With the deadline for filing petition challenges now passed, the tried-and-true tradition of denouncing the challengers has begun.
This time, it’s not the Queens’s borough president’s race, where one candidate accused another of thwarting the democratic process, but Brooklyn’s, where John Gangemi, a septuagenarian candidate for Brooklyn borough president, last night tore into his Democratic rival Eric Adams for an 11th-hour objection to his petitions.
(Staten Island’s borough president race has its own dust-up as well.)
“What is he so afraid of? Let’s both put our records before the voters and let them make the decision,” Mr. Gangemi, a councilman more than 30 years ago, raged in a blistering statement. “Then again, if I had the record Sen. Adams does, I might seek to eliminate any alternative as well.”
The Adams camp, however, defended the move, saying they’d found more than 600 blank spaces on Mr. Gangemi’s petitions and other discrepancies as well. Later today, the Board of Elections will make public all petition challenges filed across the city.
“After finding more than 600 blank signatures in Mr. Gangemi’s filing, we were compelled to do a further examination, which revealed numerous other instances of potentially fraudulent activity,” said Adams spokesman Evan Thies. “We are merely ensuring that the law is followed, and that no taxpayer money is used through the campaign finance program to fund the campaign of a candidate who is not legally entitled to be on the ballot … Brooklyn deserves a fair election and these questions can only be answered through a public airing of the record.”
Mr. Gangemi is a long-shot candidate but he is also the only Democrat standing between the state senator and Borough Hall. Political observers expect Mr. Adams, who has vastly out-raised Mr. Gangemi, to easily win the Democratic primary. But, as Mr. Gangemi noted, Mr. Adams has a complicated past.
In April, it was revealed he was likely one of the elected officials ex-State Senator Shirley Huntley–now serving a year in prison for embezzling from a sham nonprofit–wiretapped and that Mr. Adams was possibly under investigation as well.
“Adams’s challenge is particularly disturbing given the fact that his name recently surfaced as one of several public officials on wiretaps made by convicted ex-Senator Shirley Huntley,” Mr. Gangemi continued. “The FBI has been looking into Adams’s role in the controversial AEG deal involving a contract at the Aqueduct Racino after a scathing Inspector General report identified Adams’s involvement in the corrupt deal and in procuring illegal campaign contributions.”
Mr. Adams, according to a 2010 state inspector general’s report, played a key role in the controversial plan to bring a racetrack casino to south Queens. While the report excoriates Mr. Adams and other elected officials for their close involvement in an alleged bid-rigging scheme that led to one bidder being dropped for another, Mr. Adams was not charged with any wrongdoing.