The truth is out there.
Conspiracy theorists lined up on Tuesday to question if Citizens Union chief Dick Dadey, who turned himself into police for a drug possession charge, was targeted by police more for what he says than what he does.
Dadey, they say, was one of the most prominent voices urging New Yorkers to vote “Yes” on Nov. 7 on a controversial ballot measure calling for a state constitutional convention — which police unions fiercely oppose — making the shocking affair seem like a move to silence Dadey.
“He’s being set up. They want to quiet a guy whose advocacy threatens to upend the state constitution,” said colorful Brooklyn Heights criminal defense attorney Howard Greenberg. “The whole fact pattern smells like rotten fish to me. The timing of his charade is no accident.”
Dadey was arrested after police, inside his home with a warrant to search for child pornography on his computer, instead found small amounts of ecstasy and methamphetamine.
The question of whether or not to hold a state constitutional convention is on the ballot every 20 years, and this year both the pro and con campaigns are particularly aggressive. Pro-convention groups argue that this is a once-in-a-generation chance to close loopholes and drain the swamp in Albany after a long roster of politicians have fallen to corruption charges. On the other side, many public-sector unions who receive government pensions are strongly urging against a convention, wary that whoever does write the new laws could strike the constitution’s protections for pensions, or take away other benefits so many New Yorkers receive.
But whether Dadey’s found guilty or not, accusing someone as something as disturbing as child pornography will forever tarnish a reputation — especially when that person is a public figure, said another criminal defense attorney who is also suspicious of Dadey’s arrest.
“You make an accusation, even if it’s disapproved later on, still there will try to be people that hold it against him,” said Joyce David. “It sounds like a dirty trick — just because he’s a leader of a controversial group.”
But noted civil rights attorney Norman Siegel, who has also supports the convention, warned against jumping to conclusions without hard evidence. He acknowledged that outspoken public figures on controversial topics do often get preyed on, but he doesn’t believe the constitutional convention would warrant that kind of hit job.
“There are people historically who have engaged in controversial speech and they get targeted — I’m aware of that. I’ve represented people in those situations, but you need hard evidence, specific device before you say that law enforce set him up,” said Siegel. “Dick is a very established and effective advocate, if it turns out that evince shows this is planted, we have a serious retaliatory action. I think we shouldn’t rush to judgement here, we should let the facts come out and hear what Dick Dadey and his attorneys have to say.”
Dadey, in fact, spoke out for a former colleague whom he claimed was fired because of his stance on the convention. Brandon West, a budget analyst for the Council, was fired days after he supported the constitutional convention on a television show in Albany back in July.
“You would expect this out of Russia, not out of our city democracy,” Dadey then told the New York Post.