In a scathing letter to labor unions and progressive political clubs, Democratic Councilman Lew Fidler accused fellow Democrat Igor Oberman, who is seeking to represent a neighboring district, of leaking information to his one-time Republican opponent.
Mr. Fidler entered a hotly-contested special election for the State Senate last year, losing by only 13 votes. One of the contributing factors to the loss, Mr. Fidler said, was Mr. Oberman passing along campaign secrets to his GOP rival, David Storobin. Mr. Fidler argued that these actions should disqualify Mr. Oberman, who has positioned himself as the most left-wing candidate in his southern Brooklyn City Council race.
“Igor Oberman purported to support me. In actuality, he was a ‘mole’ inside my campaign for Storobin,” Mr. Fidler charged. “I do not make such an accusation lightly. We knew at a point that information about our efforts with Russian speaking voters was leaking like a sieve within minutes and at a point we suspected the culprit. But the culprit revealed himself on election night, when Igor Oberman appeared at the Storobin victory party …. with his arms raised in triumph interlocked with Storobin.”
“Oberman has been paraded before you as if he is a paragon of progressiveness,” he continued in the June 25 missive, which can be viewed below, addressed to groups like the Working Families Party, Hotel Trades Council and LGBT-oriented political clubs. “He has high priced consultants in fancy suits. But you have been sold a bill of goods here. This is the same man who can embrace the most homophobic right wing effort in many a year … and not even have the integrity to do it openly.”
As evidence, Mr. Fidler pointed to a July 2012 contribution Mr. Oberman made to Mr. Storobin when he was up for re-election against conservative Democrat Simcha Felder. But the Oberman campaign strongly disputed Mr. Fidler’s claims.
“All of the claims in the letter are unsubstantiated,” said an Oberman spokeswoman. “Oberman was not at any time working for Storbin. He made a donation to Storobin when he was running against Simcha after Fidler’s campaign was long over.”
Mr. Fidler insisted that he had not endorsed a candidate in Mr. Oberman’s wide-open race for term-limited Councilman Michael Nelson’s seat, but said there were three good candidates and two “horrific” ones: Mr. Oberman and Mr. Storobin, now out of office and seeking a comeback.
The Oberman endorsers who received Mr. Fidler’s letter were mostly mum. The Working Families Party did not respond to a request for comment and the Hotel Trades Council declined to react. But Allen Roskoff, president of the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club–and a recipient of the Fidler letter–said he found the contents “very disturbing.”
“I responded to Lew, saying that I wanted some advice from him. what other clubs did,” Mr. Roskoff said. “I have to get an explanation from Igor. If Igor was at Storobin’s victory party that night, if that happened, that is very disturbing. But I have to talk to our officers–I can’t make a unilateral decision [to rescind the endorsement].”
Update (10:41 AM): Mr. Storobin issued a lengthy response to Mr. Fidler, accusing him of lying and trying to “destroy” him.
“There’s absolutely no truth to what Lew Fidler wrote. It was known that Igor and I know each other. Early in the campaign on January 19, 2012, he donated to me by coming to my fundraiser.
Lew Fidler tried to destroy me, but instead all his attacks only destroyed him. While we focused on issues and the differences between a conservative and a liberal candidate (which he found an outrage for some strange reason), he made up lies about me being a “tied to Nazis” (if I were tied to Nazis, I’d have been tied by the Nazis who’d then kill me for being a Jew and an outspoken Zionist), followed by repeated assaults by his paid agents against my mom including causing the biggest scandal in the history of the Russian-American community when they compared her to farm animals on live radio. His agents claimed that because I’m a criminal lawyer my “brain is defective” and that my brain changed through my affiliation with clients and is now “the same as murderers, rapists and drug dealers.”
Lew Fidler’s agents in the Russian media spent 8-10 hours EVERY day attacking me non-stop, with the radio station doing practically nothing except “Storobin is stupid, ugly and evil” programming from morning to night. There’s no way Fidler would’ve been able to get away with such viciousness had he not done it via a foreign-language media source that the FCC and the FEC don’t bother checking.
The result (according to an independent exit poll conducted by the Russian Division of the American Jewish Committee)? The Russian-Americans said that outrage at the negative attacks against me were a bigger reason for why they voted for me than any other issue or the fact that I’m a fellow Russian-American.
The day after the elections, the assaults continued for no apparent reason other than the bitterness of Fidler and his agents. The Fidler-paid radio declaring that my supporters are “pubic lice who need to be exterminated.” Talk about Nazi language in reference to a mostly Jewish crowd!
Nevertheless, I spent the following year trying repeatedly to rebuild my relationship with Fidler by calling him and by approaching him at all the events, but he remains a bitter man because when tried to destroy me, but he only destroyed himself.”
Update (12:57 PM): Mr. Fidler emailed a blistering rebuttal to Mr. Storobin, also attacking Mr. Oberman for “hiding behind” Mr. Storobin’s “skirt.”
“It is interesting that Igor Oberman had his sidekick David Storobin respond for him. I do not wish to rehash last year’s Senate race. Everyone who actually knows me I am at total peace with the results which may well have been best for me personally and politically. Mr. Storobin thinks that the conduct of his campaign should be personally excused because he utters a few words about my beloved NY Rangers, however wishes to repeat things that I had nothing to do with. The owners of the radio station in question very much dislike Mr. Storobin all by themselves. I too do not speak Russian and have only heard these accusations from Mr. Storobin. I would never countenance such venom and in fact, told Senate Democrats that they could not mail out a particular flyer on my behalf because I would rather lose than stoop to the level of that mailer. The “tied to Nazi’s” remark has been publicly explained many times and was not in fact a statement that Mr. Storobin was in any way a Nazi a topic too serious to be trivialized. On TV, I indicated that if anyone misinterpreted it that way, I apologized. So after Mr. Storobin’s brief and undistinguished career on the public dime all he has is the re-hash of the venom and vitriol of the most right-wing and homophobic campaign in recent history and three minutes of fame.
The real question is why is Mr. Storobin answering for Mr. Oberman? Does he deny being at the victory party when the results were not yet clear? Does he deny the campaign contribution? How could he present himself as a progressive when he supported this proudly right wing candidate? How can he be pro-labor when he supported a guy who didn’t even know what Tier 6 was? Those are the real questions and not the pablum from Mr. Storobin. Mr. Oberman should stop hiding behind his defender’s skirt.”
Read the full Fidler letter below, which blasts Mr. Oberman on a variety of other topics as well.