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Maltese’s tactics come under fire

City Councilman Joseph Addabbo's (D-Howard Beach) state Senate campaign lashed out against a "legally questionable" mailer it contended was sent out anonymously over the weekend on behalf of state Sen. Serphin Maltese (R-Glendale).

The literature did not indicate that it was paid for by Maltese's or any other campaign, according to Addabbo campaign spokeswoman Alexis Grenell.

It took quotes from Addabbo's former primary opponent, Ozone Park attorney Albert Baldeo, who said the councilman was "reckless" and "perverted."

Baldeo, who came within 8 percentage points of defeating Maltese in 2006, withdrew from the primary race late last month and threw his support behind Addabbo, citing party unity.

In a statement, Baldeo said his comments were made during the primary campaign and were not relevant to Addabbo's record or reputation.

"Maltese is running scared and he should be," Baldeo said. "Now that the Democratic Party is united, it's going to take every dirty trick and dollar the Republicans have to erase 40 years of fiscal mismanagement and corruption."

A Republican Senate Campaign Committee spokesman, speaking on behalf of Maltese, said the mailer did not break any laws.

Grenell said the mailer was "legally questionable" because while state law technically does not bar anonymous campaign literature, she said the spirit of the law is designed to support full disclosure.

Jerry H. Goldfeder, an election law instructor at Fordham Law School, said there is no statutory requirement in state law that specifies what kind of language has to be placed on fliers. But he said federal laws bar anonymous mailers and the spirit of the state law forbids it.

"Hyper-technically, it's not illegal," Goldfeder said, "but it violates the spirit of the election law."

Grenell said the campaign investigated the mailer and found that its permit was registered to Albany-based Brigar Express Solutions Inc., which she said was a mail house for the Republican Senate Campaign Committee.

The campaign committee's spokesman, Joe Conway, said the mailer was perfectly legal as long as it is reflected in expenditures in the next campaign finance filing.

"The mailing follows all rules and guidelines," he said.

Grenell said Maltese was "basically having the Republicans do his dirty work for him" by not attaching his name to the flier.

Conway called the comment "ridiculous."

"The bottom line is that this was a simple and straight-forward mailing," he said.

"These are not our words, these are words that come from Mr. Baldeo. Baldeo has, in fact, used terms like 'reckless' and 'perverted' to describe Joe Addabbo," Conway said.

Grenell said Addabbo will not file a complaint against Maltese because it would detract from the campaign.

"It's kind of petty to do that," she said. Addabbo "wants to talk about the issues."

Addabbo's campaign against Maltese, who has been in office for 20 years, is considered a top priority for Democrats, who are looking to take control of the Senate for the first time in 41 years.

Republicans currently hold a one-seat majority in the chamber.

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 173.

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