Golden gaffe: State senator insults Dem Council candidate

Golden gaffe: State senator insults Dem Council candidate
Community News Group / Julianne Cuba

State Sen. Marty Golden (R–Bay Ridge) endorsed his long-time staffer John Quaglione to replace term-limited Councilman Vincent Gentile (D–Bay Ridge) on June 1, but not before he called Gentile’s own staffer, Justin Brannan, who is also a Democratic candidate for the same seat, “fat boy” when he couldn’t remember his name.

Quaglione’s campaign invited local reporters for a “press-only sit down with State Senator Marty Golden and John Quaglione” at the Bridgeview Diner on June 1. I sat down right across the table from Golde, with my notebook out, and when he jokingly referred to Brannan by size rather than name, I jotted it down.

Golden notice and said, “You look like a reporter.”

He then turned to the campaign manager and told him he wished he had been informed he was sitting with reporters — despite the fact the event was billed as a “press-only sit down” — and then warned me not to publish his gaffe, claiming if I did so that I’d never have a sit down with him again.

Brannan has not been shy about his efforts to lose weight, and has a sense of humor about it, imploring people to smack bagels out of his hand in his New Year’s resolution — but was not a fan of Golden’s joke, he said.

“It’s unfortunate to see our state senator throw around petty insults. It just shows you that my Republican opponents can’t compete on the issues, so they resort to schoolyard tactics. I’m proud to be the one candidate in this Council race with the track record of fighting for our community,” said Brannan in an e-mailed statement. “Our campaign is resonating with families because they want to see elected officials accountable to their needs. Simply put, results win elections, not fat jokes.”

• • •

Councilman David Greenfield (D–Borough Park) — who chairs the Council’s influential Land Use Committee and who has recently raised eyebrows for having a stash of $308,641 in real estate money in a state campaign account called GreenfieldNY — may be facing a primary challenger for his seat.

David Mandel registered as a candidate for the 44th Council race on May 24, and has not filed any campaign disclosures as of June 7, city records show.

Mandel’s potential candidacy comes at an interesting time, when sources say that Greenfield is angling for his pal, local politico Kalman Yeger, to unseat Councilman Chaim Deutsch (D–Sheepshead Bay) in a power play to expand his influence in the borough’s heavily Orthodox Jewish communities.

Madel could make hay out of Greenfield’s state-registered cash stash, which campaign finance experts say is a legal but hardly ethical way to collect contributions from real estate and other special interests barred from donating to his Council campaign coffers, thereby skirting the city’s strong campaign finance laws.

“Greenfield has legally — but unethically — created a mechanism for him to receive political contributions from entities that are otherwise prohibited under the city,” said Citizens Union head Dick Dadey. “He’s making a mockery of it.”

Greenfield opened the account in 2013 when he was considering running for a state seat, his office said — one year before getting named chairman of the Land Use Committee, and the same year he was re-elected to his first full term after winning a special election in 2010.

The state campaign account has received thousands in cash from real estate companies right up until this past January, when Greenfield decided to forgo a shot at the state level and run for re-election to Council instead. But his office refused to say for which state office he was considering.

Greenfield won’t raise money for his state account while seeking Council re-election, his office said, and the last contribution to his account is from Jan. 11, 2017, according to the state records. The last expenditure reported is to Compliance NY — which Yeger owns — for routine maintenance of the account.

Mandel did not respond to requests for comment.

• • •

Borough President Adams got a $2,270 gift from the repressive regime of Azerbaijanwhose authorities have been on a crusade against human-rights activists, jailing journalists, political activists, and human rights defenders — when he took a free trip to the Central Asian nation on their dime in August 2016, according to newly released city records.

The Beep’s four-day mission to the ex-Soviet state “focused on promoting cultural exchange and religious diversity, highlighted by his attendance at a Torah scroll gifting ceremony to a local synagogue that will bring together community members of the country’s Muslim majority and Jewish minority,” according to his website announcing the trip as part of Brooklyn’s sister city agreement with the Sabail district of Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan in 2016.

Thousands of Azeris live in Brooklyn, many in Sheepshead Bay, and The Beep hoped to advance the relationship between the two through the cultural exchange. Adams recently hosted the second-annual festival celebrating the two cultures at a theater in Brighton Beach on May 27 in partnership with the Brooklyn Baku Friendship Association.

Although the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the Republic of Azerbaijan footed the bill for Adam’s air fare, hotel, and ground transportation, according to the city records, Adams was only representing Brooklynites, not endorsing the policies of the host nation, said spokesman Stefan Ringel in an e-mailed statement.

“Borough President Adams works directly with community leaders here and abroad to advance a mission of cultural collaboration that promotes shared peace and prosperity,” he said. “Wherever he goes, he represents the broad diversity of more than 2.6 million Brooklynites, not the views or behaviors of any foreign entity from which they may originally hail.”

That same year, Adams also traveled to Israel on a trip paid for by the Jewish Council of New York, according to the records.

• • •

The New York State Reform Party, headed by Guardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa, endorsed Republican candidate Bob Capano for the 43rd-District Council race in which Capano is also vying for the Republican nomination against Liam McCabe and Quaglione.

Councilman Gentile endorsed Brannan to succeed him, along with the Working Families Party, and New York City musicians union, Local 802 AFM.

The New York City chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America endorsed Khader El-Yateem for the same seat.

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