NEW YORK (Oct. 11)
The newly elected chairman of Long Island’s Suffolk County Conservative Party apologized, but did not take responsibility, for a letter sent to voters urging them not to support two Jewish candidates for judgeships.
The chairman, Pasquale Curcio, and his vice chairman, John Andrew Kay, instead accused a former party chairwoman and political rival, Elaine Leirer, of writing the letter.
Leirer denied the charges, and accused Curcio and Kay of trying to discredit her.
Curcio offered his apology after demands by the American Jewish Congress that his party disavow a letter sent to at least a dozen party members before the September primary.
The letter was sent on plain stationery reading “Official Announcement from the Chairwoman.”
It urged members not to vote for David Freundlich and Morton Weissman, candidates for, respectively, Family and County Court judgeships, because they are Jewish.
“Do not let the Jews run Suffolk County,” the letter read. “Stay with the chairwoman. Reject Jew lovers Curcio and Kay.”
The letter also attacked a Jewish town supervisor and town attorney.
Both Freundlich and Weissman won the primary.
Curcio said the letter “turns my stomach.”
“The Conservative Party is not anti-Semitic and we had nothing to do with that,” he continued.
William Rapfogel, executive director of the Metropolitan Region of AJCongress, called the letter “criminal” and “morally repugnant.”
Rapfogel said the organization will meet with the Suffolk County district attorney to help in investigating the letter.
DIRTY POLITICS IN FLORIDA
The Suffolk case echoed another that took place in August in Florida’s Sarasota County.
In that incident, nine candidates for various county offices signed a pledge acknowledging belief in “the supremacy of Jesus Christ” as a criterion for holding public office.
The signings took place at a forum conducted by “We the People,” a one-man organization in Venice, Fla.
The organization’s leader, Scott Carter, claims that the Constitution is a Christian document and that the principle of separation of church and state is a myth.
Angry protests by various interreligious and intergroup organizations, including the Sarasota-Tampa chapter of the American Jewish Committee, the Baptist Joint Committee on Public Affairs, the Interfaith-Interracial Council and the Sarasota Ministerial Council, led eight of the candidates to withdraw their signatures from the document.
One of those candidates, Bob Anderson, was elected to county commissioner.
However, in a separate campaign by “We the People,” at least 70 people have signed a similar declaration pledging to run for local precinct chairmen, in order to form a majority in the Republican Executive Committee in Manatee and Sarasota Counties.
AJCommittee said it will closely monitor those elections.