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Councilman calls Meng dual citizen

City Councilman Dan Halloran (l.) has gotten flak from state Assemblywoman Grace Meng for comments made about ethnicity and Meng's background.
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City Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone) drew sharp criticism from his opponent over recent statements he made about her citizenship.

In an Aug. 21 interview with The Times of Israel, a Jerusalem-based online news publication, Halloran referred to Meng as a “Chinese National” in the piece, and said he suspected her of having dual citizenship. Meng was born in Corona and raised in Bayside, has never visited mainland China and does not hold dual citizenship, her camp said.

Halloran also accused Meng of running an “ethnocentric campaign” focusing on Chinese voters.

Meng’s campaign blasted the comments.

“True to form, Dan Halloran has abandoned the issues in favor of a campaign rooted in bigotry, fear and lies — a desperate approach for a Tea Party Republican who cannot otherwise win on the issues,” spokesman Austin Finan said. “The xenophobic undertones and outright racism found in Mr. Halloran’s words is appalling and offensive.”

A spokesman for Halloran denied that the councilman said those things, although the Times of Israel quoted him directly in both instances, and contended that his comments on ethnocentricism only meant that he would try to reach out to all ethnicities in the district.

“He points out that Assemblywoman Meng is popular and well-known in her neighborhood in Flushing and she is going to do well there,” said Steven Stites, Halloran’s spokesman.

Things further heated up when the conservative lawmaker appeared at a Republican club in Suffolk County Aug. 23 and discussed the recent indictment of Meng’s father, Jimmy Meng. The video was first posted on the New York Observer’s politics blog.

Jimmy Meng is a former Flushing assemblyman charged with wire fraud after authorities contended he accepted an $80,000 bribe from a government informant in July. Meng’s father told the informant the bribe could get rid of a pending case in the Manhattan district attorney’s office, according to the FBI.

“Who would he have gone to to do that, because he is not an elected official?” Halloran, with mock curiosity, asked the crowd at the Conservative Society for Action in West Islip, L.I., insinuating the Meng might have had some involvement. She has not been linked in any way to her father’s alleged crimes.

At the same meeting, Halloran charged that Meng’s father bundled $450,000 for her campaign, although Meng’s camp has not released any information on her bundlers.

“Dan Halloran simply makes things up and believes them as fact,” Finan said. “Voters are surely disturbed by an elected official who is so blinded by his racism and misguided by his delusions.”

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at januta@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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