State Assembly candidate Bob Friedrich and his supporters are livid over a campaign piece from his opponent that hit mailboxes Thursday that painted Friedrich as an “extremist” who opposes “extra-tough criminal penalties” for hate crimes and used an image of two police officers behind crime scene tape with a swastika clearly visible in the center.
“It’s repugnant,” Friedrich said Friday. “Hateful campaign tactics like this, using Nazi propaganda with a swastika, really is offensive.”
The mailing was targeted to residents in the 24th Assembly District in northeastern Queens, where a special election Tuesday is scheduled to be held between Friedrich %u2013 a registered Democrat running on the Republican and Conservative lines %u2013 and former City Councilman David Weprin, a Democrat.
The mailing bears the return address of Weprin’s campaign headquarters, but it did not explicitly say it was sent out by Weprin.
But Corey Bearak, Weprin’s campaign manager, acknowledged sending it.He said the piece would have been sent from a different address if the campaign was trying to hide from the literature.
“Republican/Conservative candidate Bob Friedrich doesn’t believe that crimes driven by anti-Semitism or bigotry warrant extra-tough criminal penalties,” the mailing read. “When asking for the Republican Party’s support, he told them ‘all crimes are hate crimes.’ That’s outrageous. Friedrich is an extremist Republican who opposes gun control and would restrict a woman’s right to choose. He is out of touch with out community’s values.”
Included in the mailing was a photo of a crime scene with a spray-painted swastika %u2013 a Nazi symbol.
Friedrich, who like Weprin is Jewish, said the image was “offensive to all people.”
“To exploit these images, it’s really vile,” he said. “It goes beyond anything that I have ever seen in a campaign. I was sickened to my stomach when I saw it.”
State Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose), who is supporting Friedrich in the race, said he was disgusted by the mailing.
“The word is ‘despicable,’” he said. “It’s just outrageous to put a swastika in a crime scene and imply Friedrich %u2013 what’s [Weprin] saying, he’s a Nazi?”
Padavan said the wording in the mailer distorted Friedrich’s record, saying he does not oppose gun control and is pro-choice, although he is against late-term abortions.
Bearak stood by the piece.
“I think the intent was to focus on this extremist Republican-Conservative, totally out of touch with the community ... who opposes hate crimes,” he said.
“They could say whatever they want,” he said of Friedrich’s supporters. “The record is clear: He opposes hate crimes.”
Bearak said that Weprin’s parents had a swastika painted on their door when they first moved into the neighborhood.
“This is personal for this candidate,” he said. “You got to stand up against this stuff and [Friedrich] doesn’t get it.”
Padavan claimed Weprin’s campaign was trying to hide its involvement in the piece by not putting Weprin’s campaign committee on the flier, but Bearak said that was not the case.
“The voters, I would say, are rather intelligent,” Bearak said, noting that the campaign put out two other mailers recently — an introduction to Weprin and a comparison piece %u2013 with the same address.
Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz
©2010 Community News Group
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