The opposing slates in this year’s New Castle election have accused each other of unethical action for the mass transmission of unsolicited campaign-related messages.
Scores of town residents have been troubled by the influx of e-mail blasts from Team New Castle, and have questioned whether its candidates, Supervisor Robert Greenstein and council members Lisa Katz and Adam Brodsky, had used the e-mail list of the town’s e-newsletter.
The matter, which has been the source of social media discussion in recent weeks, erupted last Wednesday night during the League of Women Voters debate at the Chappaqua Public Library.
“They’ve been using the vendor of the town e-mail list that sends out the town e-mails,” Democratic challenger for Town Board Gail Markels said during the Oct. 25 debate. “They’re paying them separately and that vendor is sending out the political e-mails. That’s the truth.”
Markels called using the town’s e-mail list an ethical violation.
“Wow, that’s a huge accusation,” Brodsky responded before the debate moderator regained control of the forum.
The following evening large groups of town residents reported receiving a personalized text message from the Working Families Party on behalf of Kristen Browde, who is challenging Greenstein on the Democratic ticket for supervisor.
Greenstein said Team New Castle has been using e-mails that the three candidates have acquired through their personal accounts, not the town list. They are also using Taikun, the same vendor that dispenses the town e-mail blasts.
The campaign has “absolutely, 100 percent” not used the town e-mail list, Greenstein said.
He then charged that the text message is flap is far more serious because the mass, personalized message to perhaps hundreds of residents at the same time last Thursday could have run afoul of FCC law.
“The is the type of stuff that happens on the national level,” Greenstein said. “I know now that it doesn’t really fly in our community. People are offended by it.”
One of Browde’s running mates, Ivy Pool, said she was deeply troubled by the text message.
“I’m shocked and frankly appalled that the text messages were sent out,” Pool said. “I never would have anticipated that – or the e-mails.”
Katz said with the amount of money the New Castle Democratic slate has raised in this campaign it’s not surprising.
“I think our opponents are very well-funded and they’re getting a lot of money from outside sources, and when you bring in outside political influences and you have paid advisers running your campaigns, they do a lot of this that maybe shouldn’t be done in a local election,” Katz said.
Pool said the difference is that once Browde learned of the texts she reached out to the Working Families Party and demanded they be stopped. That has not occurred with their opponents, she said.
Meanwhile, plenty of residents, including many Democrats, believe that the Team New Castle campaign of Greenstein, Brodsky and Katz continue to use the town e-mail list.
Michael Weinberg, a Democratic district leader, said suspicions were raised because on the Team New Castle disclosure forms, payments totaling $1,267.50 have been sent to a Derek Miller at his home address in Haddonfield, N.J. for “website updates.”
A search of Miller’s LinkedIn profile reveals that he’s the digital marketing manager for Taikun.
Campaign payments were also found to have been sent to a Michael Clair in 2015 totaling $1,950. At the time, Clair was marketing director for Taikun.
Weinberg said he knew Greenstein from when he created the Chappaqua-Millwood Chamber of Commerce so he could have landed on his e-mail list. But Weinberg’s wife, who he described as apolitical, began receiving the same Team New Castle messages. She did not sign up for Team New Castle blasts, he said, but does subscribe to the town e-newsletter.
“Either there’s a conflict of interest or they’re using the same list,” Weinberg said.
Greenstein dismissed the allegations on Monday, calling their opponents’ conclusions “pure speculation.”
He said that since the account was created, the Team New Castle subscriber list has accumulated 6,477 subscribers. Meanwhile, the Mail Chimp summary for the town e-newsletter currently has 8,040 subscribers.
Martin has more than 30 years experience covering local news in Westchester and Putnam counties, including a frequent focus on zoning and planning issues. He has been editor-in-chief of The Examiner since its inception in 2007. Read more from Martin’s editor-author bio here. Read Martin’s archived work here: https://www.theexaminernews.com/author/martin-wilbur2007/