Law and disorder! District Attorney debate devolves into slam-fest

Law and disorder! District Attorney debate devolves into slam-fest
Photo by Arthur De Gaeta

The Aug. 14 debate between District Attorney Charles Hynes and challenger Ken Thompson at Saint Francis College in Brooklyn Heights turned into a Pier 6 brawl, with both candidates landing nasty, below-the-belt blows. It was hard to pick a winner, so instead we picked the top 10 hits of the night. Enjoy.


Attacking Hynes for residing in the gated community of Breezy Point, Queens, and for allegedly failing to speak out against the police policy of stopping and frisking people without a warrant, and for prosecuting young men for possession of small amounts of pot:

“I’m not sure if the people in Breezy Point are being arrested for marijuana, but the people in Brownsville are being arrested, the people in Bed-Stuy are getting arrested.”

Criticizing Hynes for recusing himself from prosecuting disgraced former Kings County Democratic boss Vito Lopez, because Lopez had endorsed Hynes in the last election:

“He said the reason he couldn’t prosecute his good buddy Vito Lopez was because they were so close.”

In response to Hynes repeatedly groaning while he spoke:

“He’s treating this like a game. This is not a game. The future of Brooklyn is at stake.”

On the unfortunate fates of Hynes’s past opponents: (John Phillips, a prosperous Bedford-Stuyvestand Civil Court judge who was rumored to be interested in running for district attorney, was declared mentally incompetent at Hynes’s request in 2001 and died penniless in 2008 after his legal guardians looted his $10 million estate. Hynes prosecuted John O’Hara, who ran several times against Hynes’s political allies and publicized Phillips’s story, for voting in the wrong election district — making him the only person in history besides suffragette Susan B. Anthony to be convicted of the obscure fraud charge. In 2003, Hynes’s office filed felony charges against his 2001 primary opponent, attorney Sandra Roper, for allegedly stealing $9,000 from a client.)

“People who run against you seem to end up dead, broke, and indicted.”

In response to Hynes interrupting to accuse him of lying:

“You have to be civil here.”


• In response to Thompson’s “civil” remark:

“Civil? I don’t think you know what that word means.”

• In response to audience members booing him for above comment:

“Are these people you’ve trained to act like this?”

• Answering Thompson’s claim that he failed to oppose stop-and-frisk, and Thompson’s allegation that star assistant district attorney Michael Vecchione threatened and bullied witnesses:

“The problem with Ken Thompson is he lets his rhetoric get ahead of his ideas and his brain.”

• On Thompson’s involvement in the private “Guns for Glory” firearm buyback program, which held a single event before folding:

“If he can’t manage one gun buyback program, how the hell is he going to manage any significant piece of policy?”

Disputing Thompson’s claim that Hynes had received endorsements from numerous black and Latino politicians because of his ties to the Democratic machine:

“That’s how he operates — anything that’s untrue, anything that’s scurrilous. If that’s the guy you want for D.A., vote for him.”


Thompson, denying significant involvement in “Guns for Glory,” commenting on Hynes’ novel “Triple Homicide”:

“I know you write books of fiction, but now is not the time for fiction.”

• Hynes, on moderator Harry Siegel repeatedly allowing Thompson to go over allotted three minutes:

“I’m not going to sit here and listen to his ravings.”

The Democratic primary is Sept. 10. The last day to register to vote is Fri, Aug. 16

Reach reporter Will Bredderman at [email protected] or by calling (718) 260-4507. Follow him at twitter.com/WillBredderman.

Unleashed: Thompson hit Hynes for his connections to Vito Lopez, the unfortunate fates of his past challengers, and his prosecution of young men for marijuana arrests.
Photo by Arthur De Gaeta