WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. – Assemblyman Robert Castelli (R, C-Goldens Bridge) and his Democratic challenger, David Buchwald, have both engaged in unfair campaign practices, the Westchester County Fair Campaign Practices Committee has ruled.
Castelli, who represents District 93, and Buchwald both filed complaints with the committee last month. The district includes Bedford, Harrison, Lewisboro, Mt. Kisco, New Castle, North Castle, North Salem, Pound Ridge and parts of White Plains.
Buchwald filed two complaints, both of which were upheld.
His first complaint centered on an Aug. 8 press release from Castelli’s office that began with the headline, “As crime spikes 50 percent in White Plains. ...” The release continued, “Since David Buchwald has served on the White Plains City Council, violent crime in White Plains has risen 50 percent.”
Buchwald contended that the report used statistics for all crimes, including non-violent property crime, to support the claim. The committee ruled the press release employed unfair campaign practices because the statistics cited mixed violent and non-violent crimes and used different sources, which it said was “false and misleading.”
Buchwald’s second complaint was spurred by a press release that quoted an “expert” who claimed that Buchwald was “soft on crime.” The committee determined that the “expert” was Castelli, not a neutral party, and ruled the release was unfair and the statement misleading.
Castelli filed five complaints against Buchwald, four of which were upheld.
Castelli complained that Buchwald’s campaign website, as well as a Facebook statement, contained false and misleading information by stating that "My opponent has voted against common sense gun safety reforms like prohibiting domestic violence offenders from possessing a gun."
The committee ruled this unfair because the specific bills in question would have expanded the definition of serious offenses and added to the categories of people already legally prevented from acquiring guns in domestic violence situations. While Castelli did in fact vote against those bills, the committee ruled that Buchwald’s statement was overreaching and therefore misleading.
Castelli also complained that Barry Caro, a spokesperson for the Buchwald campaign, told the Chappaqua Patch, "We're glad that Assemblyman Castelli acknowledges that he voted to allow someone convicted of domestic violence to possess a gun.”
The Committee ruled this “unfair” saying that Castelli affirmed that he voted against the bills in question, but did not “acknowledge” that he "voted to allow someone convicted of domestic violence to possess a gun."
Castelli further complained that various other statements made by Buchwald to the press were false and misleading. These included a statement to the Chappaqua Patch that Castelli “has voted to allow dangerous criminals to have guns," and to The Examiner that "It's truly mind-boggling that Robert Castelli voted to allow people convicted of domestic violence to buy a gun."
The committee ruled the statements were unfair campaign practices because they were overreaching and therefore misleading.
Castelli also complained that Buchwald intentionally misrepresented the Domestic Violence Escalation Prevention Act by claiming the bill would ban domestic violence offenders from purchasing or possessing firearms, when it does not. The headline for Buchwald's release said: "Buchwald ... blasts Castelli for voting to allow domestic violence abusers to buy guns."
The committee also ruled this unfair because it was overreaching and misleading.
The Westchester County Fair Campaign Practices Committee was created to promote a climate in which candidates conduct honest and fair campaigns. It does not enforce election law or make legal decisions and has no power to compel anyone to stop doing what it has found it be unfair.