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Committee Releases Findings in Katz/Gristina Dispute

Group reprimands Gristina for attacks on Katz's voting and attendance, but backs him on personal attacks, "RINO" complaints.

The Westchester County Fair Campaign Practices Committee has issued findings from yesterday's meeting to hear complaints lodged by Assemblyman Steve Katz (R-Mohegan Lake) in his primary run against challenger Dario Gristina (R-Putnam Valley). The committee has ruled that Gristina had an "unfair campaign practice" in matters regarding Katz's assembly attendence and voting record. However, it sided with Gristina regarding complaints from Katz that Gristina accused him of unfair personal attacks, and of calling him a RINO (Republican in Name Only).

Below is a copy of the committee's findings for each complaint:

The Westchester County Fair Campaign Practices Committee met on August 14,
2012, to hear the complaint of Steve Katz against Dario Gristina, candidates in the Republican primary election for the New York State Assembly, 94th District. Dr. Katz was represented by Attorney Mike Duffy and Doug Colety. Mr. Gristina was accompanied by Lauren Gruppuso and Mark Williams.

COMPLAINT:
A recent mailer on behalf of Mr. Gristina contained the statement, “the personal
attacks and rumor mills have begun.” Dr. Katz’s response was that he had not sent any mailers or made any comments regarding Mr. Gristina’s past.
FINDING: FAIR CAMPAIGN PRACTICE
The Committee determined that the Katz campaign’s allegation that Dr. Katz had not sent mailers or comments containing those claims did not directly respond to whether Dr Katz had made such a claim. Mr. Gristina produced a reprint from the New York Daily News dated March 8, 2012 that quoted Dr. Katz as referring to Mr. Gristina’s “criminal past.” Mr. Gristina told the Committee that he had not been convicted of or pled guilty to any criminal violation.

COMPLAINT:
Dr. Katz complained that Mr. Gristina’s mailer stated that Mr. Katz has “the worst attendance and voting record in the legislature,” without citing a source, and that the statement was factually inaccurate.
FINDING: UNFAIR CAMPAIGN PRACTICE
Mr. Gristina was unable to cite data to support the attendance claim. Mike Duffy, on behalf of Dr. Katz, submitted a list of those with the worst attendance records. Dr. Katz’s name was not on it. Mr. Gristina subsequently admitted that the statement about Dr. Katz’s attendance record was inaccurate. Dr. Katz’s voting record is subjective and the Committee did not make a finding about that claim.

COMPLAINT:
A mailer for the Gristina campaign alleged that “Katz has a D+ voting record,”
without attribution or citation.
FINDING: UNFAIR CAMPAIGN PRACTICE
The Committee found that the statement was misleading because, by not
mentioning the source, the implication could be drawn that the rating came from the Republican Party. Dr. Katz was apparently labeled with a “D+” rating in Spring 2012 mailers issued by the Conservative Party and an unnamed political opponent of Dr Katz in a previous primary race but these “sources” were not noted in the Gristina mailer.

COMPLAINT:
Mr. Gristina’s mailer “unleashed GOP top brass to bully Dario into quitting,” without any citation or substantiation.
NO FINDING
The Committee did not receive sufficient documentation to substantiate the claim.

COMPLAINT:
Mr. Gristina referred to Dr. Katz as a “Rino (Republican in Name Only)” without any qualification.
FINDING: FAIR CAMPAIGN PRACTICE
The Committee found that such statements fall within the realm of normal political discourse.

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