RYE, N.Y. – The Westchester County Fair Campaign Practices Committee ruled in favor of state Senate candidate Bob Cohen’s claim that his opponent, Assemblyman George Latimer, wrongly informed the media of his complaint about Cohen's campaign commercials he believed to be misleading.
The Westchester County Fair Campaign Practices Committee was set up in order to promote a climate of honest and fair campaigning by candidates. The purpose of any complaint made is for the committee to release its findings in order to better inform the public on fair or unfair campaigning by candidates.
In the complaint of Latimer vs. Cohen, Democrat Latimer, claimed that a television commercial aired by Republican Cohen misled people into thinking that “regular” people were interviewed on the street, when in fact at least two of them had ties to Republican officials.
The Westchester County Fair Campaign Practices Committee ruled against Latimer. “The implication of a staged reporter hosting a spontaneous interview as a framework could have been misleading to some; however, the commercial was clearly labeled as a political advertisement,” according to a statement released Friday by the committee.
However, in a follow-up complaint of Cohen vs. Latimer, Cohen claimed that the Latimer campaign informed media that it filed a complaint against Cohen, violating the committee’s rule against informing the media prior to a hearing. According to the committee, the Latimer campaign told The Journal News on Sept. 28 that it had filed the complaint regarding the alleged unfair campaign practices.
Under the committee’s rules, “News releases concerning the filing of a complaint may come only from the committee. If notice of the filing of a complaint is made public by any other source, the committee will consider the action an unfair campaign practice.”
During a hearing Thursday night, Latimer’s representation Victor Mallison admitted that a representative of the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee had contacted the news outlet about the complaint filed with the committee. The act was considered an “unfair campaign practice,” the committee publicly announced Friday after deliberations following the hearing.
Cohen and Latimer are running to succeed retiring state Sen. Suzi Oppenheimer (D-Mamaroneck) in District 37, which contains the cities of New Rochelle, Rye, White Plains, and the towns of Harrison, Mamaroneck, New Castle, North Castle, Rye and Scarsdale.
In the most recent poll, released prior to the hearing by the Siena College Research Institute, Latimer had 44 percent of support from likely voters, compared to Cohen’s 41 percent.