Frontus, Saperstein spar over ethics reform at Coney Assembly debate

Clean fight: Both Democratic nominee Mathylde Frontus, at center, and Republican nominee Steve Saperstein, at left, vowed to end the curse of corruption that has haunted Coney Island’s Assembly seat.
Brooklyn Daily
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They both want to clean up corruption in Coney Island.

The Democratic and Republican candidates for the Coney Island Assembly seat would end the seat’s history of corruption if elected, they each claimed at an Oct. 23 debate sponsored by the Bay Ridge Community Council.

Democratic nominee Mathylde Frontus and Republican nominee Steve Saperstein both insisted that they would take concrete steps to avoid the corruption of former assemblywoman Pamela Harris, who resigned in April after the Feds charged her with stealing money from storm-recovery agencies and came to power after the sudden resignation of former assemblyman Alec Broc-Krasny, who was indicted last year for his alleged role in an illegal scheme to funnel millions of opiate pills onto the black market and rip off the healthcare system.

Saperstein said he would support the Public Officers Accountability Act, an ethics reform bill that would mandate the disclosure of funds appropriated by the governor and members of the legislature and establish a commission on conduct, among other measures. Frontus said she would also support that bill, along with making public the appropriation of discretionary funds on the state level.

Saperstein claimed that Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie’s support for Frontus proves that Frontus would not be able keep Albany’s corruption at arm’s length. Heastie donated $2,000 to Harris after he found out she was under federal investigation — money Harris used to pay for her lawyers, according to the New York Post. Saperstein also falsely claimed that Frontus had donated to Harris — a claim that Saperstein later acknowledged to this paper was incorrect.

“My opponent over here — and Carl Heastie, who’s a big supporter of her now — donated money to Pam Harris, and Pam Harris used that money to basically defend herself, so it’s hard to say that it’s going to be a layer of distance between yourself and corruption in the Assembly,” Saperstein said at the debate.

But Frontus refuted the false charge, accusing Saperstein of making up facts.

“Mr. Saperstein, you can have your own opinions but you can’t have your own facts,” Frontus said. “Anybody in this auditorium tonight… knows that it’s absolutely preposterous to even insinuate that I cannot keep a distance between the corruption that’s happened — that’s absolutely crazy.”

Election Day is Nov. 6.

Reach reporter Julianne McShane at (718) 260–2523 or by e-mail at Follow her on Twitter @juliannemcshane.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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