Nonpartisan Committee Rules Murphy’s Attacks on Harckham Unfair

Rulings by FCPC Confirm Terrence Murphy’s Campaign Routinely Engaged in Unfair Campaign Practices

Westchester County Fair Practices Committee

A series of allegations made by Sen. Terrence Murphy against Pete Harckham, Democratic candidate for NY State Senate SD40, have been foundto be unfair by the Westchester County Fair Campaign Practices Committee (FCPC), the nonpartisan independent organization dedicated to promoting fair and honest political campaigns. Harckham filed a series of complaints against Murphy’s campaign, following statements and other communications alleging “double dipping,” corruption, lying and conflict of interest by Harckham, all of which were found to be unfair by the FCPC.

“These rulings by the FCPC confirm Terrence Murphy’s campaign routinely engaged in unfair campaign practices,” said Harckham. “He deliberately made unsubstantiated allegations and spread falsehoods in an attempt to distract the public from the real issues in this race such as women’s reproductive health, common sense gun safety, adequate school funding, justice for child abuse victims and other topics,” Harckham added, demanding that Murphy’s campaign “cease spreading falsehoods and issue an apology to the voters of this district immediately”.

The complete rulings of the FCPC are as follows:

COMPLAINT #1: Peter Harckham complains that the Murphy campaign and
its affiliates made the false statement that Peter Harckham was hired by
New York State because of the “connections with a top state official and fellow South Salem resident recently convicted of bribery, who was also the Governor’s
campaign manager” (i.e. Mr. Percoco), thereby making an argument of
corruption by association.

FINDING: UNFAIR

The statement made by Mr. Murphy’s campaign about Mr. Harckham’s attainment of positions is unsubstantiated as it lacks a factual basis. In addition, the statement is misleading. The statement implies corruption by association and is in violation of two of the Committee’s principles: “The candidate will not use or condone any campaign material or advertisement that misstates, misrepresents or distorts material fact or any communication that misleads the public” and “The candidate will neither engage in nor be involved with false or misleading attacks upon the character of an opponent…”

COMPLAINT #2: Peter Harckham complains that the Murphy campaign and its affiliates made the false and misleading statement that Peter Harckham had “two full time political patronage jobs at the same time” and “double-dipped” since he “collected more than $311,000 through these two low-show political jobs…”

FINDING: UNFAIR

The statement by Mr. Murphy’s campaign that Peter Harckham was “double dipping”, holding “two full time, low-show jobs” at the same time is misleading and unsubstantiated.

COMPLAINT #3: Peter Harckham complains that Terrence Murphy, through the New York State Senate Republican Campaign Committee, is repeating an unfair campaign practice that the Fair Campaign Practices Committee had previously found as “Unfair.” Specifically, in two Facebook ads dated October 8, 2018, Senator Murphy makes reference to “Pete Harckham who was caught lying by the Fair Campaign Practices Committee” and to “Pete Harckham who the Fair Campaign Practices Committee ruled lied.” This mischaracterization of the FCPC’s finding had been previously found “unfair” by the FCPC.

FINDING: UNFAIR

This knowing mischaracterization of the finding by the Fair Campaign Practices Committee at its June 18, 2018 meeting remains an unfair campaign practice. As noted previously, the use of the word “lied”, instead of the wording from the Committee – “the statementis inaccurate” – is in violation of one of the Committee’s principles: “The Committee considers selective quotation or misrepresentation of its findings to be an unfair campaign practice.”

COMPLAINT #4: Peter Harckham complains that Senator Murphy falsely alleges that Mr. Harckham “…voted to give millions of taxpayer dollars to Conifer the construction company and A-Home, a non-profit that Harckham previously served as president of.” Mr. Harckham complains that Mr. Murphy’s statement that A-Home was involved in this project, and his implication of a conflict of interest on the part of Mr. Harckham, is not factual, as well as the statement that “this is just another conflict of interest scandal regarding State Senate candidate Peter Harckham.”

FINDING: UNFAIR

Mr. Harckham was president of A-Home, but Allied Community Enterprises, not A-Home, was involved with the Conifer project, and therefore the statement is false. Also, to state that this is “another conflict of interest scandal regarding State Senate candidate Peter Harckham” is not factual. Both statements are in violation of two of the Committee’s principles: “The candidate will not use or condone any
campaign material or advertisement that misstates, misrepresents or distorts material fact or any communication that misleads the public” and “The candidate will neither engage in nor be involved with false or misleading attacks upon the character of an opponent…”

The purpose of the Westchester County Fair Campaign Practices Committee is to help set an acceptable standard for political discussion by offering a forum for identifying unfair campaign practices and promoting a climate in which candidates conduct honest and fair campaigns. The Committee encourages Candidates to conduct campaigns openly and fairly, to focus on issues and qualifications, to refrain from dishonest and defamatory attacks, and to avoid the use of campaign materials that distort the facts.