an unnamed political opponent of Dr Katz in a previous primary race but these “sources” were not noted in the Gristina mailer.

COMPLAINT:
Mr. Gristina’s mailer “unleashed GOP top brass to bully Dario into quitting,” without any citation or substantiation.
NO FINDING
The Committee did not receive sufficient documentation to substantiate the claim.

COMPLAINT:
Mr. Gristina referred to Dr. Katz as a “Rino (Republican in Name Only)” without any qualification.
FINDING: FAIR CAMPAIGN PRACTICE
The Committee found that such statements fall within the realm of normal political discourse.

Francis T McVetty August 17, 2012 at 07:24 PM
When candidates really don't have any solutions that is what they do. You only have to look at the presidential race to see that. It is about the economy, not a dog on the roof of a car or someone pushing an old lady off a cliff. When you don't have a record to stand on, you divert attention from that fact. It is no different than what a magician does. Let them debate the real issues. You and I know what they are, they should also.
Bruce Yablon August 19, 2012 at 03:21 AM
Lauren, You are purposely misstated the finding of the Committee. As a Member of the Committee I must remind everyone that the ONLY conclusions that can be inferred are what is stated in the decision. Of the complaints filed by Katz against Gristina, 2 were found to be legitimate unfair campaign practices and the others were not unfair or indeterminate. There were NO complaints of unfair practices or counterclaims filed by Mr. Gristina so it is impossible for Katz to be found 'wrong' The findings are clear and self evident. Please do not create a false narrative about the findings. If Gristina wants or wanted to file counter claims he should feel free to do so but the Committee made no decisions about Katz himself or his campaign practices.
David Royce August 19, 2012 at 07:46 PM
Lauren. You are on Dario Gristina's staff and your posts here and on other stories do not state this. you are passing yourself off as a regular voter when, instead you are on the Candidate's staff/team. This is not ethical. Second, Mr. Yablon says it better than I can. The false narrative is your second unethical practice. We as voters aren't stupid. We can see the truth. My advice is that you go back to school in some way or form and learn how to effectively communicate.
Francis T McVetty August 19, 2012 at 08:04 PM
Maybe Lauren can get some tips from Joe Biden, he does so well at communicating with us common folks. .
Bill August 26, 2012 at 01:11 AM
Do the democrats have anyone decent running against these two losers? I was so looking forward to Katz vs. Ball in the primary, it would have been so much fun.

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