On Thursday, January 24, Suffern mayor and 2013 county executive candidate Dagan LaCorte (D), was dealt a major blow to his reputation in the eyes of many colleagues and potential supporters.
LaCorte had been busted sending a text message to his campaign manager Cristobal Slobodzian, asking that he secretly tape record a private conversation between Slobodzian and rival candidate former Spring Valley Justice David Fried. LaCorte got caught when somehow he sent the text message to Fried instead of Slobodzian.
On Thursday the Rockland County Times broke the story of LaCorte’s failed spying antics and it ultimately made regional headlines and was even linked to on some national websites.
On Thursday evening LaCorte called the press to a prescheduled fundraiser event and officially apologized to the public for his actions. He called the spy tactic a “mistake,” said there was no excuse for his action, and further stated he had learned his lesson.
Less than 24 hours after his apology LaCorte decided to up the ante, by contending in a press release that his mistake “obligates him to raise the level of discourse in what is already a rough and tumble campaign.”
Lacorte promised to support whoever wins the Democratic primary and then proposed campaign rules, which included a provision to not attack opponents or their supporters.
One of his opponents, Legislator Ilan Schoenberger, rebuffed LaCorte in an interview with the Rockland County Times. Asked if he found irony in LaCorte’s juxtaposition of proposing ethics rules a day after getting outed for spying, Schoenberger said,”I don’t think irony is the right word to describe it. I think it’s a lot of nerve and [an] attempt to divert attention away from him.”
LaCorte has also taken heat from across the aisle. GOP Chair Vinny Reda called on him to step out of the race and the sole announced GOP candidate for county exec Ed Day had this to say, “Given that everything he is saying that we all abide by as either existing law, or part of the ethical expectations overseen by the League of Women voters, the entire statement smacks of nothing more of political damage control.”
Day continued, “Frankly, I am absolutely incredulous that this statement is proffered right after he was caught spying on a candidate in a clear attempt to get ‘dirt’ on someone who he claims to be a ‘friend.’ I would suggest that Mr. LaCorte should reflect upon the error of his ways instead of trying to lecture the community on ethics. Frankly I find the entire episode quite disappointing.”
The rules proposed by LaCorte on Friday are:
· Establish a Fair Campaign Practices Board like in Westchester County to rule on the accuracy of mailings and TV ads
· Adopt the federal model with an additional quarterly campaign finance disclosure on April 15th so the public has information about candidate finances prior to party nominating conventions
· No personal attacks on candidates, their supporters or their constituencies
· Issues forums with press and public questions and answers in each of Rockland’s towns, starting in February. Each forum will focus on a different topic– taxes, environment, social issues, transportation and infrastructure, education and health care.