Frank Gordon, Democratic candidate for Town/Village of Harrison Supervisor/Mayor filed an unfair campaign practices complaint last week against the Belmont Team consisting of Republican candidates Ronald Belmont (incumbent candidate for Supervisor/Mayor), Fred Sciliano (candidate for Town/Village Council), Carlo Riccobono (candidate for Town/Village Council) and Jackie Greer (candidate for Town/Village Clerk). The complaint, which was upheld by the Fair Campaign Practices Committee during a meeting on Nov. 2, asserted that The Belmont Team campaign repeatedly misled voters through uses of images of other elected officials in campaign materials, including photos with Congresswoman Nita Lowey, giving the false impression that the Congresswoman and others supported Belmont in his bid for re-election. This activity was determined to be “unfair.”
Frank Gordon attended and represented himself before the Committee. Belmont did not attend and did not have a representative at the meeting.
The FCPC’s Principles and Guidance state, “The candidate will not use or condone any campaign material…that misleads the public,” and “A candidate may not alter materials … created in different circumstances in such a way as to convey a false impression.” The use of the photograph with US Congresswoman Nita Lowey as the profile photo on Mr. Belmont’s Twitter account violates the FCPC’s Principles and Guidance. In using an image of a candidate with another public figure in campaign materials, including social media accounts, the candidate should ensure that the context in which the photo was taken is clearly and factually conveyed. It is critical that the image not be used out of context or with no context provided.
Gordon also claimed that Belmont and The Belmont Team campaign have appropriated preexisting social media accounts in order to create the false appearance of support for or interest in the slate of candidates.
The FCPC found that there was inadequate information available to the Committee and therefore the Committee could not find for or against either party regarding this complaint.