Ball: We will not tolerate slander and defamation from a career politician.
The campaign office of Assemblyman Greg Ball (R, C, I – Patterson) announced that it has sent a Cease and Desist letter to Westchester County Legislator Tax Hike Mike Kaplowitz (WF, D – Katonah) and will proceed with a Defamation lawsuit if Tax Hike Mike does not publicly retract intentionally false statements and admit blatant wrongdoing by April 30. On April 14, Tax Hike Mike issued unsolicited statements to the press, accusing Ball of defrauding taxpayers and committing criminal violations with a government mail scheme.
“I will not engage in political games with a County Legislator and career politician from within my district,” Ball said. “The simple facts are that this man pulled a $38,000 price tag out of thin air and accused me of stealing it from my constituents. He did so only to advance his own political career, with complete disregard for the issues, the taxpayers, or the truth. And, he did so with complete disregard for the wide shadow these baseless allegations have cast on the employees of the 99th District Office, who would have needed to knowingly comply in the scheme Tax Hike Mike concocted.”
Ball added that he was disappointed by how certain press chose to cover this story.
“Weekly papers waited until deadline to contact my office for a quote,” Ball said. “The story was already written, and the truth was not going to change their headline. They gave me one hour to respond, and would not return phone calls. I understand the ‘Gotcha’ appeal of yellow journalism to sell papers, but the press who ran this story violated the public trust by printing erroneous numbers, fed to them by this irresponsible and malicious Legislator, as fact. We expect fairness from the press, not collusion.”
Under First Amendment protections, any defamation lawsuit by a public figure such as Ball would require an extra element, proof of malicious intent. Jim Coleman, Chief of Staff for Ball, says that malice is self-evident.
“The malice begins with the $38,000 price tag,” Coleman said. “That number exceeds Assemblyman Ball’s entire mail budget, including reply correspondence to the hundreds of constituents we hear from every month. That malice continues with the mailing process, which is controlled by the Majority in the Assembly. I cannot even get a key to my office door in Albany because Sheldon Silver hasn’t approved it. How is Tax Hike Mike going to accuse Greg Ball of sending campaign mail through a government permit when Silver needs to approve our mailing list and our message? I can’t get a key but I’m going to slip campaign mail by the majority? That doesn’t add up.”
All members of the Assembly use a “DIS” database of constituents from within the Assembly district for compiling a mailing list. The DIS database gathers information from the State Board of Elections, which can take several years to update. The inefficient system can lead to mail being sent to former or deceased constituents. Ball’s office requested updated records from Westchester, Putnam, and Dutchess Counties’ Board of Elections, which are much more accurate. Those county records were turned over to the Assembly by Ball, who requested that it be used to update and correct the DIS database for the 99th Assembly District. The Majority approved the new list but the Assembly failed to accurately implement the records, leading to a few hundred mail pieces sent outside Ball’s district.
“The government mail sent by Assemblyman Ball informs his constituents of the issues,” Coleman said. “He doesn’t send out puff pieces like his Assembly colleagues. He does not send a ‘Senate Report Card’ when he intends to run for Senate like the Legislator has done, or distribute government flyers outside the boundaries of his own body’s Ethics rules.”
Tax Hike Mike distributed government mail in June 2009 titled “Senate Report Card,” which is still available on the Westchester Board of Legislators web site. And, in 2003 Tax Hike Mike was exposed by Republican Mark Fang for distributing government flyers as a campaign asset. The distribution of those flyers violated the Ethics Rules of the Westchester County Board of Legislators by occurring during a campaign cycle.
“It seems that Tax Hike Mike operates on the assumption that he can attack his opponents for his sins, and the press will follow suit without further investigation. Because Tax Hike Mike spends with disregard for the taxpayers, everyone must spend with disregard for the taxpayers” Coleman said. “In fact, Greg Ball has a record of being the most efficient legislator in Albany, operating his office on a thrifty budget that has saved taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars over his tenure. He employs a staff that earns less and works more hours as a unit than individuals working for Tax Hike Mike. Tax Hike Mike employs political insiders and strategists at taxpayer expense. Greg Ball has Susie Keegan, a woman who climbed telephone poles for 30 years, who reached retirement age only to find she needed to go back to work if she wanted to stay in New York. Tax Hike Mike does not care about people like Susie Keegan, seniors who will be taxed out of their homes by his voting record.
“We demand, on behalf of our constituents, an apology and an admission of wrongdoing by Tax Hike Mike,” Coleman continued. “We demand that apology be made to the Assemblyman. If not, the Assemblyman fully intends to seek a legal course of action against Tax Hike Mike for his malicious, reckless, and intentionally false accusations.”
- Cease and Desist Letter
- Kaplowitz’s District
- Kaplowitz Accused of Violating Ethics Rule
- Screenshot: “Senate Report Card” as official government document
- Kaplowitz’s “Senate Report Card”
- Screenshot: Where was the “Senate Report Card” press conference
- Screenshot: Where was Kaplowitz’s “Senate: Get Back To Work” press conference held? Carmel.
- Where did Kaplowitz first use the Senate Report Card?
His Senate Campaign.