City Councilwoman Helen Sears (D-Jackson Heights) said Tuesday that she could not understand why supporters of her opponent, Danny Dromm, held a protest outside her office last week where attendees claimed she had not denounced an anonymous mailing attacking Dromm, because she released a statement condemning the apparent smear campaign two days earlier.
The mailing, sent to TimesLedger’s office about two months ago and disseminated throughout the Council district, contained Dromm’s arrest record, including charges of prostitution from 1972 and driving under the influence of alcohol in 1988.
Sears said she spoke out against the mailing before the Aug. 9 protest.
TimesLedger did not reach out to Sears in a timely enough manner last week for her to give her side of the story on the protest.
“I actually received a thank you from the Empire State Pride Agenda, so I don’t know what that protest was about,” she said in a phone interview this week.
When asked if she knew Dromm was aware of her repudiation of the mailing, Sears said, “Everybody saw our statement.”
Dromm campaign spokesman Bryan Collinsworth said the campaign first learned of Sears’ denunciation the day after the protest and was not aware that she had spoken out against the mailing before then.
Sears campaign spokesman Erik Joerss said he was not buying the Dromm campaign’s story.
“This fits in with a pattern of lies being told by the Dromm campaign,” he said.
Joerss said statements were sent via e-mail Friday at around 5:30 p.m. to the Gay City News, which wrote an editorial about the mailing, and Saturday to the Empire State Pride Agenda.
Collinsworth said there were no employees at the Gay City News and Empire State Pride Agenda offices when the statements were sent.
Gay City News Editor-in-Chief Paul Schindler said he left the office shortly after 5 p.m. the day the statement was sent and did not see it until he returned to work Monday. He said nobody else at the newspaper could have seen the e-mail Friday because it was only sent to his address.
“I didn’t see it, it was after my deadline and that’s how it went,” he said. “On a close call, they missed the deadline.”
Schindler noted the editorial was revised after he received the statement from the Sears campaign.
The Empire State Pride Agenda could not be reached to verify Collinsworth’s account that nobody was in their offices Saturday.
“Who’s working at the Empire State Pride Agenda to see that?” Collinsworth asked of the statement e-mailed to the nonprofit over the weekend. “The fact is that Helen Sears had since” Aug. 5, when NY1 asked her for comment on the mailing, “to issue that statement and they didn’t do so until after everyone went home for the weekend,” he said.
Collinsworth said Dromm, an openly gay man, had not yet come out as homosexual when he was arrested for prostitution.
Dromm was kissing a man in his car when an officer pulled him over and Collinsworth said Dromm told the cop he was a prostitute because he feared being institutionalized or assaulted if he said he was gay.
Dromm ultimately pleaded down to disorderly conduct in that case.
Sears said she has a long history of working with the LGBT community and noted she was endorsed by LGBT groups for re-election in 2005.
She also signed on to the Hate Crimes Resolution Act in the Council in 2007.
Sears said she also supported Dromm when he was running for district leader.
“Danny had tremendous support from me,” said Sears, who said she had “longstanding stature in the gay community” before Dromm became a district leader.
Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz
©2009 Community News Group
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