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Brad Lander fends off racism accusations

Call him “Brad Slander.”

Councilman Brad Lander (D–Park Slope) has riled Asian groups by calling supporters of Yungman Lee (one of Rep. Nydia Velazquez’s challengers) “scumbags.”

Lander said on May 31 that Lee’s supporters and mailings were “fueled by scumbags … small-minded, nasty, and funded by dark money.” And he urged voters to “go out and re-elect Velazquez.”

Asian community groups called that racist and rallied on the steps of City Hall on June 6 denouncing the remark. And the Chinese-American challenger said Lander’s comments are unnecessary and disrespectful, and his choice of words were pointedly distasteful.

“In my view it’s over the top of what should be part of our political discourse,” said Lee. “Language like that and the tone of that — he talks about dark money, the attitude is dark. Looking at the big picture of what our democracy should be, we shouldn’t have language like that in our politics. For somebody who proclaims he’s progressive and liberal, it doesn’t look right, it doesn’t smell right.”

Lee demanded an apology, but Lander refused, claiming his remarks were directed at dark-money groups rather than individuals.

“My comments were not aimed at any real human beings — but at the LLCs, shell corporations, and special-interest money paying for anonymous lies and distortions against Congresswoman Velazquez. You can’t apologize to an LLC,” he said.

Velazquez, who is seeking a 13th term, faces Lee and attorney Jeff Kurzon in the June 28 primary.

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Rumor has it that term-limited Councilman Vincent Gentile (D–Bay Ridge) — whose term expires in 2017 — may leave Council early to take the seat of the late Judge Arthur Schack, sources say.

The lawyer and former Queens prosecutor passed the Kings County Democratic Party’s Judicial Screening Committee for civil court judgeship on May 2, according to Kings County Politics. And he may be angling for the late great Ridge jurist’s seat on Brooklyn’s civil supreme court, political watchers say.

But Gentile’s campaign told this paper back on April 27 that the councilman has no such plans.

“Currently, Councilman Gentile has no plans for after his term ends. He’s focused on serving his constituents for the remainder of his term and he would continue to serve them for another 12 years if he could,” said communications director Travis Lamprecht.

His office did not respond to requests for comment.

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.

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