EASTCHESTER, N.Y. - Incumbent County Legislator Sheila Marcotte (R,C, District 10) and her opponent Democrat John Fitzpatrick recently faced off with each other about campaign practices.
Both candidates brought complaints to the Westchester County Fair Campaign Practices Committee, a 14 member committee comprised of representatives from each party.
Fitzgerald filed three complaints against Marcotte. The committee made no ruling on one, found one to be a fair practice and the third was agreed upon by Marcotte and the committee to be unfair.
In the first complaint, Fitzpatrick said that Marcotte sent out a campaign email blast from her government email, a practice Fitzpatrick deemed unfair, deceptive and unlawful. The committee issued a no finding on that complaint citing its inability to enforce election law or make decisions as to that law.
On the second complaint Fitzpatrick said that on election material Marcotte handed out, there was no indication of who paid for the card. Marcotte agreed that information had been inadvertently left off the card.
In the final complaint, Fitzpatrick claimed that Marcotte made inaccurate statements in the palm card about how she had "led the charge to fight spending." The committee said making statements of that nature were within the realm of political discourse and deemed fair.
Matthew Richter, spokesperson for the Republican caucus on the County Board of Legislators, said that these kinds of issues are typical in campaigns. But Marcotte indicated that she takes the word of the committee seriously.
"I'm gratified that the committee confirmed my statement that I lead the fight against the Democrats in the supermajority when they put more than a million dollars in pork into the budget last year," Marcotte said. "I'm most happy that we can now move past this political 'he said, she said' and get on with the business of addressing voters' real concerns."
Efforts to reach John Fitzpatrick for comment were unsuccessful.
According to its mission statement, the committee has no power to compel anyone to stop doing what it has found unfair. If the committee acts on a complaint, it will only go as far as generating a release of its findings to inform the public.
The committee's mission statement further notes that the purpose of the committee is to promote a climate in which candidates conduct honest and fair campaigns. The committee encourages candidates to conduct campaigns openly and fairly, to discuss issues, to refrain from dishonest and defamatory attacks, and not to use campaign materials that distort the facts.
Finally, the committee does not sit as a censor of political discussion nor as a body to enforce election law or make legal decision, according to its mission statement. Its' task is to accept written complaints about alleged unfair campaign practices and to determine whether the action complained about is indeed unfair. Among other things, the committee will consider unfair any campaign practice that is a misstatement of a material fact or that misleads the public.
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