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Hold Weprin, Bearak accountable for controversial campaign flier

Last week, a special election was decided in the 24th State Assembly District, pitting me against David Weprin. The results of that election are now tarnished due to my opponent’s use of political hate mail tactics — specifically a disturbing flier that was timed to arrive in mailboxes four days prior to the election in which I had little or no time to respond.

The flier, approved by Weprin and mailed to thousands of voters in the district, associated my name with a crime scene, the word “extremist” and a Nazi swastika superimposed on it. Attacking my character, distorting my positions and defaming my reputation by sending a flier with Nazi symbolism to Jewish homes for political gain is repugnant.

As a civic leader, when I embarked on my political journey, I knew politics was a dirty business, but nothing prepared me for the vicious smear attacks and slanderous onslaught exhibited by my opponent.

I am labeled an “extremist” with Nazi symbolism because I had the audacity to say, “All crimes are hate crimes and all victims deserve equal protection under the law.” That is not an extremist position. Extremism is Photoshopping swastikas onto campaign literature and then mailing it to Jewish households. Extremism is using Nazi symbolism to exploit people’s pain and suffering for personal gain and political expediency. Extremism is saying you support hate speech laws and then using the very tactics that those laws seek to suppress.

Mailing political hate literature with Nazi imagery in a campaign is vicious and offensive to people of all religions. It goes beyond anything I have seen in a campaign and because I am Jewish, I also received it in the mail and was sickened by it, as was my father, a World War II veteran.

Weprin has yet to issue an apology for the hate mail flier. Instead, his campaign manager, Corey Bearak, continues to issue statements on Weprin’s behalf, vigorously defending it. Although the Weprin campaign address appears on the piece, the Weprin name was strategically left off.

Voters must also be held accountable and need to ask themselves why they are so willing to elect someone who would allow such a flier to be used and disseminated in the community. Are dynasty candidates simply immune from the rules of fair play unlike their challengers and given a free pass?

And will Weprin now reward Bearak, the architect of the piece, with an Assembly staff position? That would be a slap in the face to every civic leader that called for Bearak’s resignation from the presidency of the Queens Civic Congress and every district resident who found the flier to be offensive and vile.

As a civic leader and president of Glen Oaks Village, a multi-ethnic community of 10,000 residents, I have worked hard to unite people, not divide them. The hate speech tactics and politics of personal destruction chosen by Weprin to win an election at any cost and his inability to exercise sound judgment will always tarnish the election results for many in the community and especially the nearly 40 percent of the voters who chose to vote for the other candidate.

Bob Friedrich

Glen Oaks

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