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Golden defends staffer with gang ties

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He’s a Proud Boy and a Golden boy!

Critics are calling on Republican Bay Ridge state Sen. Marty Golden to fire his staffer who reportedly invited a self-described gang with ties to white supremacist organizations to a Manhattan Republican club last weekend, after the so-called “Proud Boys” were caught on video beating a protester on the street outside.

“I am horrified by the revelation that my opponent has a member of the white nationalist group Proud Boys on his payroll,” said Golden’s Democratic challenger Andrew Gounardes. “New York cannot afford to have anyone in office that associates himself with hate.”

Manhattanite Ian Reilly has worked to re-elect the incumbent for a ninth term to represent parts of Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Marine Park, Gerritsen Beach, and Sheepshead Bay for the past several months, taking home a $605 check from the pol’s coffers 13 times between July through September, according to state records.

But Reilly is also a member and serves as the Executive Committee Chair of the Metropolitan Republican Club that hosted the alt-right group on Oct. 12, which led to a street brawl with protesters, arrests, and now calls for police investigate the clash as a hate crime.

And Reilly isn’t the only Golden staffer who’s gotten in hot water with his constituents — Golden axed his long-time employee Anthony Testaverde back in March after the staffer was caught sharing posts on social media comparing Democrats and survivors of the February Parkland shooting to Nazis.

But Golden refuses to punish Reilly — who accompanied him to a candidates forum in Fort Hamilton on Oct. 3 — instead saying through spokesman Michael Tobman that he’s a “friend.”

Golden cannot claim to his constituents that he will stand up to acts of hate when his own campaign staffer welcomed, and then defended, bringing the Proud Boys — whose founder Gavin McInnes is labeled a bigot, misogynist, and Islamophobe who incites violence by the Southern Poverty Law Center — to the Republican political club, said Gounardes.

“Ian Reilly’s presence on Marty Golden’s staff and in our community sends a dangerous message to those who perpetuate hate. Just two week ago there was a swastika found in Bay Ridge, and over the weekend a Jewish man was brutally beaten in a hate crime,” he said. “You cannot simultaneously condemn those attacks while also employing Ian Reilly, a defender of white nationalist hate groups like the Proud Boys.”

Golden should have learned his lesson the first time with his now-former staffer Testaverde — or at least after his other recent scandals, including making a racially charged comment about drug addiction, and inviting firebrand Islamophobe Sebastian Gorka to a Brooklyn Republican gala in May, said Gounardes.

“Marty Golden has been bankrolling and palling around with neo-nazis and those who would defend them. You would think after being forced to fire his staffer Anthony Testaverde for comparing Parkland survivors to Nazis, and the community outcry he received for welcoming neo-nazi Sebastian Gorka to a Republican Party Fund-raiser in Dyker Heights, Marty Golden would stop affiliating with supporters of known hate groups,” he said. “Marty Golden should denounce Ian Reilly and fire him immediately if he truly believes that everyone, regardless of religion, race, or gender, is welcome in our community.”

Two days after this paper reached out to Golden for comment about Reilly — and following backlash for his refusal to fire him — his campaign spokesman abruptly and without an explanation cancelled Golden’s previously scheduled sit-down interview with our editorial board slated for the next day.

“Apologies all around, but we need to cancel tomorrow’s meeting with Senator Golden,” said Tobman in an e-mail when reporter Julianne McShane followed up to confirm the meeting. “Let’s circle back early next week to discuss.”

This paper has not yet heard back about when Golden will reschedule an interview as part of pre-election coverage before the Nov. 6 election, when he will face off against Gounardes, who is also scheduled to meet with this paper Friday morning.

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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