WAMC’s Allison Dunne interviews Pete Harckham
Sen. Terrence Murphy accused challenger Peter Harckham of allying with Soros funded hate groups.
BEDFORD, NY — Katonah resident George Soros was the first to receive one of the IEDs sent to Democratic leaders this week. And in a press release Wednesday on the topic of the pipe bombs, New York state Senator Terrence Murphy accused his opponent of links to “Soros funded and Antifa hate groups” and did not mention Soros being one of the bomb recipients.
As well as being a resident of Westchester County, Soros, 88, is one of the wealthiest men in the world and is one of the foremost promoters of international democracy.
So why, in a country where promoting democracy around the world has been a big deal for a century, has Soros been the fallback for just about every right-wing conspiracy theorist? And how did that kind of smearing become standard for the Republican Party?
According to multiple media reports, Russia and the military-industrial complex have been top reasons Soros conspiracy theorizing moved from the fringes to the mainstream.
Business Insider offered readers a comprehensive glance at the ideas that Soros has laid out in books, articles and interviews over years.
They point out the irony of right-wing accusations that Soros is an enemy of freedom, noting that “Soros directly aided the establishment of Eastern European democracy.” But they also point out that in his books and through his Open Society Foundations, Soros writes about and takes action on a number of progressive issues.
And one of them is an attack on modern capitalism, something Soros knows from the inside. “The Crisis of Global Capitalism” became an international bestseller and an instant classic, according to Amazon. Soros now argues that capitalism is a threat to open societies, NewsMax pointed out.
In addition to pointing out the problems of an unfettered free market, Soros is outspoken on the danger of corrupt alliances between government and business.
The first conspiracy theorists who targeted Soros were anti-Semitic eastern European leaders, CBS News said in an article Oct. 24.
But then the philanthropist opposed the administration of President George W. Bush, and right-wing extremist commentators such as Alex Jones became obsessed.
By the time of the 2016 elections, mainstream Republicans had picked up the cry.
Soros’s son Alexander wrote in The New York Times Wednesday about the hate spewed at his father escalating at that time.
“Before that, the vitriol [George Soros] faced was largely confined to the extremist fringes, among white supremacists and nationalists who sought to undermine the very foundations of democracy,” Alexander Soros wrote. “But with Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, things got worse.”
In 2016, the Trump campaign ran an anti-Semitic ad reminiscent of the 1930s saying a cabal of international bankers – picturing three Jewish financiers including Soros – have “bled our country dry.”
Then in 2017, Politico reported that the GOP was teaming up with Russia to oppose Soros. The campaign was led by Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey and included senators Ted Cruz of Texas, Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma and Mike Lee of Utah, who said they worried that Soros’s foundations were spreading liberal ideology. It was widely considered a Russian propaganda coup.
Soros is considered a threat by Russia because his foundation continues to work in Eastern Europe supporting democratic institutions in the former Soviet sphere of influence, according to BigThink.com.
President Trump has most recently accused Soros of supporting protests against Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s appointment to the Supreme Court and of funding the most recent caravan of Central Americans walking from Honduras to the U.S. border.
A Republican National Committee attack ad came out on Wednesdaycalling Soros “a radical.”
Locally, a Soros conspiracy theory was floated by the Murphy campaign Wednesday. The campaign sent out this press release:
Amid news of a potential terrorist ring or serial bomber mailing suspicious packages to elected officials, serious concerns were raised over the installation of a spy camera by State Senate candidate Peter Harckham’s campaign, just days after an individual was arrested for arson after burning lawn signs from the campaign of State Senator Terrence Murphy. Early Monday morning, a trail camera was found secured to a utility pole at the of the district office of Senator Murphy, where earlier, a paid protest group known as the “Missile Dick Chicks” had demonstrated on Harckham’s behalf.
“I am very disappointed to learn about the suspicious packages being delivered to former Presidents, members of Congress and the free press,” Senator Murphy said. “This is an attack on American institutions, and an attack on one of us is an attack on us all. We can all have our philosophical differences but we must respect each other as neighbors. No public figure, candidate or family should have to be worried about their safety. Whether sending suspicious packages, burning lawn signs, or spying on residents and staff, these types of tactics cannot be tolerated.”
This past weekend, arson charges were filed against Robert Steele, 38, a Peekskill resident who was caught by local police burning Murphy lawn signs along Route 6 in Cortlandt. State police observed a Murphy campaign sign on fire adjacent to a bee line bus stop, which was soon extinguished. A witness identified Steele, who was placed under arrested and processed. He is due in Cortlandt town court on November 1.
A week prior, the Harckham campaign directed a paid protest entourage known as the “Missile Dick Chicks” to Murphy’s government office, where the spy camera was installed. The obscene and radical group has been linked to Soros-funded and Antifa hate groups.
On Wednesday, Yorktown Police notified Senator Murphy’s government office that the Harckham campaign’s lawyer would come to retrieve the camera. After discussions with the landlord, he declined to press charges for unlawful surveillance, criminal tampering and trespassing.
“Their over-zealous volunteer who thought they could capture images of residents and my staff coming and going has learned their lesson and jailing them serves no real purpose,” Senator Murphy said. “These kinds of profane intimidation tactics are what people abhor. Folks, don’t mess with lawn signs, don’t be a dick chick, and don’t install spy cameras at your opponent’s office. Don’t be like Pete Harckham.”
The camera was not pointed at Murphy’s office but at a Harckham sign nearby that kept disappearing, Harckham campaign officials said. Over the course of the campaign thousands of dollars worth of their signs have been stolen, campaign officials said; they were trying to monitor some of them. They have filed police reports about all the stolen signs and they removed the camera.
“Regardless, connecting this skirmish over stolen signs to accusations of terrorism is way out of line,” Harckham campaign officials said.
A call for the state Legislature to pass stalled Child Victims Act.
SLEEPY HOLLOW – Gary Greenberg said the man who sexually abused him told him they were going on a tour.
His attacker was an orderly at a hospital where Greenberg’s father had surgery, he said. Greenberg, now 60, was a kid.
“It wasn’t a tour, it was a half hour of hell,” he told reporters at a news conference at Village Hall Tuesday. “Being hung over an elevator shaft, with my head down and my ankles bound, seeing a dark elevator shaft as a 7-year-old kid – no kid should go through that.”
Greenberg, founder of the Fighting For Children PAC, joined state Democratic Party candidates at the conference to call to extend the statute of limitations on child sexual abuse crimes in New York State.
State Senate candidate Pete Harckham, state Assemblyman Tom Abinanti and attorney general candidate Tish James bashed Senate Republicans, saying they’d blocked passage of a bill called the Child Victims Act.
The proposed law would increase the maximum age for a victim to file suit from 23 to 28, and to 50 for civil suits. The law would come with a one-year “look back” period when people of any age could come forward with a suit.
Several versions of the act have passed the Democrat-controlled state Assembly in recent years, but stalled in the state Senate, which has been run by Republicans and a now-defunct faction of breakaway Democrats called the Independent Democratic Conference.
James, who’s running against Republican Keith Wofford in the November election, said many sex-abuse survivors take years to reach a point where they are able to come forward with their claims.
“Our laws shift the burden, they put the burden on the survivor and it acts as a shield for abusers,” said James, who is the New York City public advocate. “The statute of limitations are just too narrow and they quite literally help abusers stay on the street and abuse additional children.”
Harckham pledged the act would become law within the first 30 days if Democrats take the Senate this election. He said the law would allow institutions that were aware of abuse but didn’t take action to bring offenders to justice would face financial penalties.
Advocates for the law said institutions such as the Catholic Church and the Boy Scouts should be held to task if they didn’t properly investigate or covered up child abuse allegations.
“This is not about protecting their bank accounts, this is giving voice to victims, this is about protecting victims,” he said. “And you know what? Shame on them, shame on them if they take a major hit in the pocketbook because only that is going to dissuade them and other organizations from perpetrating these offenses again.”
Harckham, a former county legislator, is running against state Sen. Terrence Murphy for the Senate’s 40th District, which includes parts of northern Westchester, Putnam and Dutchess counties.
Murphy said he co-authored what he called a compromise bill supported by Greenberg that would end the statute for criminal prosecutions and set up a state fund for victims. Murphy was behind legislation that blocked abusers from living within 1,500 feet of their victims.
“My heart breaks for Mr. Greenberg and all victims of abuse,” he said. “But we can’t have short memories. When the Democrats controlled the chamber the CVA bill didn’t see the light of day. Let’s stop playing politics with kids and get to a solution which we thought we had with the help of Mr. Greenberg.”
There has been a renewed focus on child sexual abuse cases after a Pennsylvania grand jury report this summer, which described allegations against more than 300 Catholic priests who had abused more than 1,000 minors over seven decades.
In New York, state Attorney General Barbara Underwood has subpoenaed all eight of New York’s Catholic dioceses as part of a major investigation into the handling of sex abuse. Her office has also created an online complaint center and a telephone hotline for victims and witnesses to come forward.
Election Day is Nov. 6.
A battle for a district that includes parts of northern Westchester, Putnam and Dutchess.
New York State Sen. Terrence Murphy engaged in “unfair” campaign practices in his race against Democrat Pete Harckham, a nonpartisan committee found.
The Westchester County Fair Campaign Practices Committee issued four findings in a report released Sunday, saying Murphy made unsubstantiated and misleading claims including a “knowing mischaracterization” of one of the committee’s previous rulings.
Murphy, a Yorktown Republican, is seeking his third two-year term in the Senate’s 40th District, which includes parts of northern Westchester, Putnam and Dutchess counties. Harckham, of Lewisboro, is a former county legislator and worked in the administration of Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
- Murphy’s campaign was found to be unfair for stating that Harckham was hired by the state due to connections with Joe Percoco, a top state official recently convicted of bribery. The campaign said the claim lacked a “factual basis” and was in violation of the committee’s principles.
- The committee found accusations unsubstantiated and misleading that Harckham was “double dipping” holding two “low show” jobs in the state simultaneously.
- The committee found Murphy’s campaign, through the state Republican Campaign Committee, misrepresented a previous finding by saying Harckham “lied.” Harckham had said Murphy was “The man who nominated him (Donald Trump) at the Republican National Convention.” In a previous ruling, the committee found that statement unfair because it wasn’t accurate – but it didn’t say Harckham lied.
- Murphy’s campaign was found unfair in alleging that Harckham voted to give millions of taxpayer dollars to a developer called Conifer and a nonprofit called A-Home for which Harckham once served as president. A-Home was not involved in the Conifer project, the committee stated, and said it was “not factual” to call the project “another conflict of interest scandal” regarding Harckham.
Murphy’s campaign has contends the final ruling was based on an inaccuracy that A-Home wasn’t involved in the Conifer project. A-Home Community was listed as the nonprofit for its project in media, but later changed its name to Allied Community Development.
The nonpartisan committee has the stated purpose to promote honesty and fairness in campaigns. Campaigns may choose to issue complaints to the committee, which may then rule on whether the complaints are fair or unfair.
Its rulings aren’t binding.
Rulings by FCPC Confirm Terrence Murphy’s Campaign Routinely Engaged in Unfair Campaign Practices
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.
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…”
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.
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.”
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.
Westchester Democratic lawmakers gathered last Friday in Ossining to highlight a $78 million funding shortfall in foundation aid for several area school districts.
As the Ossining School District continues to remain one of the lowest funded districts in the state, Democratic leaders stood outside Roosevelt Elementary School urging residents to vote blue in the Nov. 6 election with the hope of fixing the foundation aid formula and reducing the property tax burden.
“Ossining is one of the poster children for the shortage of foundation aid,” 40th Senate District candidate Peter Harckham said. “That shortfall needs to be made up in property taxes.”
Under the current formula, Harckham cited at least 19 school districts in Westchester and Putnam counties that aren’t receiving enough foundation aid funding and are currently owed $78 million from the state.
Last year, Ossining received an 8%, or $884,167 increase, only getting 44% of its allocation of aid, while nearly 275 districts throughout the state received more than 100% to 2,000% of their allocation. The increase brought the districts 2018-19 total to $11.9 million resulting in a $15 million gap of what is owed by the state.
According to the Campaign for Fiscal Equity, the Peekskill School District is owed $14.5 million, with the Lakeland School District owed $5.7 million and the Brewster School District short $4.3 million.
“When you have a random formula like this where some districts are funded appropriately, some are above the formula and some are far less, this inequity makes it very burdensome for property taxpayers,” Harckham said. “The educational mission of the state should be equal opportunity for every student regardless of the zip code they live in, and the same goes for taxpayers.”
Harckham noted that the Hendrick Hudson School District only receives 53% of foundation aid, the Pleasantville Union Free School District receives 58% and the Somers School Districts gets 52%.
Officials are confident residents will recognize the disparity and put Democrats in control of the state Senate, where Harckham and Senator David Carlucci (D-Clarkstown) believe they can resolve the hefty shortfall. Harckham added that he would like to see funding for full-day universal pre-K and other programs, accusing Republican incumbent Senator Terrence Murphy (R-Yorktown) of focusing his efforts on increasing charter school funding.
Assemblywoman Sandy Galef (D-Ossining) added that the discrepancy with foundation aid was caused by Republican senators. She said the Democratic-controlled Assembly continues to press for mandating more equitable aid for Westchester, but Senate Republican leaders have repeatedly voted it down.
“Unless we have a democratic Senate, we are not going to solve this problem of foundation aid,” Galef said. “It will help you as a taxpayer.”
County legislator Catherine Borgia (D-Ossining) said the problem with inequality has impacted residents for several years. She said the foundation aid formula is a “flawed system.”
“When schools are underfunded they are forced to make decisions that shortchange our children,” Borgia said. “People struggle to pay their property taxes and it is not fair for us to not receive the proper level of foundation aid.”