Citizen’s Union Endorses Marty Golden over Jamie Kemmerer — Now, THAT’S NEWS
CU endorsement of Golden based on faint praise and benefit of the doubt
Man bights “watchdog” story — Local press bashes “... the century-old, corruption-combating, good-government group...” for ignoring the obvious about State Senator Golden — But stops short of saying “The Fix Was In !”
CU Executive Director Dick Dadey says “...‘It’s fairness in our democracy to not judge people simply because they’re under investigation.’...” — But Golden simply isn't under investigation... He has a public paper trail of spending in his family's business... and voting tax-breaks for big donors
This is a very important endorsement for State Senator Martin Golden, because his Democratic opponent Jamie Kemmerer has made such a big issue about the long term incumbent Republican-Conservative State Senator’s apparent corruption in handling various matters connected to his office. Virtually Kemmerer’s entire campaign focused on the close inter-relationship of Golden’s fund raising and spending at the Golden family business, The Bay Ridge Manor; and special legislative favors to big contributors to Golden’s fund raising efforts.
Here is what the Citizens Union had to say about State Senator Golden: “‘[Golden] is a constructive partner in our efforts to create more readable ballots so people are less confused... He’s genuinely interested in seeing that voters know how to cast their ballots in the correct way, and that’s an important reform.’...” When questions were raised about the recent news of an investigation of Golden’s campaign financing, Citizens Union Executive Director Dick Dadey, said, “It would be irresponsible to make a decision based on a report of an investigation.... It’s fairness in our democracy to not judge people simply because they’re under investigation....”
If anyone had the slightest critical insight into these matters, as the Citizens Union and its staff certainly should have, one would wonder how any endorsement could have been given under these circumstances. First, one of the weakest “good government” citations ever given by the group; and second, a “benefit of the doubt” standard that simply has no application to public officials. Nobody ever said that elected officials had to be treated like “people,” certainly not like “ordinary people”; of course, unless you count corrupt officials after they have been caught. In fact, in something like this, the U.S. Supreme Court has specifically said that all notable and newsworthy people are quite open to negative inferences, remarks, criticisms and critical commentary. Using its own standards CU should have done exactly that; and clearly they didn’t with respect to State Senator Golden.
I am not the only one to be shocked at what the Citizens Union did. It was as if they went into Casablanca and did not find any gambling going on at the front of Rick’s Café American, and then concluded that Captain Renault was mistaken about any gambling on the premises as he cleared out the crowd from Rick’s large back room, while folding up his own “winnings.” The coverage of the CU endorsement of Golden in the Brooklyn Paper by Max Jaeger used this as its lead: “A political-corruption watchdog group has endorsed the campaign of a Brooklyn politician under investigation for corruption” ( See “Golden boy: Government watchdog endorses Ridge incumbent” by Max Jaeger, 10/27/14 [http://www.brooklynpaper.com/stories/37/44/br-citizens-union-picks-golden-2014-10-31-bk_37_44.html?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter]).
Reporter Jaeger dug into the CU information in support of its endorsement and found this: “Citizens Union asks candidates seeking its endorsement to complete a questionnaire stating their campaign goals and positions on reform-minded issues. Both Golden and challenger Jamie Kemmerer filled out the forms.... In one section, Golden said he supports ‘stricter requirements on the use of campaign contributions for non-campaign related activity, such as personal use.’...”
According to the Brooklyn Paper, “Golden has contended that all of his campaign spending has been aboveboard and perfectly legal....”; but its reporter Max Jaeger also noted that “Critics have attacked Golden for spending campaign cash on fund-raisers and constituent services events at the Bay Ridge Manor, which Golden sold to his brother before taking office....” With respect to those kinds of expenditures, Jaeger also pointed out that “The state board of elections handbook states that campaign cash can be used to ‘better serve constituents or better serve the office.’ Examples include ‘district office renovations, supplies, renovations, and telephones,’ the handbook states.”
Max Jaeger and the Brooklyn Paper pulled up short of saying Marty Golden’s answers to the Citizens Union questionnaire were bogus, but they did lead the reader to make that conclusion on their own. They even went a long way toward leaving any discerning reader wondering if there even might be more wrong about the whole CU endorsement of Golden than was discussed in their article.