A war of words is breaking out between two young challengers for North Brooklyn’s next Democratic District Leader — and Brooklyn’s judges are in the middle of it.
Less than a week after outgoing Greenpoint District Leader Steve Cohn praised Brooklyn’s judges during his political club’s annual fundraiser, insurgent candidate Lincoln Restler slammed both Cohn and his son, Warren, for perpetuating “cronyism” and favoritism within the Democratic Party.
Warren Cohn, a 23-year-old community liaison for Rep. Ed Towns (D-Williamsburg), is hoping to succeed his father, who declined to seek re-election for the largely political seat that he has held for 27 years. Despite the different Cohn running for the seat, Restler, 26, continued to attack the father for his close ties to the county’s judges.
”Of course Steve Cohn loves Brooklyn’s judiciary,” said Restler. “Brooklyn’s highly politicized judicial selection process has allowed Steve Cohn to profit greatly as the longtime secretary of the Brooklyn Democratic Party with a key role in selecting judges, and a lawyer in the Downtown Brooklyn courts system who was at one time the largest single recipient of courthouse patronage.”
Though not in the race anymore, Steve Cohn attacked right back, pointing out his substantial charitable work and legal service he has given to Brooklyn residents and organizations and with the county’s Democratic Party.
“My hard work for the bar association and the volunteer lawyers project and a very progressive application of the law is what I do,” said Cohn. “I’m a proud member of the Democratic Party and I have worked tirelessly over the years for the Democratic Party and I look forward to continuing to do so.”
The actual candidate, Warren Cohn, declined to respond directly, saying, “It doesn’t really have anything to do with me. I’m running [not Steve Cohn].”
He did call Restler’s charges against his father “old news”
“It’s who I am, I was born into it,” said Cohn. “He’s my dad. I pray that everyone in this world has a relationship with their dad similar to the one I have with my father.”
But Restler did not want to let the issue go, saying that “merit, rather than political affiliations, must be the critical factor in the judicial selection process and our democracy.”
Steve Cohn, himself the son of a former Williamsburg assemblyman, has a long history in the county’s Democratic Party and with the Brooklyn Bar Association, as its past president.
As the party’s executive secretary, Cohn suggested candidates for civil court judge in Brooklyn. As a reward for his efforts, his law firm collected several hundred thousand dollars over the years in court appointment fees.
Cohn, a one-time candidate for City Council, was embroiled in a minor scandal in 2003 when several Brooklyn judges told investigators that Cohn suggested that they consider certain lawyers when making court appointments such as receiverships, and gave them a list of politically connected attorneys to guide them.
In recent years, Cohn worked to reform the judicial selection process after law enforcement officials arrested then-party Chairman Clarence Norman for shaking down judicial candidates in exchange for pledging political support.
©2010 Community News Group
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