Is it really possible for a political candidate to call his opponent an “asshole” and then back that up with documentation? Of course not. There’s a clear difference between a well-supported case against a person’s character and an insult.
But the Westchester group that polices candidates for unfair campaigning, the Fair Campaign Practices Committee, ruled this week that’s it’s okay — “based upon the totality of the information and documentation submitted” — to call Bob Cohen a “slumlord”.
You don’t have to be a fan of Republican Bob Cohen, running for the State Senate in a gerrymandered district designed by state Republicans to give them another seat in Albany, to think this ruling is bullshit. But it’s not unusual. The FCPC often issues arbitrary black/white findings without revealing much about its deliberations.
If the FCPC doesn’t recognize an insult when it sees one, it should get out of the fact-checking business.
What are the facts? Bob Cohen owns apartment buildings in NYC that have been sited for gambling, drug dealing, mice, and roaches. The NYPD has been involved. Ok, that’s not great, and fair game in a tight campaign. But a mailing from Cohen’s opponent, Democrat George Latimer, drops the word “slumlord” to describe Cohen right up front. Cohen complained to the FCPC, and the FCPC ruled the use of the word “fair”.
Now Latimer’s campaign — obviously gleeful — gets to call their opponent “Slumlord Bob Cohen” in every statement for the next two weeks.
If the FCPC doesn’t recognize an insult when it sees one, it should get out of the fact-checking business. (And candidates should think about boycotting the FCPC, to stop puffing up this bullshit.)