Assemb. Michael Fitzpatrick, a longtime supporter of Patrick Vecchio, said he is “miffed” the embattled Smithtown supervisor used an endorsement quote from him in an otherwise negative campaign piece.
“I would have never approved being part of this mailing,” said Fitzpatrick. He said he had been in Italy for 12 days for his son’s wedding, and was never consulted by Vecchio’s campaign.
Fitzpatrick, a St. James Republican, said the endorsement quote came from a four-year-old positive campaign piece when Vecchio was involved in a supervisor primary against then-town board member Robert Creighton.
The Vecchio attack piece used pictures of convicted ex-Conservative leader Edward Walsh, labeled town GOP leader Bill Ellis a “rogue Republican boss” and attacked town Clerk Vinnie Puleo and Vecchio’s supervisor foe Edward Wehrheim, a town board member.
The headline urged, “break the grip of boss-controlled political forces.” Separately, just below the headline, Fitzpatrick is quoted as “eager to cast my for Pat Vecchio.”
Fitzpatrick said he would have been happy to have been part of a positive Vecchio campaign mailing. But he said including him was an attempt to give the attack piece “a legitimacy it did not deserve.”
Fitzpatrick, who returned home late Thursday, said he was unaware of the mailing until he began getting calls from supporters on Saturday. “The right thing wasn’t done here,” he said. “It was done in an underhanded way.”
Vecchio did not return calls for comment.
Puleo said Fitzpatrick should have acted sooner. “I would have expected a news conference on the steps of town hall denouncing this. It’s too little, too late.”
Ellis would not say whether he accepted Fitzpatrick’s explanation, but added, “It’s beyond comprehension that a man who has served 30 years in elected office would not look at a piece that prominently features his name.” The mailing, Ellis said, “has been the talk of the town and has left a lot of wounds that will never be healed.”