Did Hynes compare opponent to a criminal?

Brooklyn Currents | 10/20/2013 | 0 comments

From NY1 and Brooklyn Currents

At a recent news conference on collaring a gun smuggler,  Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes made what his reelection campaign now calls an off-the-cuff joke.

 Ken Thompson -- who beat  Hynes in the Democratic primary -- isn't  laughing.

DA Charles Hynes and campaign poster
When asked where the gun smuggler lived and if he had a job, Hynes responded, "What are we talking about, my opponent?"

Thompson supporters say the remark was racist and that it  compared Thompson to a criminal.

"DA Hynes' general election campaign is premised on an unfounded allegation largely designed to scare white people," said City Councilman Brad Lander.

Hynes is running as a Republican and Conservative  -- although he says he's a true Democrat, is running on the GOP ticket simply to seek re-election, and that the Republicans are fully aware of that.

His campaign says the remark was not racist.

"Anyone who took that as a racist remark and took that as the DA calling Ken Thompson a criminal is really totally misunderstanding," said Jerry Schmetterer, Hynes' campaign spokesman.

But  Thompson said  the remark was insulting -- and intentional.

"That is something that shouldn't happen," he said. "It shows his utter desperation to cling to power. It shows that he can't deal with the fact that he lost [the primary] and it wasn't even close."

Thompson supporters say they're also outraged by a Hynes campaign flyer that reads in part, "District Attorney Charles Hynes put corrupt political boss Clarence Norman in jail. His opponent let convicted felon Clarence Norman run his campaign. Don't let a convicted felon run the district attorney's office."

Thompson denies Norman ran his campaign.

The Hynes campaign  said the flyers wouldn't be distributed any longer.

"The DA did not mean they were racist. A lot of people will look at them and say that they weren't racist. But they seem to offend some people, they are gone," Schmetterer said.

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Here's an excerpt from a recent Village Voice article on the Hynes-Thompson feud:

..... Hynes slammed Thompson's inexperience, and then accused his opponent of having a convicted felon involved in his campaign. "And lying about it," Hynes declared. "I don't think the people of Brooklyn want a DA who is beholden to a corrupt machine boss ex-con." Hynes suggested that this was the reason he decided to contest the general election.

That man is Clarence Norman, the former Brooklyn Democratic Party chairman and state assemblyman who Hynes once supported. But about a decade ago, Hynes launched a multi-year campaign to bring him down, successfully prosecuting him three times, gaining three convictions. The most recent took place in February 2007, when Norman was convicted of grand larceny and extortion for coercing two judicial candidates to hire certain campaign consultant or lose his support.

Thompson's campaign has repeatedly denied that Norman was involved in the campaign in any way. ("How do you disprove a lie," one Thompson operative says.)

"Ken Thompson is the only one still saying Norman wasn't involved," said Brad Gerstman, a Hynes campaign spokesman.

Meanwhile, the Thompson campaign has pointed out that one of Hynes's campaign advisers is himself a convicted felon.

That man is Taharka Robinson, a son of former state Assemblywoman Annette Robinson. As a young man, Robinson served three years in prison for assault and robbery, records show. Robinson also used to be a protege of Norman's, and got caught up in Hynes's investigation of the Democratic party boss.

Specifically, Robinson was one of the people Hynes investigated for taking $100,000 in campaign consulting fees from a judicial candidate running unopposed. (Robinson was never charged.)

In sum: Hynes is Norman's buddy, then investigates him and gets him convicted, then hires a Norman protege to run his campaign who he had previously investigated, then accuses Thompson of hiring Norman. Got it so far?

"This hypocrisy is not surprising," a Thompson campaign spokesman said.

Gerstman declined to comment on the Robinson charge, saying he was not familiar with it.
If Hynes initially intended not to run a negative campaign, Hynes Deux has gone the other way. Consider this tweet sent out by Gerstman: "Thompson wants to dismantle all the renowned progressive services Hynes for DA started."

However, Thompson told reporters that he would merely look at the Hynes programs, rather than "dismantling" all of them. Indeed, why would Thompson want to dismantle programs so widely appreciated in the borough?

On Twitter, Gerstman describes himself as a lawyer, lobbyist, politico and best selling author of "What Men Want," which is subtitled "Three Professional Single Men Reveal to Women What Takes to Make a Man Yours."

Other Gerstman tweets: "Integrity? Clarence Norman? Come on. Get real." "Pls Explain how Ken Thompson is real leadership."

"We need to re-educate the voter," Gerstman told the Voice. "The feedback has been tremendous. We've seen a large volume of buyer remorse. Thompson has no experience and nothing notable in his career and he's not qualified to be the top elected official in a borough of 2.5 million people."

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